A Tough End to a Tough Season


It was a season predicated by mistakes, and it ended Saturday about how it began – with disappointment and frustration.

For the Grizzlies to have a chance for a miracle winning play after turning the ball over four times is incomprehensible.

Taking nothing away from an excellent Montana State University team and the best Bobcat quarterback I have ever seen, the 110th meeting between the cross-state rivals came down far more to how the Grizzlies played and not what the Bobcats did.

And I guess it kind of epitomizes the season to have the football hanging in the air floating toward the Bobcat endzone as the clock expired only to have it intercepted not only to end the game, but also to bring the 2010 season crashing to a bitter close.

We can endlessly speculate about the Grizzlies failing to make the post-season playoffs for the first time in my 18 years of broadcasting football. The fact of the matter is that with a 7-4 record and just six D-1 wins, it is hard to make an argument for Montana’s inclusion in the field.

While I’m quite sure it was a close call for the committee, I believe it was the UC-Davis win over Cal Poly – who also didn’t make the field, but defeated Montana in the second week of the season – and the Davis loss Saturday to Sacramento State – that provided the committee with enough reason to pull the plug on Montana’s record playoff run.

And with the way the bracket is set up, there is plenty of reason to believe either the Bobcats, the Big Sky’s automatic qualifier, or Eastern Washington, will carry the conference banner deep into the playoff field.

Saturday was the oddest of games. Seldom do you see two teams have at each other early on, with a 14-14 tie at the end of the first quarter, and then have just a safety scored after the intermission.

And this year’s “X” factor,  a phenomenon that seems to occur each year during the Griz-Cat rivalry, was Bobcat punter Rory Perez. After a bad snap swatted the pigskin out of the endzone, he couldn’t corral it given the field conditions and quickly-approaching Grizzlies. Though he gave up two points, it probably saved a go-ahead Montana touchdown.

While the Cats looked like they could drive the ball at will for most of the first half, the Grizzly defense was up to the challenge in the second stanza. Although they didn’t get a turnover, they held MSU to a measly 57 yards to give the offense more than enough chances to play spoiler and continue the season. It just wasn’t to be.

There has never been a larger crowd at Washington-Grizzly Stadium and there may never have been worse conditions to watch a football game, but the hearty contingent of over 26,000 was there to the end. Though there will be the fair-weather fans who criticize and analyze as if they are entitled, I continue to maintain that you win with class and lose with class. I know that is what the majority of fans will do.

This morning I feel worse for Chase Reynolds. Not in any way to take away from those running backs that came before him, the senior warrior surely deserved to set the rushing standard. Missing the mark by just three yards is truly unfortunate.

There’s plenty more to talk about but one thing is for sure. Now we know just how hard it is to win one game, let alone every time you take the field.

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