Montana Rolls Over Sac State 31-13 (PHOTO GALLERY)


The number one defense was outstanding and halfback Jordan Canada rushed for 109 yards and two touchdowns, as the 12th-ranked University of Montana Grizzlies defeated the visiting Sacramento State Hornets 31-13 in a Big Sky Conference game in UM’s Washington-Grizzly Stadium Saturday afternoon.

The Grizzlies improved to 4-1 in league play and 6-3 overall, while the Hornets are now 1-4/4-5. Montana leads the series against Sacramento State 18-1.

The Hornets took an early 3-0 lead on their first possession of the game on a 15-play drive that was capped off by a 27-yard field goal by junior kicker Brad Cornish. However, Sac State the ball and a first-and-10 on Montana’s 13-yard line on its opening series, but the Griz “D” set the tone early, and held the Hornets to just three yards on three plays, to force them into kicking the field goal.


UM vs SAC STATE 11/1/14. Photo by ©Mark Mesenko for Make it Missoula

Montana then out-scored Sac State 17-0 over the next 23 minutes, though, and when senior halfback Travon Van scored on a 7-yard run he gave the Griz a 17-3 lead with 6:07 left in the second quarter.

Canada gave UM the lead for good early in the contest when he scored on a 1-yard run with 4:14 to go at 7-3 in the opening quarter.

After Canada’s first touchdown run, Daniel Sullivan’s 29-yard field goal lengthened the Griz lead to 10-3. Van tacked on his TD after Sullivan’s three-pointer to put Montana ahead by two touchdowns (17-3).

The Hornets trimmed the Grizzlies’ lead to 17-6 with 33 seconds to go until the break on a 21-yard field goal by Cornish, and Montana took that 11-point advantage into its locker-room at halftime.


UM vs SAC STATE 11/1/14. Photo by ©Mark Mesenko for Make it Missoula


The Griz out-scored the Hornets 14-0 in the third quarter, starting when Canada broke numerous tackles on his way to a 68-yard scoring run, and that was followed by a pass from senior quarterback Jordan Johnson’s to senior tight end Mitch Saylor which went for a 14-yard touchdown. The Johnson-to-Saylor hook-up gave Montana a 31-6 lead with 3:06 remaining in the third quarter.

Sac State tallied its only touchdown of the game with 32 seconds left to play on a 1-yard run by senior quarterback Garrett Safron. The Hornets’ racked up 87 yards on their final scoring drive.

Montana’s number one “D” had allowed just 192 total yards after the first three quarters of play, but Sac State picked up 164 more yards and scored its only TD of the game in the final quarter, which was against UM’s reserves. A key stat registered by the Griz defense was that they held the Hornets to 4-of-15 on their third down conversion attempts.


UM vs SAC STATE 11/1/14. Photo by ©Mark Mesenko for Make it Missoula

Canada rushed 12 times for his 109 yards, and averaged 9.1 yards per carry en route to his 11th career 100-yard rushing game. Van added 8 totes for 42 yards and a score, and Johnson gained 33 yards on just three carries.

Johnson was 13-of-21-0 for 143 yards and a touchdown. Junior wide receiver Jamaal Jones led the Griz with 4 receptions for 44 yards, while redshirt freshman Josh Janssen and Saylor had 3 grabs each.

Junior linebacker Kendrick Van Ackeren had a game-high 9 tackles for the Griz, while junior LB Herbert Gamboa and senior defensive tackle Trevor Rehm had 7 tackles apiece.


UM vs SAC STATE 11/1/14. Photo by ©Mark Mesenko for Make it Missoula


Senior end Zack Wagenmann added a sack, while Rehm and fellow senior defensive tackle Tonga Takai teamed up for another one. Montana had 10 pass break-ups in the game, led by senior cornerback Joshua Dennard with three.

Picture8Van Ackeren returned his first career interception 59 yards to the Hornets’ 21-yard line, and his pick led to Sullivan’s second quarter field goal.

Safron was 27-of-48-1 passing for 262 yards and he rushed for a team-high 43 yards on 13 carries. Junior wide receiver Nnamdi Agude had game-highs of 8 catches for 99 yards.

The Grizzlies play 6th-ranked Eastern Washington next Saturday, Nov. 8, in Cheney, while the Hornets host Southern Utah that day.