Louie-McGee electrifies home crowd, teammates alike with return TD

MISSOULA, Montana — Sammy Akem could not believe his eyes.

North Alabama punted it to him again.

“I was like, ‘Really?! They are kicking to him again? Come on now,” Akem said with a effervescent grin on his face. “The first couple, it was like, ‘He might get one.’ Then he got one. And I was like, ‘You are silly, North Alabama.”

Despite two slicing, dicing, crowd-igniting, score-sparking returns in the game’s first 42 minutes, North Alabama head coach Chris Willis opted to punt right at Jerry Louie-McGee once again Saturday night. With the crowd of more than 24,000 chanting “Jerry! Jerry!” in unison, the man nicknamed “Mr. Electricity” sent a jolt through Washington-Grizzly Stadium, the nitro boost late in the third quarter the Griz needed to speed away from UNA in a 61-17 victory.

“I told him it’s been two long years!,” Akem, a junior wide receiver at UM, said following Wednesday’s practice. “If anybody has been to a Griz game, everybody knows the best thing about going to a Griz game is seeing Jerry Louie-McGee run a punt return back. Seeing him do that again, it was just great. We all LOVED it.”

Louie-McGee had returns of 29 and 31 yards earlier in the game, the first giving Montana a short field that aided a touchdown drive, the second which resulted in a Brandon Purdy field goal. Louie-McGee’s 74-yard return for a touchdown with three minutes to play in the third frame sent the home crowd into a frenzy while bringing jubilation to the Griz sideline.

“I thought he was going to get the first or second one, get some space and he had two really nice returns in the first half,” Montana head coach Bobby Hauck said. “The guys on that team really believe in him.. They work hard for him. Our mantra on that team is ‘Hard work equals real estate’ and we had a lot of real estate tonight.”

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