NO. 8 MONTANA SHUTS OUT FOOTBALL, 26-0
SACRAMENTO, Calif. --- Justin Green rushed for 108 yards and two touchdowns to help lead No. 8 Montana to a 26-0 victory over Sacramento State Saturday night at a soggy Hornet Stadium.
The victory improved the Grizzlies to 8-2 overall and kept the team in first place in the Big Sky Conference with a 4-1 mark. The Hornets fell to 2-8 overall and 1-5 in league games.
Montana made the most of its opportunities early in the game. The Grizzlies scored on their first two drives behind the legs of Green. The first touchdown came just 4:43 into the game on a 2-yard run while the second came six minutes later on an 11-yard dash. A failed extra point following the second touchdown made the score 13-0 before Dave DeCoite returned a fumble 52-yard with 1:57 left in the first quarter. Montana had the extra point blocked to make the score 19-0.
The scoring for the game ended early in the second period when Grizzly quarterback Craig Ochs completed a 37-yard pass to Dane Oliver for a touchdown. On the play, Ochs floated the ball to the left-front corner of the end zone. Two Hornet defenders appeared to have a play on the ball but Oliver slid between them to make the diving catch.
Following that touchdown, the monsoon-like weather affected both teams. The two schools combined for 12 fumbles (seven by Montana) and neither team was able to score for the final 41 minutes. The Grizzlies had a chance to build on their lead in the second quarter but kicker Chris Snyder had his plant foot slide out from underneath him on a 41-yard field goal attempt.
In the third quarter, Sacramento State had consecutive drives deep inside Montana territory but a fumble by Kenan Smith and a Smith interception halted both scoring attempts.
As a team, Sacramento State was held to nine first downs and just 135 yards of total offense. Both of those marks tie for the second-fewest since the program moved to Div. I-AA in 1993.
Conversely, Montana recorded 21 first downs and 373 total yards. The Griz had 183 yards on the ground and 190 through the air.
Individually, Green led all players with 23 carries for his 108 yards. Lex Hilliard added 12 rushes for 40 yards. Ochs ended the night 12-for-26. The transfer from Colorado also had one touchdown and one interception.
Josh Farrell led Sacramento State with 25 rushing yards. Kenan Smith, who started the game at wide receiver before moving to quarterback, added 15 rushing yards and 46 passing yards. Smith was 5-of-11 in his first extensive duty as a signal caller. He was intercepted once. Blake Mori was 5-of-10 for 54 yards.
Sacramento State, which was already playing without the services of starting quarterback Ryan Leadingham and starting running back Tyronne Gross, was dealt another blow when All-America candidate Fred Amey was pulled from the lineup before kickoff due to an ankle injury.
Defensively, senior linebacker Ryan Kroeker led all players with 14 tackles (seven solo). Camron Mbewa and Chris Bessinger each added nine.
Montana was led by Blake Horgan and Brent Meyers with six tackles.
Sacramento State will conclude its 2003 season on Saturday, Nov. 15, at Weber State. The game against the Wildcats is scheduled to kick off at 12:05 p.m. PST and can be heard on KTKZ 1380 AM.