Snow-game photos: Griz blizzard overwhelms Cal Poly 57-0
(GoGriz.com) Winter officially arrived in Missoula on Saturday night, and with it came a return to the winning ways for Montana Grizzly football.
On a field covered in snow for most of the game, you could look at the scoreboard for the story of the game, or you could read it in the prints in the snow. One end zone filled with Grizzly tracks, the other notably absent of Mustang prints.
The Griz were in their natural habitat in the snow, dominating Cal Poly 57-0 to get back in the victory column. The game was never close as Montana jumped out to a 31-0 halftime lead and never looked back. The Montana program record book was under pressure at the end of the night, as the Griz broke one and neared several others. Head coach Bobby Hauck had a simple question after the game.
"That was fun tonight, wasn't it?"
Montana's offense finished with 695 yards of total offense, the second most in a single game in program history. They trailed only the 717-yard performance against Weber State in 1999. It was the first time Montana went over 600 yards in a game since the victory against SE Louisiana in the 2019 playoffs.
The chains were moved a program record 37 times as Montana proved difficult to get off the field. They converted 14 of 19 third down attempts, along with a fourth down conversion, and didn't punt the entire game. The score could have been more lopsided had Montana not turned it over on downs and threw an interception in the end zone.
Nick Ostmo ran wild on the Mustangs to become Montana's first 200-yard runner since Dalton Sneed in 2018. He put together his first career 100-yard game, and just went ahead and doubled it up for good measure. He became just the eighth Grizzly to run for 200 yards and the first running back to do it since Chase Reynolds in 2009. He ended with the sixth most yards in a game in program history with 221, and brought his total yardage to 260 with a couple of catches.
"It kind of reminded me of Chase Reynolds against Appalachian State with the snow coming down and the yardage total. What a great night by Nick" Hauck said. "We challenged those guys to say, no one man is going to tackle you tonight. If you let one guy tackle you that's a bad run, and they really embraced it. They ran through contact. They ran over, around and through tackles."
As a team, Montana ran for 412 total yards. Isiah Childs had 70 yards, third-string quarterback Daniel Britt had 40 yards and three more Grizzlies ran for at least 15 yards. They averaged 6.6 yards per carry on 62 total attempts.
Starting quarterback Lucas Johnson looked sharp in his return from injury, throwing for 262 yards and three touchdowns while completing nearly 60 percent of his passes. He also ran for a score. He spread the love to 11 different receivers. Mitch Roberts, Ryan Simpson and Xavier Harris all caught a pass for Montana.
"The offense was great. We challenged everybody on that side of the ball, it was A to Z on offense," Hauck said. "We got our tail whooped last week. They were incensed all week and they were intense all night. They played great up front."
While the offense nearly broke several school records, the performance of Montana's defense shouldn't go unnoticed. The Grizzlies shut out a Cal Poly passing attack that entered the night third in the country in yards per game, holding them under 200 yards and to just 150 yards through the air.
Braxton Hill led Montana in place of the injured Patrick O'Connell. The Anaconda native had seven tackles and also broke up multiple passes. Robby Hauck, Marcus Welnel and Levi Janacaro all had five tackles. Welnel got to the quarterback once and also intercepted a pass in a complete performance.
Cal Poly was held under 75 yards in all four quarters, converting just a quarter of their third down attempts. Montana's defense stifled them to the bitter end, giving up just three yards of offense in the final quarter when mostly backups were on the field for the Griz. A total of 23 different Montana players registered a tackle in the game.
It is the second shutout of the season for Montana, who also held Northwestern State scoreless in the season opener.