The “X” Factor and Western State College

You spend an entire spring and fall preparing for every possible eventuality and from being around sports for a long time I can tell you it all can go for naught in a heartbeat.

I call it an “X” factor but it just seems, no matter what, you will encounter a situation you are not prepared for.

And for the Grizzlies and their fans Saturday it was Mother Nature who cast her spell over a stupendous first half, especially by the Montana defense, and sent better than 25,000 fans, except for most of the hardy student section, and Western State College and the University of Montana, scurrying for cover.

You’ve read already the effect it had on both teams and all the other minutia about Montana’s 18th consecutive non-conference win, so here’s what you don’t know about Saturday’s record setting Grizzly win.

The thunder and lightning – which by the way is how I plan to describe the offensive and defensive units for the remainder of the season and let you pick who is whom – caused several comical moments.

My basketball roomie and awesome friend, head Athletic Trainer Dennis Murphy burst onto the field frantically waving his hands because unbeknownst to me he’s also the weather guy responsible for notifying officials that there is lightning in close proximity that could endanger the playing field.

There’s not much doubt that when Murph lets you know he feels a need to notify, he’s going to let you know about it demonstratively.  I swear I could hear him yelling in the press box when he told officials of the need to clear the field.

Johnny Horton’s battle cry of “Sink the Bismark” took no quarter to Murph’s antics and he even got radio time to explain just what had occurred.

Of course a few of the students decided to empty out of the stands while security initially ignored their presence, then decided they’d better stand in front of the student section instead of idling chatting in the south end zone.

But when they grabbed the “M” flag and sprinted down the west sidelines, they didn’t anticipate encountering Brynn Malloy, of the Grizzly Scholarship Association, who calmly just ripped the flagpole away and seized the prize possession.

I’ll tell ya one thing, I ain’t messin’ with Judge Malloy’s daughter when it comes to flag stealin’.

As for the inaugural win for the Robin Pflugrad tenure, well it had a bit of everything, didn’t it?

A record setting quartet of pick-sixes, first catches, inaugural TDs, initial college game appearances, a one-hour weather delay and a loss of five-and-a-half minutes of playing time to name a few.

And except for a rash of early penalties and a bit of an ineffective running game hampered a bit by the return of just one starting offensive lineman, we saw a lot of good things including the outstanding emergence of Marc Mariani’s replacement, Pete Ngyuen.  Pete will be a game changer.  Oh and did I mention that we saw 73 points scored in abut 20 official minutes of ball possession?

Kudos to Western State College for the kind of program they brought to Missoula the last two seasons.  Though they obviously were overmatched, especially Saturday, they conducted themselves as competitors.  No doubt they enjoyed playing on the quality stage and while the bus ride home had to be cumbersome, hopefully they’ll cherish the memory of playing against the top FCS program in the country.

We’re on the road the next three out of four weeks starting Saturday night at one of my favorite venues, Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, Ca.

It’s started and what you were waiting for – enjoy!!!