Griz Defeat Host North Dakota 55-17


Junior quarterback Jordan Johnson threw 5 touchdown passes – 3 of them to sophomore wide receiver Ellis Henderson, as the University of Montana Grizzlies registered a convincing 55-17 non-league victory over the University of North Dakota Saturday evening in front of 9,726 mostly partisan fans in UND’s Alerus Center.

With the win, Montana improves to 2-0 overall, while UND goes 1-2.

Both teams are members of the Big Sky Conference, but this was a non-league contest, as the teams had a home-and-home agreement before UND joined the Big Sky. The teams meet again next season in Grand Forks for a conference game.

Johnson was incredibly efficient, going 15-of-19-0 for the five touchdowns, and he threw for a career-high 354 yards — his first career 300-yard passing game. Henderson had 5 receptions for a career-best 124 yards, along with those 3 TD grabs.

The game was full of big plays by the visiting Grizzlies, as they had five touchdowns of 30 or more yards, and three over 50 — including a 70-yarder, a 52-yarder, and a 51-yarder. Montana’s offensive domination was evident by its first (and only) punt of the game, which occurred with 6:02 left in the contest.

The Grizzlies’ running attack was also solid, as halfback Jordan Canada rushed 14 times for 104 yards and 2 touchdowns, while fellow junior Travon Van had 10 totes for 72 yards and a score. It was Canada’s second straight 100-yard rushing game and the fourth of his career.

UM’s defense held UND’s potent offense to 336 total yards (281 passing), while the Grizzlies had 609 total yards (376 passing and 233 rushing).

Griz senior linebacker Brock Coyle had a game-high 9 tackles, while junior safety Matt Hermanson and senior linebacker Jordan Tripp each had 7 stops. Tripp and sophomore cornerback Nate Harris each had an interception for UM.

The win by Montana avenged a 40-34 loss by UM at UND last season, in a game which UND had 704 total yards (660 passing), and scored nine points in the final two minutes of play.

The Griz had a big-play first half, with touchdown throws of 70, 53, 35, and 22 yards, with three of those TD passes by Johnson. The other TD throw was by sophomore wide receiver Chase Naccarato, which was the 22-yarder to Cam Warren. The other score in the opening half was a 32-yard run by Canada, which gave Montana a 33-10 lead at intermission.

In the first half, Johnson was 9-of-11-0 for 207 yards for 3 touchdowns, while Henderson had 3 grabs for 104 yards and two scores. Canada had 10 totes for 82 yards and a TD in the opening half. The Griz had 361 yards of offense in the first two quarters (UND had 199).

Montana returns home for a game against Oklahoma Panhandle State, Saturday, Sept. 21, in UM’s annual “Hall of Fame Game” in a 1:00 p.m. game in Washington-Grizzly Stadium. UND has an open week and then hosts Montana State on Sept. 28 in the conference opener for both teams.