Griz Overpower Northern Colorado 38-13 in 2014 Homecoming (PHOTO GALLERY)


Senior quarterback Jordan Johnson threw three touchdown passes and ran for another and senior halfback Travon Van rushed for 127 yards and a TD to lead the University of Montana Grizzlies to a 38-13 win over the Northern Colorado Bears in front of a homecoming crowd of 25,269 in Washington Grizzly Stadium Saturday afternoon.

It was the Big Sky Conference opener for the Grizzlies and Bears, and it was also Montana’s 13th win in a row over UNC. UM improved to 24-4 in homecoming games in WGS.

The Griz (3-2/1-0) scored 28 first-quarter points and led 28-7 lead after the first 15 minutes of action. When Johnson rushed for his first score since the 2011 season, a 9-yarder, he gave Montana a 28-7 advantage with 39 seconds left in the opening stanza.


2014 Homecoming. Photo by ©Mark Mesenko for

Montana opened up a 21-0 lead on a 71-yard scoring run by Van with 4:41 left in the opening quarter. The Griz had taken a 14-0 lead on a 41-yard touchdown throw from Johnson to redshirt freshman Ryan Burke, the first TD grab of Burke’s career.

UM scored the first point of the game on a 9-yard throw from Johnson to junior wide receiver Jamaal Jones. The Grizzlies’ opening TD was set up on a blocked punt by Griz junior defensive end Addison Owen, which gave his team a first-and-goal on UNC’s 10-yard line.

The Bears (1-3/0-1) cut the Grizzlies’ lead to 28-7 on a 74-yard run by junior quarterback Jonathan Newsom. Newsom started in place of regular starter Sean Rubalcaba, who was reportedly unable to play due to a shoulder injury, which was discovered when he was warming up prior to the game. It is the first game that Newsom has played in this season.


2014 Homecoming. Photo by ©Mark Mesenko for

UNC added three points on a 41-yard field goal by freshman kicker Seth Czapenski with 4:01 remaining in the second quarter, making the score 28-10, UM. The Griz scored a couple of minutes later when Johnson hit redshirt freshman tight end Mike Ralston on a 21-yard touchdown pass, which gave UM a 35-10 bulge with 2:14 to go until the break, and that’s how the score ended in the first half.

Neither team could muster up much offensive production in the second half, as there were just six total points scored – three by each squad, and all of those came in the third quarter.

Junior kicker Daniel Sullivan upped the Grizzlies’ lead to 38-10 on a 37-yard field goal with 10:13 left in the third stanza. Czapenski booted a 26-yard field goal at the 1:05 mark of the third quarter which proved to be the final points in the contest.

Picture4Johnson was 11-of-20-1 for 181 yards and 3 TDs, and he also rushed five times for 24 yards. Van picked up those 127 rush yards on just nine totes, averaging 14.1 yards per carry. UM senior halfback Jordan Canada added 51 yards on 14 carries. Van’s 71-yard touchdown runs tied him for the sixth longest in school history.

Jones led the Griz with 4 receptions for 47 yards and the a touchdown, while Van had 3 grabs.

The Griz defense was led junior linebackers Herbert Gamboa and Jeremiah Kose with 10 tackles each. Senior free safety Matt Hermanson, junior linebacker Kendrick Van Ackeren, and junior cornerback Nate Harris had 7 tackles apiece.

Senior defensive end Zack Wagenmann added 6 tackles, 2 stops for losses, a sack, and he forced a fumble and then recovered it. Junior end Derek Crittenden had 3 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, and a forced fumble. Junior strong safety Justin Whitted had a pick – his second this season.

Montana had 11 tackles for loss and five sacks in the game, and without Newsom’s 74-yard scoring run the Bears had 84 net yards rushing on 40 totes – an average of 2.1 yards per carry.


2014 Homecoming. Photo by ©Mark Mesenko for

With his three touchdown throws Johnson moved up to third in school history with 59 passing TDs, passing Cole Bergquist (58, 2005-08). Johnson is now fifth in TD’s responsible for with 64, going by John Edwards (62, 1999-2002).

Wagenmann now has 27 career sacks, which ties him for fourth all-time with Mike Murphy (27, 2003-06).

Newsom was 22-of-40-1 for 198 yards, and led UNC with 72 net yards rushing. Junior receiver Sean Leslie led the Bears with 6 catches for 71 yards. Junior linebacker Jaqueal Walker had a game-high 12 tackles for UNC.

Montana travels to North Dakota for the third year in a row next Saturday, Oct. 4, for a conference game, which kicks off at 12:37 (Mountain) in Grand Forks. UNC hosts Northern Arizona in a league contest.

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