Griz clamp down in the second half, blow past Portland State

HILLSBORO, Ore. – Montana’s redemption tour continued Saturday in front of a partisan road crowd as the Griz blitzed Portland State, literally and figuratively on the way to another convincing win.

All season Montana has been a second-half team. That was the case again on Saturday as the Grizzlies rallied for a 38-23 victory at Portland State. The win avenges last season’s 22-20 PSU win in Missoula, a victory that came thanks to Cody Williams’ 52-yard field goal at the buzzer.

Montana has not avenged losses to UC Davis (49-21 UC Davis last year, 45-20 Griz this year) and Portland State. The Griz do not play Western Illinois or North Dakota but will have a chance for revenge from its fifth and final loss from last season, a 29-25 defeat at the hands of fierce rival Montana State in Missoula.

Saturday at Hillsboro High School stadium, the Grizzlies trailed at the half, 17-14, after Portland State scored 10 consecutive points late in the second quarter and receiving the ball first to begin the third.

The visitors, playing front of a largely supportive crowd despite being 550 miles from Missoula. The Griz put constant pressure on Portland State quarterback Davis Alexander, sacking him five times (including three by linebacker Jace Lewis) and keeping him under constant duress. And on offense, Montana took then expanded the lead with touchdowns on its first two possessions after the break.

That opening drive set the tone for the entire second half. Montana out-scored Portland State after halftime on th way to a 38-23 victory. The win moves No. 8 Montana to 4-1 in Big Sky Conference play, 7-2 overall.

“Great team win for the Montana Grizzlies,” head coach Bobby Hauck said. “When things are going against us, we have a group that can fight their way out of it. They’re a mature and mentally tough group, and I think you saw that today.”

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