Dec. 6, 2008

Courtesy of Montana Athletics

The Grizzlies won the rematch, 24-13.
Montana and Weber State ended the regular season each with a share of the Big Sky Conference championship, with the Wildcats earning the automatic bid on the strength of a 45-28 win over the Griz in October. On this day, the Grizzlies beat the only opponent to defeat them this season to advance to the semifinals and face the winner of the Villanova/James Madison game.

With 9:17 remaining in the game, Weber State came within four points on a 22-yard field goal. Montana, on their next possession, needed to put more points on the board and they did just that: Reynolds took a handoff to the left, followed his blockers and found the end zone from 12 yards out with 4:02 left on the game clock. Montana’s defense did the rest by preventing the Wildcats from scoring any more points.
Montana running back Chase Reynolds ran for 185 yards and two touchdowns on 33 carries. Griz quarterback Cole Bergquist completed 8 of his 19 passes for 113 yards.

Weber State quarterback Cameron Higgins went 19-of-40 for 270 yards and one interception. His favorite target was Trevyn Smith who caught seven balls for 129 yards. Smith also ran 19 times for 104 yards and one touchdown.

Weber State’s promising opening drive ended in a turnover when Higgins fumbled the ball and senior defensive tackle Craig Mettler recovered. Seven plays later on a fourth-and-5, Bergquist faked a handoff and ran a draw 35 yards to the end zone to give the Griz an early 7-0 lead with 9:49 remaining in the first quarter.

Weber State’s next drive ended like its first drive. After Cody Nakamura caught a short pass, Griz freshman defensive end Ryan Fetherston stripped the ball and junior safety Shann Schillinger recovered at the 5-minute mark of the first quarter.

Bergquist, faced with a third-and-13 on Montana’s 49-yard line, lofted a ball to Palmer. Palmer elevated above three defenders and plucked the ball out of the air for a 35-yard reception to keep the drive going. Three plays later, Reynolds capitalized on the second turnover of the game by running it in from one yard out to give the Griz a two-touchdown lead to finish the first quarter.

With Montana’s defense blitzing, Higgins completed a 63-yard screen pass to Smith. Two plays later, Smith ran it in from 2-yards out to bring the Wildcats within a touchdown at 7-14 with 9:24 remaining in the first half.

On fourth-and-1 from the Wildcat 3-yard line, Montana decided to go for it. Weber State held, tackling Reynolds one yard short of the first down. The Wildcats took over on the 2-yard line with 3:52 left in the second quarter. Despite advancing the ball to their 48-yard line, they punted it back to Montana. The Griz ran the clock out to end the first half.

Montana was able to convert both Weber State turnovers into touchdowns in the first half.
Montana received the ball to start the second half and came away with three points on a 38-yard Brody McKnight field goal.

Senior safety Colt Anderson put a stop to the Wildcats’ first drive of the second half. Anderson, fully extended and parallel to the ground, intercepted the Higgins pass at Weber State’s 41-yard line with 7:36 still on the third quarter game clock. Montana couldn’t overcome a holding penalty and had to punt it back to the Wildcats.

Weber State made it a one-score game again at the end of the third quarter when kicker Jon Williams connected on a 32-yard field goal, 10-17.

After an 11-play, 76-yard drive, Williams connected on another Weber State field goal — this time from 22 yards out — to bring the Wildcats within four at 17-13 with 9:17 to go in the game.

Montana’s second drive of the fourth quarter was aided by two Weber State penalties — a personal foul and pass interference — that got them into Wildcat territory. Bergquist, faced with a third-and-7 from the Wildcat 31-yard line, dropped back to pass, but couldn’t find any open receivers. He tucked the ball and ran for 17 yards to keep the crucial drive going. Two plays later, Reynolds took a handoff to the left, followed his lead blockers and found the end zone on the 12-yard touchdown run to make it a two score game at 24-13. The 10-play, 74-yard touchdown drive took 5:07 off the clock.

Weber State got the ball back with 3:56 remaining in the game. The Wildcats faced an early third-and-long from their 43-yard line. Higgins connected with Smith for 20 yards to keep their hopes of mounting a fourth quarter comeback alive. With 2:20 remaining in the game, Weber State faced a fourth-and-18 from Montana’s 40-yard line. Higgins completed the fourth down pass to Bryant Eteauati, but they came up four yards short of the first down, turning the ball over on downs. Montana’s offense was then able to run the clock out to end the game.