(Montana Sports Information) The maroon team rushed for three touchdowns and added another on defense to come away with a 35-7 win over the silver team in the annual GSA Grizzly Spring Game on a picture-perfect evening under sunny Missoula skies on Friday. 

Montana posted highlights for both teams on both sides of the ball and plenty of minutes for every man on the roster, giving the sizeable crowd plenty to be excited about in the upcoming season. 

The Grizzlies packed plenty of action into the roughly hour-long scrimmage with just under 100 total plays in four quarters of running clock time. 

“We got to work some situations, everybody got to play, and we came out injury free which is probably the most important thing, so it was good. We actually played a lot of plays, I thought the guys had fun playing against each other one more time, and it was good to have all the people here,” said head coach Bobby Hauck. 

The scrimmage capped Montana’s 15-practice spring season, a season that didn’t see much time between it and the end of the real season thanks to the Grizzlies’ run to the national championship in January. 

Now with a total of 44 extra practices under the team’s belt from the end of the regular season to today, Hauck adds that all the added practice time has paid dividends for everyone, which the young guys on the team put on display Friday. 

“In terms of spring practice, I thought it was kind of superior to some I’ve been around. The work was great, but I think the most important thing was we had a lot of individual improvement and a lot of guys on our team that got better. Like, the vast majority of players on our team got better this spring. It doesn’t matter who that is, just the group individually getting better makes your team better,” said Hauck. 

Offensively, Montana repped all five of its current quarterbacks during the scrimmage with roughly equal drives for each.  

Helena sophomore Kaden Huot had one of the biggest highlights of the night, hitting Aaron Fontes for a 41-yard gain on his first play from scrimmage to show off his arm strength. 

Huot also provided one of the biggest highlights of the day for the defense, however, with junior TJ Rausch of Missoula Sentinel jumping one of his passes and returning it 62 yards for a pick six for the maroon team. Rausch has vacillated between safety and cornerback this spring, and the versatility is paying off.

“TJ is one of those guys I’m talking about that’s improved through the spring. A lot of guys played at different positions and showed themselves to be adaptable with that. The more different things you can do the more chance you have to get on the field, so it's always fun to see guys make plays,” Hauck added. 

The maroon team led the ground game for both teams with 147 total yards rushing, and a game high 74 of them coming from Arizona transfer running back Stevie Rocker Jr. 

Rocker punched-in a five-yard score off left tackle in the second quarter from five yards out for the first touchdown of the day. He bookended the day with another score on the final play as well, shaking tackles and speeding his way to the left pylon for a 14-yard score on the final play from scrimmage. 

Rocker emerged as yet another weapon in loaded running back room that also boasts the likes of Nick Ostmo and FCS Freshman of the Year Eli Gillman. Another up-and-coming running back also had a nice day running the ball for the silver team in Bozeman native Asher Croy, who pounded the rock 11 times for 51 yards. 

“I thought he (Rocker) ran it well, thought he ran hard. He's kind of a smooth guy, so sometimes it doesn't look like he's really slamming it up in there, but I've seen him improve a lot through spring practice,” said Hauck. 

Rocker’s was one of three touchdowns in the final quarter of the game – one for silver and two for maroon. 

Freshman quarterback Gage Sliter of Kalispell connected with another Missoula Sentinel standout in Drew Klumph for a 22-yard back shoulder touchdown catch for the silver team. 

Sophomore Beau Dantic of Laurel ran another late score in for the maroon team from one yard out before Rocker finished the scoring to make it a 35-7 final. 

Defensively, safety Tyson Rostad led the team with five tackles for the silver squad, with four more each for linebackers Cy Stevenson of Libby and Erich Osteen. Stevenson also added a sack and a half to his personal haul on the day. 

Cooper Barnum picked up an early sack on quarterback Logan Fife and was one of four players for the maroon team to total four stops each. Monmouth transfer Pat Hayden wreaked havoc inside on the D-line and also picked up 1.5 sacks. 

Montana now turns its attention to the fall season when the Griz host Missouri State in the home opener on Aug. 31 at Washington-Grizzly Stadium in Missoula.