MISSOULA,Mont. — Elijah Dotson rushed for a career high 234 yards and three touchdowns to lead Sacramento State but the Hornets could not slow down quarterback Dalton Sneed as No. 19 Montana rallied for a 41-34 win at Washington-Grizzly Stadium on Saturday.
The Hornets dropped to 2-2 overall and started Big Sky Conference play at 0-1. Montana improved its record to 3-1 overall and 1-0 in league games.
Doston carried the ball 30 times and became the first Hornet to rush for over 200 yards in a game since Jordan Robinson in 2016. The sophomore had touchdowns of 59, 1 and 66 yards in the first half to give Sacramento State a 28-24 lead at halftime.
The Grizzlies retook the lead with a touchdown drive to start the second half only to the Hornets knot the game, 31-31 on Devon Medeiros' 23-yard field goal. That score held through the end of the third quarter before UM pulled ahead for good on a 4th-down pass to tight end Matt Rensvold with 10:27 left in the game.
Montana extended its lead with a field goal from Tim Semenza before the Hornets moved quickly down the field for a score of its own. Chasing 10 points, the team turned to Medeiros to make a 30-yard field goal with 11 seconds remaining. However, the Hornets were unable to recover the onsides kick and the Grizzlies took a knee to end the game.
Both teams were explosive in the first half with the Hornets riding Dotson for his three touchdowns as well as a 77-yard catch and run from Kevin Thomson to Jaelin Ratliff. Montana countered with a 53-yard run on an end around by Gabe Sulser and a 75-yard scramble from Sneed to keep pace.
Overall, Montana compiled 585 yards of offense while Sacramento State had 510. Dotson averaged 7.8 yards per carry and produced the 16th best single-game total in school history. His effort was more impressive when you considered UM had allowed just 75.7 rushing yards per game in its first three contests, including only 45 a week earlier.
Along with Dotson's rushing total, the Hornets also had receiver Jaelin Ratliff cross the century mark with 107 yards on three catches. Andre Lindsey added 67 yards and Johnnie Rucker had 57 yards on three receptions each. Thomson finished 10-of-19 for 259 yards and a TD pass.
Sneed rushed for 206 yards on 16 attempts to average 12.9 yards per attempt. He also threw for 234 yards on 22-of-35 with six completions to Jerry Louie-McGee (91 yards) and Samori Toure (35 yards).
The Hornets were led defensively by Malcolm Thomas who had 10 total tackles, including a pair for loss. Immanuel Anderson and Manoah Pearson added eight stops. Sacramento State was able to extend its streak with at least two sacks to 15 games as Oscar Nava had a solo and Anderson and Leonard Hazewood IV combined on another.
Sacramento State will have a bye next weekend before hosting Cal Poly on Saturday, Oct. 6, at 6 p.m.
13:30 - Elijah Dotson put the Hornets on the board early with a 59-yard rush around the left edge. Dotson quickly got to the second level of the defense and then received a great black from the Hornet receivers about 30 yards down the field.
12:43 - Montana matched the score with a three-play drive less than a minute later. Freshman Gabe Sulser took the end around and travelled 53 yards down the right sideline on his first touch of the year.
4:59 - Sacramento State took advantage of its big-play threats to set up Elijah Dotson's second touchdown of the quarter. Andre Lindsey had a 49-yard grab and Jaelin Ratliff followed with a 15-yard catch to take the ball to the 3-yard line. Dotson's first carry near the goal line came up just short after review but the sophomore left no doubt as he dove in over the left guard.
4:48 - Like the first touchdown, the Grizzlies counterpunched quickly with a 75-yard rush from quarterback Dalton Sneed. Sneed faked a toss sweep and kept it himself around the left edge.
7:49 - Tim Semenza gave Montana its first lead, 17-14, of the game with a 24-yard field goal. The Griz had some big plays during the series but the Hornet defense was able to hold inside the of the red zone and force the field goal attempt.
7:17 - It was Sacramento State's turn for a quick response. The team needed just two Dotson carries to travel 75 yards and retake the lead a 21-17. Dotson capped the series with a 66-yard rush up the middle for his third score of the half.
4:10 - The Hornets needed just two plays on its next drive to find the end zone and extend their lead to 28-17. Thomson found Jaelin Ratliff about 30 yards down the field and the senior receiver slithered his way out of two would-be tacklers for a 77-yard touchdown catch and run.
0:24 - Montana had the final blow in a wild first half on Sneed's second rushing touchdown of the half. Sneed wrapped up an 11-play, 75-yard drive with 12-yard rush into the end zone. On the play, he pump faked to freeze a Hornet defender and then cut back to a wide open end zone.
11:45 - Sneed added his third rushing score and Montana retook the lead on a 38-yard rush. Similar to the first Griz touchdown, Sneed faked a toss and then split the middle of the Hornet defense before sprinting down the left sideline.
7:19 - Sacramento State knotted the game at 31-31 on a 23-yard field goal by Devon Medeiros. The team drove to the 1-yard line and were set to go for a fourth down attempt before being whistled for offsides.
10:27 - Montana took its largest lead of the game at 38-31 on a 1-yard pass to tight end Matt Rensvold. The Griz had 1st-and-goal from the three but faced fourth down from just outside the goal line. Sneed looked off the defender before finding Rensvold in the center of the end zone.
1:32 - Tim Semenza made it a two-score game with a 24-yard field goal late in the fourth quarter. The Grizzlies were able to drain 4:02 off the clock during the series.
0:11 - Sacramento State used eight plays to get down the field and set up a 30-yard field goal from Medeiros to pull the team back within seven. Rucker was the target early in the series to take the ball inside the red zone.