Griz Set For Marquee Rematch at Weber State


Among the all-time great rematches in sports history, perhaps none are as legendary as the Muhammad Ali vs. Joe Frazier fights of 1974 and ’75.

This week No. 6-seed Montana (10-3) returns to the road for a “Thrilla in Manilla” of its own, traveling to Ogden, Utah, for an epic quarterfinal title-bout rematch against No. 3-seed Weber State (10-3).

It’s been less than 30 days since the long-time Big Sky foes last squared off in Missoula, with the Grizzlies running away with a convincing 35-16 win on Senior Day.

But that was then, and this is now, and no two football games ever play-out the same when championship aspirations are on the line.

Since that late November day in the friendly confines of Washington-Grizzly Stadium, the Griz have gone 1-1, with a lackluster loss at MSU and a soul-cleansing 73-28 demolition of Southeastern Louisiana in the second round of the FCS playoffs.

Photo courtesy of Grizzly Athletics

Meanwhile, the Wildcats enter the game after a physical battle with triple option-based Kennesaw State where they returned a fumble recovery for a touchdown to take a third-quarter lead and never looked back in a 26-20 home win. Since falling to Montana, WSU has now won two-straight, knocking off rival Idaho State 38-10 at home.

Now Montana will face the tall (and rare) task of beating the same team twice in a season, let alone the same month when UM kicks off at 8 p.m. under the lights at Stewart Stadium in Ogden on national television (ESPN 2) with a trip to the semifinal on the line.

“Playing a team a second time in a year is always a challenge,” said Hauck, who last coached UM in an FCS postseason rematch in 2008 against the same Wildcats to a 24-13 win.

“In reviewing our last game with Weber State, I don’t think we played particularly well, so we need to play better than last time in order to win this game. We need to execute better, and we really just need to go out and play our best game of the season.”

WATCH: This week’s FCS/Big Sky “Battle Royale” will be broadcast nationwide live on ESPN 2 as part of the NCAA’s partnership with the network. ESPN 2 is available on most basic cable and satellite packages around the country. The game will also be streamed online via the Watch ESPN app and at (subscription required).

Long-time FCS announcers Mike Corey (play-by-play) and Rene Ingoglia (analyst) will lead the broadcast.

LISTEN: “Voice of the Griz” Riley Corcoran and long-time analyst Greg Sundberg will bring you the action live from Ogden on KGVO Missoula, the flagship station of the Grizzly Sports Radio Network, and its thirteen affiliates around the state. Live audio web streams can also be found at or on the TuneIn app.

LIVE STATS: Links to live stats can be found at and

BOOSTER BUS: Montana fans are set to hit the road with the Griz and travel south on I-15 to see UM take on Weber State. The Grizzly Scholarship Association and the Grizzly Quarterback Club have organized a booster bus from Missoula to Ogden, departing Friday morning and returning the following day. Space is limited, so interested parties are urged to contact the GSA ASAP for details.

IMPLICATIONS: Saturday’s game marks Montana’s first official return to the national quarterfinals since 2009, a place where they have found incredible success over the years. This year marks an FCS record 24th trip to the playoffs in program history. In those years, the Griz have gone an exceptional 10-1 in quarterfinal round games, with the only loss in the round coming in 2002 against McNeese State.

Should UM improve that mark to 11-1 this week, the Griz will book a trip to the semifinal to face the winner of No. 2-seed James Madison and Northern Iowa.

Montana is 32-21 all-time in the FCS/1-AA playoffs, but just 2-10 in postseason games played in a non-neutral road venue. By contrast, last week’s win over Southeastern Louisiana marked UM’s 30th postseason win at home.

SERIES HISTORY: Montana leads the all-time series over Weber State 40-15 after UM’s week 11 win, and holds an 18-8 advantage in games played in Ogden. Despite Montana’s win in November, the Wildcats enter the game as winners of two of the last three contests.

WILDCAT REWIND: After working its way up the national polls from No. 25/26 all season, Montana made an FCS statement on Nov. 16 when the No. 3 Wildcats were subdued by a dominant defensive effort, big plays on special teams, and three touchdown catches and 193 receiving yards (a career-high prior to last Saturday) from Samori Toure.

Jace LewisDante Olson, and Robby Hauck combined for 39 tackles and held one of the league’s top rushing attacks to just 69 yards, Garret Graves blocked an early punt to set the tone, and UM controlled the ground game with 129 yards and two touchdowns from Marcus Knight to lead UM to one of the biggest home wins in program history.

The 36-16 win for the Griz was Weber State’s only loss to an FCS opponent this season and is tied for the most points scored against the Big Sky’s top defense all season. But as we mentioned, that was then, and this is now.

EN FUEGO – THE LAST TIME OUT: You want to talk about a record-breaking game? How much time you got?

The Grizzlies enter the rematch against Weber State with a hot hand after scorching Southeastern Louisiana for 73 points and 600 yards of total offense in a 73-28 second-round playoff game win.

The week of rest over the Thanksgiving break clearly refueled the Grizzlies’ tanks, with UM putting the loss to MSU to bed in emphatic fashion in the win, scoring the most points ever by the Griz in the postseason and just 6 points shy of breaking an FCS playoff game record of 78, scored by Louisiana-Monroe vs. Alcorn St. in 1992.

The offensive outburst is also tied for the fourth-highest scoring game in Montana history. The Griz scored 73 points against Idaho State in 1999 and Western State in 2010. The only other games where UM has scored more? The Griz scored 79 against Montana State in 1904, scored 81 against Weber State in 1999, and scored a record 133 points against (what is now) Carroll College in 1920.

The scoring spree was built on an FCS record-setting performance by Toure, who caught 12 passes for and unreal 303 yards, passing the great Joe Douglass’ 279-yard performance against Eastern Washington in 1996.

Not only did Toure beat Douglass’ record, he also passed another notable name: NFL Hall of Famer Randy Moss. Toure’s 303 yards pass Moss’s 1996 record of 288 yards against Delaware in the FCS Playoffs. Truly an elite performance.

The guy putting all those passes in his hands was Dalton Sneed, who posted a career-high 459 passing yards and tied his career-high with five passing TDs. His 459 yards now sit among all-time great names at UM like Dickenson, Ah Yat, and Miller as the 13th-best passing game in Grizzly history, and the most passing yards by any Grizzly since Drew Miller’s 505 yards against Idaho in 2000.

With a rush for 12 yards, Toure’s all-purpose yardage total of 315 is the most by any Grizzly since Jerry Louie-McGee’s Big Sky-record receiving day against Cal Poly in 2016.

Also setting a new career-high and Big Sky season-best was sophomore kickoff returner Malik Flowers, who ran back 173 yards worth of kicks, including an 81-yard TD return.

The yardage brought his season total to 877, a new Montana school record-breaking Jabin Sambrano’s 2011 record of 836 yards.

The win also: • Kept Montana undefeated (7-0) at home for the season – the first time since 2014 UM has gone unscathed in Missoula.

• Kept Montana undefeated against teams from the Southland Conference at home in the playoffs.

SCOUTING THE WILDCATS: Montana’s coaches and players will find themselves watching familiar film this week as they prepare to face Weber State for the second time in a month.

Not much has likely changed in the WSU game plan, with running back and 2018 freshman of the year Josh Davis leading the ground game.

Davis ran for 88 yards and a TD against Idaho State but just 36 yards against Kennesaw. WSU had two, 100-yard receivers in the game against the Owls, with QB Jake Constantine going 19-31-1 for 234 yards and a score to give the ‘Cats a balanced attack.

• Wildcat head coach Jay Hill was named the AFCA Regional Coach of the Year after winning a third-straight Big Sky championship. In six seasons, Hill is 46-29 at WSU and 33-14 in Big Sky play.

Hauck remains the winningest coach by percentage in Big Sky Conference history with a 95-25 record at the helm of the Grizzlies and 57-12 in league play.

• Taking the field on Saturday will be WSU D-end Jonah Williams, who shared the Big Sky Defensive Player of the Year award with Olson this year with 6.5 sacks to lead the league’s best defense.


TOURE TEARING IT UP: Toure’s almost obscene total of 303 yards against SLU has put him in some rarified air in the Montana record books. With one season left to play:

• He is now No. 8 on UM’s all-time receiving yards list with 2,403 and trails Raul Pacheco by just 124 yards at No. 7. Along with Louie-McGee and Samuel Akem, Montana now has three of the top-21 receivers in Grizzly history on the roster at the same time.

• Toure is also now No. 14 in career receptions with 147 to his name, tied with his former position coach and current Idaho State offensive coordinator Mike Ferriter’s career total.

• With 20 career touchdown catches each, Toure and Akem are now both tied at No. 11 on UM’s all-time list. 

• Toure’s season total of 1,410 yards is the third-best in a single year in UM history (trailing Douglass and Marc Mariani) and third-most in the FCS to date. The junior from Portland needs just 36 more receiving yards to become the nation’s top receiver this season and 70 more yards from passing Mariani’s 2009 school-record total of 1,479 yards.

OLSON CHASING HISTORY: Dante Olson increased his school-record season tackle total to 165 last week with 13 against the Lions. That brings his career tackle total to 383 stops, all in just two years as a starter.

Olson needs just 11 tackles now to become UM’s all-time tackling leader, passing hall of famer Vince Huntsberger’s school-record 393 stops. Olson also needs just 12 more tackles this season to break the Big Sky single-season record of 176 set by JC Sherrett of EWU.

Oh yeah, he is also a two-time top-three finalist for the Buck Buchanan Award, a National Scholar-Athlete, the Big Sky co-DPOY, just a sample of his long list of career accolades.

TOP TACKLERS: Olson isn’t the only Grizzly that is racking up tackles at a furious pace. Robby Hauck is now tied with Kroy Biermann on UM’s career tackle list at 220 with two years left to play (!). Hauck is also now tied with Brock Coyle for the No. 9-most stops in a season at 125, giving the Griz two of the top 10 tacklers in UM history on the field at the same time.

Along with Jace Lewis (Montana’s third 100+ tackle machine with 119 this year), Hauck and Olson have combined for 42-percent of Montana’s total tackles this year. In total, there are 36 Grizzlies who have at least one stop.

THE NEED FOR SNEED: Despite missing two games to injury, Dalton Sneed is putting together one of the top-10 passing seasons in Grizzly history with 3,179 yards.

• That brings his career total to 5,902, enough to pass Drew Miller’s career total of 5,900 and put him at No. 8 among UM’s all-time best passers.

• With 46 passing touchdowns to his name, Sneed is now tied with Miller and John Edwards at No. 6 on UM’s all-time list.

GOOD KNIGHT: Sophomore tailback Marcus Knight became the 13th player in UM history to rush for 1,000 yards in a season and the first to do it since 2014 when Jordan Canada posted back-to-back thousand-yard seasons. 

• With 23 rushing and 25 total TDs for 150 points this year, Knight has passed the great Chase Reynolds and is now Montana’s single-season all-time leader in all three of those categories.

• He needs just four more TDs this year to break the Big Sky record for single-season scores and 22 more points to break that conference record.

TEAM TOTALS: • Montana offensive coordinator Timm Rosenbach‘s offense is on the cusp of setting a school record for total first downs in a season, with the offense needing to move the chains just 29 more times this year to break the record of 345.

HIGH SCORING: Montana has scored 504 points so far this season, and needs just 34 more to become the highest-scoring offense in school history.

QUICK HITS: • Sophomore Eli Alford picked up a safety against SLU, the first safety for UM since Derek Crittenden had one against Cal Poly in 2015.

• Senior kicker Adam Wilson had his best day handling kickoffs in a Grizzly uniform against SLU with a career-high 721 yards and nine touchbacks.