Montana Sports Information

The Montana Grizzlies jumped out to a 1-0 start to the 2023 season with a 35-20 victory over the Butler Bulldogs on a warm, early September day inside Washington-Grizzly Stadium Saturday.

On the debut of two new coordinators and a pair of quarterbacks that split halves, Montana put up a balanced 441 yards of total offense and still left plenty of points on the field with a handful of untimely penalties. The Grizzly defense, meanwhile, held Butler to just 41 yards rushing yards and without a touchdown in the first half with six first-time starters on that side of the ball.

In a back-and-forth game that came as close as one score early in the second half and a first half with no game clock on a malfunctioning scoreboard, the Griz worked through plenty of adversity to come away with a win.

"This win feels great. There's a lot to unpack from this, but Butler has a good team. They're well-coached, they do a nice job. They line them up, and they play hard, and they tackle well. Their quarterback is a tough kid, and I admire tough kids. So, it was good to get a win. I think we have a lot to clean up, but it's always good to correct when you're 1-0," said head coach Bobby Hauck.

The Griz received a special performance from freshman running back Eli Gillman, who led all rushers with 119 yards and a touchdown in his first collegiate start, as Montana averaged over five yards per tote behind its veteran O-line.

With quarterback Clifton McDowell adding 80 more rushing yards and a score in the second half and Xavier Harris putting up 40 more and a TD as well, the Griz ground game controlled the possession.

"I told him (Gillman) at halftime, great job. He took care of the ball, ran hard, and got yards after contact. And then the second half it was, it was awesome. So nice job by our freshman running back," said Hauck.

"But stopping the run and running the ball like that, teams are just going to struggle to beat you getting outrushed by 200 yards."

Game Day Photos

UM Dance Team. (William Munoz/Missoula Current)
UM Dance Team. (William Munoz/Missoula Current)
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Fans in the student section in Washington-Grizzly Stadium. (William Munoz/Missoula Current)
Fans in the student section in Washington-Grizzly Stadium. (William Munoz/Missoula Current)
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Monte spurs on the crowd in Washington-Grizzly Stadium. (William Munoz/Missoula Current)
Monte spurs on the crowd in Washington-Grizzly Stadium. (William Munoz/Missoula Current)
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QB Sam Vidlak. (William Munoz/Missoula Current)
QB Sam Vidlak. (William Munoz/Missoula Current)
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Monte in the student section. (William Munoz/Missoula Current)
Monte in the student section. (William Munoz/Missoula Current)
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We are Montana sheet after first TD. (William Munoz/Missoula Current)
We are Montana sheet after first TD. (William Munoz/Missoula Current)
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Riley Wilson sacks Bulter QB Bret Bushka. (William Munoz/Missoula Current)
Riley Wilson sacks Bulter QB Bret Bushka. (William Munoz/Missoula Current)
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Alex Gubner recovers a fumble. (William Munoz/Missoula Current)
Alex Gubner recovers a fumble. (William Munoz/Missoula Current)
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