Griz score 45 unanswered in the second half to run away from North Alabama
MISSOULA, Montana — The Grizzlies appeared shaken following a gruesome injury suffered by Gavin Crow covering a kickoff.
Once Montana overcame any shock, the host Griz avalanched North Alabama in a game that went from slugfest to blowout in the blink of an eye.
North Alabama quarterback Christian Lopez hit big-play threat Cortez Hall for a 74-yard touchdown on the drive following a lower leg injury suffered by Crow, a talented junior safety from UM, about 10 minutes into Montana’s home opener. Jakobi Byrd hauled in a 64-yard touchdown pass from Lopez with one minute, 48 seconds left in the first half to give UNA a 17-16 lead and deflate the rowdy Griz faithful.
Montana manufactured an efficient, fast-paced drive to open the second half, forced a turnover on the first defensive possession following halftime and scored again to swing the momentum in its favor. By the time sophomore Marcus Knight broke multiple tackles on the way to his third touchdown of the evening, the Griz led 33-17 and the home team had the momentum.
By the time Jerry Louie-McGee answered the chants of his first name resonating throughout a raucous Washington-Grizzly Stadium by ripping off a 74-yard touchdown run, the route was on.
Montana scored 24 points in the third quarter, 21 more in the fourth and accelerated its way to a 61-17 win in front of 24,033 on Saturday night in Missoula. The win is Montana’s 16th straight in its home opener and serves as the most points ever surrendered by North Alabama.
“It was a good game, thought that North Alabama was a physical team that tackled well and did a nice job, were ready to go,” Montana second-year head coach Bobby Hauck said. “I thought they handled it and I thought we helped them a little bit.
“At halftime, we said, ‘Our stuff is good, our plan is sound. We just need to play better.’ That’s what we did: play better in the second half.”