MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) -- Montana defensive tackle Johnny Varona
blocked a 48-yard field-goal attempt with 30 seconds remaining as
the Grizzlies held on for a 24-22 homecoming victory over Idaho
State on Saturday.
"We knew it was going to be our last opportunity to win the
game," said defensive lineman Shane McIntyre. "It was pretty
intense down there on the field."
Idaho State (1-5, 0-3 Big Sky) had pulled within 24-22 on a
5-yard touchdown run by Josh Barnett with 13:23 remaining. The
Bengals' 2-point conversion pass fell incomplete in the end zone.
"The opportunities were there all over the field," Akilah
Lacey said. "We just didn't capitalize like we're supposed to."
Montana had two chances to pad its lead, but Dan Carpenter
missed two fourth-quarter field goals. He was wide left on a
24-yard attempt with 7:48 remaining and hit the upright on a
23-yard attempt with 3:10 to play.
"I told him to make the next one," said UM coach Bobby Hauck.
"He didn't hit the ball cleanly today. It's a lot like a golf
swing. Sometimes it's just a little off."
Idaho State took the ball on its own 20 and marched down as far
as the Grizzly 31-yard line.
After a pass from Mark Hetherington to Lacey fell incomplete in
the end zone on third down, Varona busted through the middle of the
line and got a hand on Jared Johnson's 48-yard field goal attempt.
"The defensive line made an all-out push," McIntyre said. "We
were going for the block all the way."
Craig Ochs passed for 295 yards and two touchdowns for Montana
(5-1, 2-0), ranked seventh in NCAA Division I-AA.
The Grizzlies took a 21-9 lead on a 27-yard pass from Ochs to
Jefferson Heidelberger on the Grizzlies' first drive of the second
ISU got within 21-16 on a 1-yard TD run by Josh Barnett with six
minutes left in the third quarter.
Montana took a 24-16 lead on a 36-yard field goal by Dan
Carpenter with 1:57 left in the third, before ISU pulled within two
early in the fourth quarter.
The Grizzlies led 14-3 at the end of the first quarter, after a
12-yard TD run by Justin Green and a 24-yard pass from Ochs to Jon
Talmage, who caught seven passes for 138 yards. ISU had a 22-yard
The Bengals got within 14-9 on an 11-yard TD pass from
Hetherington to Shack Okoebor with 4:56 left in the half. Johnson
missed the extra point.
Hetherington passed for 415 yards, but was intercepted twice,
once in the end zone in the first half.
It was the third game in four weekends that Montana had endured
a prolific passing offense, but managed to toughen up the defense
in the red zone.
"You got to take a look at what I thought was two pretty good
defenses in the red zone today," said ISU coach Larry Lewis.
Lacey caught 10 passes for 177 yards and Sale Key had seven
catches for 130 yards for ISU, but neither had a touchdown catch.
"Our red zone defense has been solid," Hauck said. "Teams
have moved the ball down the field numerous times, but we tend to
do well in the red zone."
Both teams were flagged for numerous penalties. Montana had 13
penalties for 143 yards while Idaho State had 11 penalties for 113
"I think it hurt both sides today. It was a wash," Lewis said.
"Everything was illegal out there today," Hauck said. "I'm
not going to get going on it because I will wind up not coaching