Montana Rolls

Both of the main universities in Montana are in the FCS playoffs.  Montana Grizzlies and the Montana State Bobcats both won this weekend in very different fashions.

The Montana Grizzlies faced off with Central Arkansas in a game that turned into a rout very quickly.  The Griz ended the game with a convincing 41-14 win.  The Grizzlies gained 229 yards rushing to the Bears 25 yards.   They also scored 17 unanswered points off three forced turnovers in the first quarter alone and never looked back.  Montana was working on all fronts on Saturday and took advantage of every opportunity that Central Arkansas presented them with.  Linebacker John Kanongata’a led the Grizzlies stingy defense, making a team-high nine tackles, including one for a loss. Freshman safety Matt Hermanson added six tackles and forced two fumbles.  Senior cornerback Houston Roots made his presence known midway through the third quarter. Roots striped a Central Arkansas receiver but the ball bounced right back to the Bears. On the next play, Roots striped the ball again, this time resulting in a recovery for the Grizzlies as linebacker Caleb McSurdy scooped it up.

The Grizzlies will host Northern Iowa on Friday night at 6 p.m. under lights at Washington-Grizzly Stadium for the 3rd round of the FCS Playoffs. Northern Iowa defeatedWofford in the second round on Saturday.

Montana State had a much tougher road on Saturday with New Hampshire coming right down to the wire to win it 26-25.  For New Hampshire’s football program it was like deja vu.   In 1976, UNH came to the Treasure State for a NCAA Division II playoff game and left the victim of a 17-16 loss due to a missed extra point.  This game turned out the exact same way.  A missed extra point spelled the final score yet again.  UNH senior quarterback Kevin Decker hit sophomore wide receiver Justin Mello for a 29-yard touchdown with six seconds to play to bring the Wildcats to within one point. But MSU sophomore Steven Bethley got his hand on Mike MacArthur’s extra-point try to seal Montana State’s 26-25 victory, the Bobcats’ first postseason victory since 2006.  Montana State overcame four turnovers, including an interception by UNH linebacker Matt Evans that the junior returned 58 yards for a touchdown, to post the fifth FCS playoff win in school history.The Bobcats (10-2) will play No. 1 seed Sam Houston State (12-0) in Huntsville, Texas, next weekend. The game will be either Friday or Saturday at a time to be determined.

The next round is a huge one for both teams.  IF both teams win, it will set up a rematch between the two Montana teams.  Something I think both teams are hoping for and certainly all of Montana is hoping for.  For now though, Montana football continues to roll on through the FCS Playoffs.

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