Montana football: Griz pick up steam in solid scrimmage
Following a solid week of practices, Montana head football coach Bob Stitt challenged his quarterbacks to come out and execute a crisp offense in the team’s second scrimmage of the spring season on Friday evening at Washington-Grizzly Stadium.
Barring a handful of setbacks for freshman Gresch Jensen, UM’s three QBs came out and did just that as the Grizzly offense racked up 452 yards of total offense with three touchdown passes on 35 completions.
Kicker Tim Semenza added a pair of field goals, and safety Korey Alexander returned an interception 33 yards for a touchdown to give Montana’s offense 27 points in the scrimmage, and the defense 7 points in a balanced display from the Griz.
“We definitely felt good early because we were able to move the ball and got the ball in the end zone,” said Stitt following the scrimmage that lasted a little over an hour and consisted of 89 plays.
“The defense isn’t giving up big plays either. That’s a point of emphasis for us this spring. We’re not going to give up big plays, we’re going to make an offense earn points, and we want to get turnovers, and we did. We got three of them.”
Senior quarterback Reese Phillips responded to Stitt’s challenge in a big way, completing 13 of 18 passes for 140 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
“I felt he came out and played like a senior, like we know he can,” said Stitt of Phillips. “We wanted him to come out and play like he’s been playing in practice in the scrimmage, and he did.”
Sophomore receiver Justin Calhoun was Phillips’ favorite target of the day, hauling in both of his touchdown passes.
Calhoun and Phillips put the offense on the board in the first series of the scrimmage, connecting on a nine-yard corner route for a score that capped a nine play, 70-yard drive.
One series later, Phillips again found Calhoun again streaking down the sideline for a 48-yard score that produced the longest play from scrimmage of the day for the offense, and a highlight reel score for the TV cameras.
Junior QB Caleb Hill also put in a solid day’s work, completing 14 of 17 passes for 100 yards and a touchdown. Late in the scrimmage, Hill completed a seven-play, 45-yard series with a 12-yard pass to redshirt freshman Brennan Corbin for his first touchdown catch as a Grizzly.
Freshman Gresch Jensen completed eight passes for 61 yards, but also threw three interceptions, the third of which closed out the scrimmage when Alexander returned an 33-yards for a score.
“We’ll learn from those turnovers,” said Stitt. “A lot of times in the turnover, maybe the pass wasn’t great, but the ball was going to the right place. That’s what you want to see from these young quarterbacks is where that ball is going, and I think we did a good job of that.”
Senior defensive end Tucker Schye produced yet another outstanding scrimmage for the Grizzly defense with three sacks, while at the other end of the defensive line, redshirt freshman Randy Rodriguez came up big with two sacks of his own.
On the ground, senior running back Treshawn Favors had a busy afternoon with eight carries for 77 yards, followed freshman Rey Green with nine carries for 34 yards and senior Shane Moody (a transplant from Safety) with eight carries for 32 yards. All told, the Grizzly rushing attack accounted for 151 total yards on 36 carries.
Montana now begins final preparations for the annual Spring Game presented by Northwestern Mutual coming up next Saturday, April 22 in Butte. Kickoff from Naranche Stadium is set for 1 p.m. in the Mining City.
“I’m feeling good about this football team, and we’ve got a couple more practices next week to get better,” added Stitt. “We’ve got to get better in the film room tomorrow, but we’re playing some pretty darn good football.”
Tickets for the Spring Game cost $5 for adults and $3 for children and can be purchased at the Adams Center Box Office, online at GrizTix.com, or at the gate.
TD – Justin Calhoun 9 pass from Reese Phillips (Brandon Purdy kick) 9 plays, 70 yards
FG – Tim Semenza 37 Field Goal – 7 plays, 50 yards
TD – Justin Calhoun 48 pass from Reese Phillips (Brandon Purdy kick) 7 plays, 65 yards
FG – Tim Semenza 27 Field Goal – 11 plays 55 yards
TD – Brennan Corbin 12 pass from Caleb Hill (Brandon Purdy kick) 7 plays 45 yards
TD – Korey Alexander 33 INT Return (Semenza Kick)
Receiving: (35-301YD) Justin Calhoun 3-66, 2TD (9, 48) – Keenan Curran 5-46 – Jerry Louie-McGee 6-35 – Brennan Corbin 3-28, 1TD (12) – Kobey Eaton 3-29 – Mitch McLaughlin 4-27 – Josh Horner 2-23 – Jed Nagler 3-18 – Nick Fouch 2-13 – Treshawn Favors 2-10 – Makena Simis 1-4
Total offense: 89 plays, 452 yards, 3 touchdowns