In his weekly meeting with the media on Monday, Montana head coach Bobby Hauck said his team entered its season-opener completely blind.
South Dakota defensive coordinator Travis Johansen had never coached a Division I game leading up to Saturday’s contest against Hauck and the Griz. His “position less” football strategy appeared to confuse UM senior quarterback Dalton Sneed and the Griz offense for the first 23 minutes of the game.
Sneed’s first pass of the game went for 40 yards to junior Samori Toure. But the Griz could not capitalize. Brandon Purdy missed a 37-yard field goal and Montana did not score for the entire first quarter.
With eight minutes, 30 seconds to play in the first half, Sneed threw a dart to Toure for a 16-yard touchdown, opening the flood gates for a Montana offense spurred on by a stellar day from Sneed and his receiver.
“I just told (the team in the locker room), you just did what 16 straight teams could not do, and that was come in here and put a beatdown on them,” said second-year coach Bobby Hauck on his postgame radio show.
Montana would score 31 over next 20 game minutes as Sneed carved up Johansen’s defense with an aggressive afternoon that saw him complete 37-of-52 passes for a career-high 430 yards and three touchdowns.
Toure caught nine passes for 142 yards and a touchdown. Junior Sammy Akem hauled in a 43-yard touchdown with 11:20 to play in the third quarter to push Montana’s lead to 24-10. The talented junior finished with nine catches for 158 yards.
“As evidenced by the passing totals and the easy completions, they were ganging up on (the run) and gave us numerous fronts we hadn’t practiced against.
“We still have a young O-line,” Hauck said. “They struggled a little bit early on, but all in all it was a pretty complete game. Dalton was able to step up in the pocket. He trusted them to get things picked up. That was something we never saw last year.”
South Dakota quarterback Austin Simmons and wide receiver Kody Case kept the Yotes in the game for most of the first three quarters. Case’s nine-yard touchdown catch cut the score to 24-17 with 7:47 left in the third. Simmons finished with 246 yards passing and two touchdowns, each to Case. Simmons’ top target finished with 11 catches for 144 yards.
Montana, which punted just twice and was an efficient 10 of 16 on third down, had 30 first downs and 510 yards of total offense.
“I don’t really think the score says what a beatdown it was. We missed a short field goal. We threw a pick on the six, and we took a knee on the five at the end of the game. It was a helluva performance by our guys. I’m really proud of them.”
“Hopefully our reputation is growing that way,” Hauck continued. “There is a reason I love these guys. They are focused, they are locked in, they are highly competitive. They listen to what we’re telling them, and they go do it. I’m ecstatic about that part of it.”
The win moves Montana to 1-0 this season and moves the Big Sky Conference to 2-0 in the Big Sky-Missouri Valley Conference challenge.
Photos by Brooks Nuanez. Quotations provided by Montana Sports Information. All Rights Reserved.