Down to a Two-Game Season


Something strange must’ve happened in Montana’s locker room at halftime. About the time the Grizzles were enjoying prosperity, the same Grizzly team that in recent weeks had mostly solved ball security issues coughed the pigskin up three times. The result was 17 Weber State points and a win that all but eliminated chances of an outright 13th consecutive league title.

While now standing with a pair of leagues losses and a single conference game remaining, Montana still retains hope for a tie for league supremacy. Eastern Washington is in the driver’s seat and could clinch at least a tie before either Montana or the Eagles get back on the football field.

If Weber State defeats Montana State in Bozeman next Saturday, Eastern would have the tiebreaker advantage and claim the league’s automatic bid to the post-season.

But a Bobcat win would throw the league into further turmoil with the possibility of a three-way, two-loss tie for the title with the Eagles if Montana were to beat Montana State in the finale. The Eagles would still gain the automatic post-season nod if they defeat Idaho State on the final weekend.

While there is plenty of November football remaining, the second-half collapse in Ogden definitely put the onus on Montana. They probably need to win both the home game against North Dakota State in two weeks and the season-ender against Montana State to even get into the playoffs or surely to get a home game.

But with an expanded playoff field of 20, even if they split the last two games and finish with four losses, I suppose there is an outside chance by reputation alone that the playoff committee, headed by Athletic Director Jim O’Day, still would include Montana in the field.

The Grizzlies played some of their best football to date for a time in the first half, and when they notched a pair of TDs in the last 2:38 to rebound from a 13-7 deficit to a 21-13 halftime advantage, it seemed things were coming up roses and chances of a sixth straight victory were secure.

About the time the lights came on at Stewart Stadium and the skies began to darken with the threat of showers and some lightening in the distance, the perennial league foes reversed roles and the Wildcats lit up the grass field, silenced the approaching rain, and prevailed by running rampant.

And run they did, rushing the ball an equal amount in each half and punishing a depleted Grizzly defense by dominating time of possession.

Weber State had the football 11 more minutes than Montana after the intermission and over 20 more minutes overall. They ran 23 more plays and rushed for all but 18 of their 68 plays to chew up the clock and give the Montana “Cardiac Kids” little chance of success.

The Wildcats held the ball all but 3½ minutes in the fourth quarter, when the Grizzlies were within striking distance down six points, but a 33-yard field goal by Shaun McClain with 8:39 to play made it a two-possession game. Montana netted but six yards on four plays on their next possession and never again saw the football as Weber ran out the last 7:42 with 13 rushing downs.

Montana fans now know why Cameron Higgins has been sacked but four times all season and it is little consolation that he didn’t set the Big Sky Conference TD mark. With a trio of equally talented running backs who netted 250 yards on 62 totes, his 13 of 18 pass performance for 129 and no turnovers was just icing on the Wildcat cake on Senior Day in Ogden.

So it’s time to erase the drawing board and start anew because, after a week off from competition, 2010 now is a two-game season.

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