MISSOULA, Mont. — The Sacramento State football team outgained No. 12 Montana and had over nine minutes more of possession but the Hornets could not overcome troubles in the red zone and the Grizzlies' quick strike offense in a 31-13 loss on Saturday at Washington-Grizzly Stadium.
The loss dropped Sacramento State to 4-5 overall and 1-4 in Big Sky Conference play. The Grizzlies improved to 6-3 and 4-1.
The Hornets took the opening kickoff and drove deep into Montana territory before settling for a 27-yard Brad Cornish field goal to cap a 15-play drive which lasted 6:24. The lead was short-lived as the Grizzlies answered with a Jordan Canada touchdown run to take the lead. During the drive, quarterback Jordan Johnson had a 42-yard run and the team was able to convert an 3-and-20 to keep the drive alive.
Sacramento State moved back down the field on its next series and had the ball at the UM 21 before Garrett Safron's screen pass went off the hands of his intended receiver and was intercepted by Kyle Van Ackeren who returned the pick 59 yards. That play set up a 29-yard field goal from Daniel Sullivan to give Montana a 10-3 lead.
The Grizzlies added a 7-yard touchdown run from Travon Van four minutes later before Cornish made a 21-yard field goal attempt with 33 seconds left in the half. During that drive, Sacramento State had 1st-and-goal from the 2-yard line but lost yardage on its first play, gained two on second down and had a third-down pass broken up in the end zone.
Montana wasted little time scoring in the second half as Canada ran around the right edge of the line and down the sideline for a 68-yard touchdown just 43 seconds into the third quarter. After stopping the Hornets on fourth down, the Grizzlies extended its lead to 31-6 with a 14-yard pass from Johnson to tight end Mitch Saylor.
The only points in the fourth quarter for either team came in the final minutes when Safron scored on a keeper from 1-yard out with 32 seconds remaining.
Sacramento State ran 78 offensive plays and compiled 356 yard of total offense as a team. The Grizzlies finished with 339 yards on 52 plays.
Safron was 27-of-48 for 262 yards and also rushed for 43 yards and a score. Nnamdi Agude finished with eight catches for 99 yards. Justin Cox had a career high six receptions for 49 yards.
Defensively, safeties Robbie Kendall and Nick Crouch each had seven tackles to lead the team. Kendall also had 1.5 tackles for loss and a pass breakup.
Canada paced Montana with 109 rushing yards and two scores. Johnson completed 13-of-21 passes for 143 yards and a touchdown. Van Ackeren had nine tackles to lead all players.
Sacramento State returns home for a pair of games. The team hosts Southern Utah on Nov. 8 before welcoming Portland State on Nov. 15. Both games will start at 2 p.m. at Hornet Stadium.
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