Dec. 5, 2009

By Glenn R. Junkert
Special to

MISSOULA, Mont. – Stephen F. Austin head coach J. C. Harper refused to blame his team’s 10 turnovers for its 51-0 loss to Montana Saturday in an Football Championship Subdivision quarterfinal. Instead, he lauded the Montana Grizzlies, including coach Bobby Hauck, and Montana’s game plan, which created an environment that resulted in the turnovers.

“Montana played a great football game,” said Harper. “Montana’s good, and so I think that had a lot to do with the things that we did today. I don’t think it had to do with anything other than them playing football at a high level.

”Obviously, that’s where we’d like to get to. But they played at a much higher level today than we did, on both sides of the ball, and that’s just nothing to me but players knowing how to win, and what I said earlier in the week ... that you can see Montana expects to win and knows how to win. I can’t say enough good things about Montana.”

Harper said Montana’s defensive scheme, which resulted in SFA throwing five interceptions, was not dramatically different than the defensive schemes they’ve seen from other opponents.

In an attempt to explain his team’s five thrown interceptions, Harper said, “I wish I could figure that out. I think Montana had a lot to do with that. One thing you notice about Montana is they don’t stay on blocks very long. They play really fast on defense, tackle well, they’re in the right spots ... just a very good football team. I was impressed.”

Montana coach Bobby Hauck seemed equally impressed with his team’s performance.

Responding to a question about Montana’s ability to shut down SFA’s offense, Hauck said,  “I’m still kind of blown away by it. The take-aways were big. Certainly, when you take it away 10 times and you only give it back once, you’re going to win the game.”

Hauck said that his coaches emphasize take-ways every day in practice. “When you’re carrying the football,” said Hauck, “It’s the team’s football, not yours. You’d better take care of it for the rest of the guys. We just consider ball security a religion here.”

TALE OF TWO QUARTERBACKS: SFA quarterback Jeremy Moses came into the game with 3,920 passing yards and had thrown 40 touchdowns compared to Montana starting quarterback Andrew Selle (2,250 yards, 21 TD). Those numbers flipped Saturday, though not dramatically, with one exception: Interceptions.

Moses had solid stats passing in the first half, with completions to Graly Crawford of 55 yards and to Aaron Rhea of 41 yards.

Moses completed 22-of-54 passes for 204 yards.  

Montana’s Selle completed 19-of-30 for 281 yards, his longest at 39 yards. But Selle connected for three touchdowns and no interceptions.

SFA reserve quarterback Dalton Williams, a sophomore, took over for Moses on SFA’s last series of the third quarter after Moses was hit hard by blitzing Montana defenders.

DEFENSIVE INTENSITY: Montana defensive tackle Tyler Hobbs credited Montana’s pre-game preparation for its success.

“It’s a huge accomplishment for our defense,” said Hobbs, who explained that interceptions by three Montana defensive linemen was part of the Grizzlies’ game plan.

“We knew what one of their receivers was going to do,” said Hobbs. “We knew that their inside receiver was going to kind of hitch-up. He was doing that all game (last week against) Eastern. He kind of had this spot-drop. We knew where they were going with it, so we just dropped right in front of it and saw the football in front of our eyes.”

DRAW PLAY: Selle had good success with the draw and had this to say: “It’s a play that we’ve run around here a long time. We liked the look that they gave us down there inside the 5-yard line with our spread offense, and I think it was Levi Horn that hit their guy and I was just untouched into the end zone.”

COLD CONDITIONS: Wind Chill of 18 degrees. 26 degrees at game time. Dry. Cold.