2:05 PM ET, November 13, 2004
Washington Grizzly, Missoula, MT
MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) -- For the second consecutive weekend, the Montana football team jumped out to an early lead, but this time they did a better job of holding off a rally in a 52-21 victory over Sacramento State.
Justin Green rushed for three first-quarter touchdowns and Jon Talmage caught three scoring passes for the Grizzlies (8-2, 5-1 Big Sky), ranked ninth in NCAA Division I-AA.
UM coach Bobby Hauck said most people associated with the I-AA playoffs believed that beating Sacramento State would put the Grizzlies back into the playoffs for the 12th consecutive season.
If Montana beats Montana State next weekend, they share the league title with the Eagles and earn the Big Sky's automatic playoff berth because the Grizzlies beat Eastern Washington. If Montana State wins, Eastern Washington will win the league crown.
Craig Ochs completed 26 of 31 passes for 300 yards and three touchdowns.
"Ochs made throws I think I could have caught at 45 years old," said Sac State coach Steve Mooshagian. "Give Craig credit, he threaded the needle. Those were NFL throws. A quarterback who can make those kind of throws can play at the next level, because those are the kind of throws you have to make on third downs ... 26 of 31 -- that's accuracy man."
But Ochs wasn't limited to throwing the football.
On Montana's third possession, Ochs lateralled to Jefferson Heidelberger, who passed back to his quarterback on a 30-yard scoring play.
"Coach Hauck pressures us to play our best ball in November," Ochs said. "From the Portland State game (a 35-32 loss) to this week, we've really taken some steps forward. I'm as healthy as I've been since I've been in the state of Montana," the Colorado transfer said.
Matt Lebsock intercepted Ryan Leadingham on Sacramento State's first play from scrimmage following a 1-yard TD run by Green.
"You can't start out with turnovers and penalties and get behind 28-0 to a team like that," Mooshagian said. "In the second, third and fourth quarters we were competitive, but the damage was done. They took advantage of every one of our miscues."
Montana scored on its first six possessions, before missing a field goal just before halftime. The Grizzlies then scored on their first two possessions of the second half in beating Sac State (3-7, 2-5) for a 10th straight year.
Ochs's third TD to Talmage was a 38-yard pass with 6:38 left in the third quarter that gave the Grizzlies a 52-7 lead.
"We talked at halftime about coming out and putting points up and finishing them off, and we did," Hauck said. "We thought at that point the game was out of reach. We played darn near every guy who suited up."
Leadingham passed for 128 yards and two touchdowns for Sac State, but was intercepted three times and sacked four times. Leadingham had a 7-yard TD pass to Phillip Perry with 5:27 left in the third and an 11-yard TD pass to Fred Amey with 9:18 remaining.
Ryan Mole rushed for 176 yards and a 2-yard TD run early in the second quarter that pulled the Hornets within 28-7.
Amey caught eight passes for 108 yards and set a Big Sky record with 3,906 receiving yards in his career. The old mark was 3,847 set by Kasey Dunn of Idaho from 1988-91.
"Records are nice to look at," Amey said. "But right now records don't mean much. I'm more concerned with us not winning games."
Montana's Dan Carpenter kicked a 36-yard field goal in the second quarter and five extra points.
Green rushed for 66 yards, Talmage caught five passes for 85 yards and Montana forced five Hornet turnovers. Torrey Thomas, Shane MacIntyre and Tuff Harris also had interceptions for the Grizzlies.