Montana 35, at Southern Utah 17

By DAVE GUFFEY for GoGriz.com

Senior running back Jordan Canada rushed for a career-high 206 yards and two touchdowns to lead the University of Montana Grizzlies to a crucial 35-15 Big Sky Conference win over the host Southern Utah Thunderbirds Saturday afternoon in Eccles Coliseum.

The win improved Montana’s record to 7-4 overall and 5-2 in league, and kept the Grizzlies’ FCS post-season playoff hopes alive. The victory also gave Montana its 28th winning season in the past 29 years. SUU is now 2-9/2-5.

The Griz win also set up a big match-up between Montana and the first-place (at press time) Montana State Bobcats next Saturday in Missoula in the 114th contest in the storied rivalry.

It was a historic game for senior defensive end Zack Wagenmann who had a sack in the win, as he ties Tim Bush (32.5 sacks, 2000-03) and goes by Kroy Biermann (32.0, 2004-07) for second. He needs just a half-a-sack to pass Bush for the school record.

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Zack Wagenmann – Photo by ©Mark Mesenko for Make itMissoula.

A 14-yard TD run by Canada put Montana back on top at 21-17with 4:38 left in the third quarter, while his 56-yard TD run with 14:27 to go in the fourth quarter gave the Griz a 28-17 advantage.

An 8-play, 88 yard drive using up 4:22 on the clock, capped off by a 1- yard TD run by junior fullback Jamal Wilson – his first career touchdown, and iced the win for the Griz and have them a three-score (35-17) lead.

After a blocked field goal by Lehi Afatasi, SUU scored on a 24-yard field goal by Keita Calhoun good, and took its first and only lead at 17-14 with 8:37 to go in the third quarter.

Oh Canada photo by Mark Mesenko

Jordan Canada. Photo by ©Mark Mesenko for Make ItMissoula.

Southern Utah tied the game 7-7 a 4:37 of the second quarter 5-yard touchdown pass from Ammon Olsen to Mitch Jessop. An offside penalty on SUU allows Montana to maintain possession on its next drive, and two plays later, Johnson hit Travon Van on a 62- yard TD pass, giving Montana a 14-7 lead.

Southern Utah scored with 27 seconds to go until halftime on a 3-yard run by junior QB Ammon Olsen, which tied the score 14-14 at intermission.

Montana scored with 9:30 remaining in the second quarter on a 12- yard pass from senior QB Jordan Johnson to senior wide receiver Sean Haynes, as the Griz took a 7-0 lead.

Canada rushed 28 times for his 206 yards and two scoring runs, to average 7.4 yards a carry. Sophomore halfback John Nguyen rushed 8 times for 90 yards, and picked up key first downs in the final quarter.

On defense, senior free safety Matt Hermanson had a game-high 12 tackles, while junior linebackers Kendrick Van Ackeren and Jeremiah Kose added 11 and 9 stops, respectively.

The Griz host the Bobcats next Saturday, Nov. 2, in the 114th “Brawl of the Wild” showdown, with kickoff at 3:10 in Washington-Grizzly Stadium. The Thunderbirds are at 22nd-ranked Northern Arizona on Saturday.

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