Griz Fall to Cal Poly 41-21


Quarterback Chris Brown rushed for 226 yards and two touchdowns to lead the host Cal Poly Mustangs to a 41-21 Big Sky Conference victory over the 7th-ranked University of Montana Grizzlies Saturday evening in Alex Spanos Stadium.

The loss ended a three-game winning streak by the Grizzlies, who also dropped their first league contest of the season and are now 3-1 in the conference and 5-3 overall. It was the fourth win in a row for the Mustangs, who improved to 4-1 in league and 5-3 overall.

Brown, a 6-2, 200-pound junior, rushed 21 times for those 226 yards to average 10.7 yards per carry, and he also passed for 107 yards and a touchdown.

The Griz scored their first and only points of the second half with 6:34 remaining when senior quarterback Jordan Johnson connected with junior wide receiver Jamaal Jones for a 2-yard scoring pass, cutting the Mustangs’ lead to 34-21. However, UM’s subsequent on-side kick was recovered by senior linebacker Nick Dunzbar on the Cal Poly 41-yard line.

Brown put the game out of reach with 9:39 left to play when he sprinted up the middle for a 15–yard touchdown run, giving the Mustangs a 20-point (34-14) lead. Cal Poly’s final came TD was a 1-yard scoring run by junior back-up quarterback Dano Graves with 1:10 left in the contest.

The Mustangs scored back-to-back touchdowns in the third quarter and took the first double-digit lead of the contest – the second TD coming on a 17-yard run by Brown with 57 seconds left in that stanza. .

The third lead change of the contest came at the 10:46 mark of the third quarter, when Brown hit sophomore halfback Kori Garcia who was wide open in the right side of the end zone for 5-yard touchdown, giving Cal Poly a 21-14 lead.

Cal Poly tied the game up for the second time of the opening half on a 5-yard run by senior fullback Brandon Howe with 48 seconds left until intermission. Griz sophomore kicker Harrison Greenberg had a chance to give UM the lead, but his 38-yard field goal attempts was wide left, and the first half ended Picture100in a 14-all deadlock.

Montana took to its first and only lead of the game at 14-7 with 5:10 remaining until halftime, as Johnson hit senior tight end Mitch Saylor on a 20-yard touchdown pass. The big play on that drive was a 50-yard pass completion from sophomore wide receiver Ryan Burke to redshirt freshman wide-out Josh Janssen, which advanced the ball to Cal Poly’s 20-yard line, and Johnson’s TD throw to Saylor came on the next play after the Burke-to-Janssen hook-up.

The Grizzlies tied the game at 7-7 with 11:57 to go to halftime, when Johnson hit Jones for a 1-yard touchdown pass. The Griz drive was sparked by two long pass completions by Johnson, the first to Jones and the second to senior wide receiver Sean Haynes, covering 36 and 24 yards, respectively.

The Mustangs scored on their first possession of the game and scored the only points of the first quarter, when they marched 66 yards in 13 plays, as Garcia scored on a 1-yard run, giving Cal Poly a 7-0 lead.

Johnson was 18-of-38-0 for 248 yards passing and 3 touchdowns. Jones had game-highs of 8 receptions for 134 yards and 2 scores, while Saylor had 4 grabs for 31 yards and a TD. Senior halfback Travon Van led UM in rushing with 45 yards on seven totes.

Griz senior free safety Matt Hermanson had a game-high 14 tackles, while junior linebacker Jeremiah Kose added 9.

Hermanson now has 306 career tackles to move up to seventh in school history, jumping past six players, including former defensive back Tim Hauck (8th, 305 tackles, 1987-89).

Brown was 9-of-17-0 passing for his 107 yards. Howe rushed 19 ties for 98 yards and a TD. Senior LB Cameron Ontko led the Mustangs with 10 tackles.

Cal Poly, which leads the FCS in rushing, gained 421 yards on 66 carries. Montana had 298 yards passing, but was limited to 78 yards on the ground on 24 attempts.

Montana hosts Sacramento State in a Big Sky game next Saturday, Nov. 1, with kickoff slated for 12:10 p.m. in Washington-Grizzly Stadium. Cal Poly hosts Montana State in a 6:07 (Pacific time) that day.