OGDEN, Utah (ABC 4 Sports) - A fourth quarter rally lifted Montana past Weber State 24-21 Saturday afternoon at Stewart Stadium.
Montana converted a 24-yard field goal as the only scoring in the first quarter. The Wildcats put together an 80-yard drive to start the second quarter and C.J. Tuckett punched in a touchdown from one-yard out. Jordan Canada came back with a four-yard touchdown run for the Grizzlies and Montana led 10-7 at halftime.
After an interception by Antwain Stutson on Montana’s opening possession of the second half, the Wildcats put together a 66-yard drive, capped by a Kris Parham touchdown and Weber State took a 14-10 lead. A Montana field goal cut the lead to 14-13 after three quarters.
With under 7:00 to play Montana scored on a nine-yard touchdown pass from Shay Smithwick-Hann to Bryce Carver to give the Grizzlies a 21-14 lead.
The Grizzlies sacked WSU quarterback Mike Hoke on the next Wildcat play and then scored on a 35-yard field goal to take a 10 point lead with under 4:00 to play.
Weber State didn’t quit and freshman Cordero Dixon returned the kickoff 100-yards for a touchdown. It was Dixon’s first ever kickoff return and he becomes the fifth Wildcat in school history to return a kick 100 yards. That cut the Montana lead to 24-21 with 3:41 to play but the Wildcats could not stop the Grizzlies on their final possession and Montana hung on for the victory.
“We did some good things and forced Montana to change their running game but their size got to us a little bit and they made some plays and we got a little worn down,” said WSU head coach Jody Sears. “I was proud of our kids and how they kept fighting and hanging in there. We kept playing and I was extremely proud of that. There is a lot of stuff to build on but at the end of the day we have some things we need to fix and keep improving.”
Montana finished the day with 436 yards of total offense, compared to 238 for Weber State. The Grizzlies rushed for 205 yards on the ground. Montana also recorded four sacks and continues to lead the nation in sacks. They also forced three Wildcat fumbles.
Weber State junior defensive captain Anthony Morales had a career game, finishing with a career-high 23 tackles. He had eight solo tackles and 15 unassisted tackles along with two tackles for loss. The 23 tackles is the most by a Wildcat since 2001 and is tied for the sixth most tackles in a game in school history. Willie Okwuonu and Roman Valenzuela each recorded 10 tackles.
Hoke finished the day 16-24 passing for 136 yards and moved into ninth in school history in career passing yards. Xavian Johnson led the Wildcat receivers with three catches for 31 yards. Tuckett had 13 carries for 69 yards and one touchdown.
The win snaps a two-game losing streak for the Grizzlies in Ogden and moves Montana to 5-5 on the season and 3-4 in Big Sky play. The Wildcats fall to 1-8 on the year and 1-5 in conference games.
Weber State will close out the home season next Saturday when they host Northern Colorado at 1:30 p.m. at Stewart Stadium. The final game of the season will be Nov. 17 at Idaho State.