Griz 28, South Dakota 20 in Front of Record Crowd of 26,303 (PHOTO GALLERY)


The University of Montana’s Jordan Canada, Jordan Johnson, and Zack Wagenmann led the way as the Grizzlies defeated the University of South Dakota Coyotes 28-20 Saturday evening in front of a Washington-Grizzly Stadium record crowd of 26,303.

Canada rushed 16 times for 114 yards, while Johnson passed for 2 touchdowns, and Wagenmann led a solid effort by the entire “D” with 3 sacks.

The Grizzlies (2-1) led the entire game, and took a 21-10 lead when Johnson tossed a 14-yard scoring pass to Jamaal Jones with 2:22 left in that stanza.


Josh Wagenmann. UM vs USD. Photo by ©Mark Mesenk for

The Coyotes (1-2) trimmed UM’s lead to 21-13 early in the fourth quarter (11:18) on a 29-yard field goal by Miles Bergner.  But, the Griz regained a double-digit lead at 28-13 with 6:18 to go when halfback Travon Van broke loose for a 28-yard touchdown run.

USD got on the board with 1:50 remaining on a 31-yard TD pass from quarterback Ryan Saeger to Eric Shufford.  The Coyotes’ subsequent on-side kick went out of bounds, and back-to-back runs by Canada secured a first down for the Griz, and they ran out the clock for the victory.

Montana scored the only points of the opening quarter on a 9-yard touchdown run by halfback John Nguyen with 39 seconds to go to take a 7-0 lead.  USD cut the margin to 7-3 on a 35-yard field Goal by Bergner with 3:18 to go in the second stanza, and that’s how the first half ended.


Travon Van. Photo by ©Mark Mesenko for

The Griz upped their lead to 14-3 with 11:45 to go in the third quarter on a 12-yard hook-up between Johnson and tight end Mitch Saylor.  The Coyotes countered that TD with a 2-yard run by Jasper Sanders with 7:16 left in the third quarter, but that was followed by the Johnson-to-Jones touchdown pass.

Canada rushed 16 times for those 114 yards, averaging 7.1 per attempt.  Van had 12 totes for 59 yards, while Nguyen had 6 carries for 34 yards.

Johnson was 16-of-27-0 for 127 yards and the two touchdown passes.  Jones had team-highs of 6 catches for 62 yards.

Wagenmann had 6 tackles to go with his 3 sacks.  Senior free safety Matt Hermanson and junior linebacker Kendrick Van Ackeren each had a game-high 9 tackles, and Hermanson had his second interception in the last two weeks.  UM senior tackle Trevor Rehm added 7 stops.  UM’s defense held USD’s vaunted running attack to 134 yards on 37 attempts – 3.6-yard average per rush.


Jordan Johnson. UM vs USD. Photo by ©Mark Mesenko for

Johnson now has 6,143 career passing yards, moving him up to seventh on the career list, passing Marty Mornhinweg (6,083 yards, 1980-84).

Wagenmann now has 26 career sacks to move up to fifth, passing Corey Falls (24, 1993-96).  He also moved up on the career tackles for loss list to sixth with 36 TFLs, passing Trey Young (34.5, 1999-2002).

Hermanson now has 263 career tackles, passing four players to move to 20th on the all-time list.


Photo by ©Mark Mesenko for

Saeger was 16-of-25-2 for 183 yards and a TD.  Tight end Aaron Ramsey led USD with 5 receptions for 76 yards, while  Jasper rushed 12 times for 74 yards and a score.  Cornerback Mike Lilly had a team-high 8 tackles for the Coyotes.

Picture3The Griz eclipsed the former WGS attendance record of 26,293, set last year in the season and home opener against Appalachian State.

Montana plays at No. 1-ranked North Dakota State, the three-time defending FCS national champion,  next Saturday in a 1:30 p.m. game in Fargo.  USD hosts Northern Arizona next Saturday.