FOOTBALL COMES UP SHORT IN UPSET BID AGAINST No. 2 MONTANA
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Sacramento State and Montana battled in an old-fashioned Big Sky shootout which was eventually won by the Grizzlies, 45-30, Saturday afternoon at Hornet Stadium.
Montana, which is ranked second in the most recent Sports Network poll, improved to 7-0 on the year and 4-0 in Big Sky Conference games. The Hornets fell to 2-5 overall and 2-3 in league play.
The two teams combined for 914 yards and 10 touchdowns in a game which had three lead changes. Thomas Brooks-Fletcher (133) and Chase Reynolds (112) each rushed for over 100 yards and scored four touchdowns to lead Montana while Sacramento State relied on 323 passing yards and three touchdowns from quarterback Jason Smith.
"I thought our guys played with a lot effort today and never quit," Sacramento State head coach Marshall Sperbeck said. "Montana is a very good team and showed why they are No. 2 in the polls.. We've got to build on this game and continue to get better each week,"
Montana took the initial lead with a 10-play, 80-yard drive which ended with an 18-yard pass from Andrew Selle to Marc Mariani. The Hornets answered right back with a long drive which primarily featured screens to the receivers and a heavy dose of Terrance Dailey between the tackles. Dailey tied the score with a 3-yard run with 4:49 left in the first quarter.
Sacramento State took its first lead 47 seconds into the second quarter when Smith found John Hendershott on a 25-yard pass up the left sideline. From that point, Montana used three TDs from Reynolds to take control of the game. The first score came from 2-yards out with 6:34 showing in the second quarter. The Grizzlies then recovered an onside kick which set up Reynolds for a 1-yard score.
The Hornets appeared to have tied the game heading into halftime when Smith connected with Brandyn Reed for a 40-yard touchdown. However, Sacramento State was called for illegal hands to the face by an offensive lineman on the play to negate the score.
In the second half, special teams again played a large role in the game as Mariani returned an Augie Heath punt 54 yards back to the Hornet 5 yard line. Reynolds scored one play later to make the score, 28-14 with 9:32 left in the third.
Sacramento State rallied with an 18-yard pass from Smith to Hendershott to get back within seven. The defense looked to have forced the Griz into a field goal try on the next drive but holder Jeff Larson rushed for a 14-yard gain on a fake attempt to keep the chains moving. Brooks-Fletcher capped the drive with a 17-yard dash around the left end for the final points of the third quarter.
A 38-yard field goal from Brody McKnight game Montana its largest lead (38-21) midway through the fourth period before Brett Willis hauled in a 28-yard pass at the right pylon with 5:06 remaining.
Jabin Sambrano dashed any comeback hopes with a 57-yard catch and run off of a screen from Justin Roper. Montana then sealed the game with a fourth down stop by Donny Lisowski who knocked down a pass in the end zone. The Hornets added two points in the closing seconds when Kevin Moore sacked Roper at 2-yard line and forced a fumble into the end zone which was recovered by the Griz for a safety.
Smith finished the day with a career high 31 completions on 46 attempts with a season high in yards. His three touchdowns matched his season best which came at Portland State and also extended his streak to six consecutive games with a TD. Dailey led the Hornets with 19 carries for 90 yards before leaving in the second half with a shoulder injury. Reed also had a big day with 10 catches for 111 yards.
Defensively, Peter Buck led all players with a career high 18 tackles. That total easily surpassed his previous high of 11 and tied him for fourth in the school's Div. I-AA/FCS era. Geoff Warner added 10 tackles as did Zach Schrader who also had an interception.
Sacramento State will next welcome Northern Arizona to Hornet Stadium on Sat., Oct. 31, at 2:05 p.m.
NOTES: Montana is now 15-0 all-time against Sacramento State…Jason Smith moved into sole possession of second place in Hornet history with 37 career touchdowns. He is now 13 behind Ryan Leadingham (50)…Smith is also second in career yards (5,096), attempts (748) and completions (421)…Reed now has two 100-yard games this season and leads the team with 393 yards.