Sophomore QB Jordan Johnson
Oct. 29, 2011
University of Montana sophomore quarterback Jordan Johnson tied a school record with six touchdown passes and senior wider receiver Jabin Sambranotied a school mark with four scoring grabs, as the Grizzlies rolled to a key 45-10 Big Sky Conference victory over the Weber State Wildcats in UM's Washington-Grizzly Stadium.
The convincing win improved the Grizzlies record to 7-2 overall and 6-1 in Big Sky play, while the Wildcats are now 3-5/3-2. The Washington-Grizzly crowd of 25,401, the 16th largest in 189 games played there.
It was an excellent all-around offensive and defensive effort by the Grizzlies, who have had to come from behind in a pair recent wins over Northern Arizona (28-24) and Portland State (30-24). Montana has now won five games in a row.
Montana rolled to 545 yards of total offense and 29 first downs, and held Weber State to 290 yards and 19 first downs (six of them coming on the Wildcats' last drive).
The Wildcats had an impressive opening drive and went 73 yards on 11 plays en route to a 34-yard field goal by sophomore kicker Shaun McClain, taking a 3-0 lead with 9:13 to go in the first quarter.
The Griz went three-and-out on their first series, but then scored on their next two possessions, and took a 14-3 first-quarter lead when true freshman Josh Dennardscored his first career touchdown on an 18-yard pass from Johnson. Dennard's scoring grab was set up on three consecutive completions to Sambrano covering 33 yards and moved the ball to the WSU 18-yard line.
Montana took a 7-3 lead with 7:34 left in the opening period on a 31-yard screen pass from Johnson to junior halfback Peter Nguyen, and the Griz led the rest of the way.
The Grizzlies dominated the second quarter, out-gaining the Wildcats 252 to 35 in total yards, and jumped to a 38-3 halftime lead. UM had 13 more first downs (15 to 2) than WSU in the second quarter.
It was the Johnson to Sambrano combination that put the game away early for the Grizzlies, as they hooked up for three straight touchdowns, covering 11, 17, and 8 yards, the third one giving them a commanding 35-3 lead with 3:36 to go until intermission.
Montana's final score in the first half was a 41-yard field goal by senior kicker Brody McKnight. That three-pointer by McKnight was the 49th in his career, moving him to third all-time, and breaking a tie with Kirk Duce (48, 1989-91).
Montana went to its running game in the second half and picked up 196 yards on 22 carries, and was 6-of-8 passing for 60 yards in the final 30 minutes. The Grizzlies tacked on one more score with the fourth Johnson-to-Sambrano touchdown pass, this one good from 25 yards out, giving UM a 45-3 advantage with 11:28 left in the third quarter.
WSU scored its only touchdown of the game with 42 seconds remaining on a 3-yard run junior halfback C.J. Tuckett. That final score by the Wildcats was aided by three Montana penalties - two pass interference calls and a defensive off-sides call.
Johnson completed 23-of-32-0 passes for a career-high 299 yards en route to his record-tying six touchdown passes. He tied Brian Ah Yat (6 TD passes at Stephen F. Austin, 1998) and Dave Dickenson's (6 TDs throws versus Boise State, 1995) with his six scoring throws. He also rushed eight times for 53 yards to finish with 352 yards of total offense.
Sambrano's four scoring grabs tied him with four other players: Marc Mariani versus Southern Utah, 2008; Joe Douglass at Eastern Washington in 1996; Marvin Turk at Idaho in 1991; and Mike Rice against Idaho State in 1986.
Nguyen had career and game-highs of 15 carries for 85 yards. Junior halfback Beau Donaldson, who also plays linebacker and tight end, rushed nine times for 74 yards. Sambrano finished with 7 receptions for 94 yards and the four TDs, while junior tight end Greg Hardyhad 5 grabs for 36 yards.
WSU was without injured starting quarterback Mike Hoke. His replacement, sophomore Jordan Adamczyk was 18-of-40-2 for 196 yards and was sacked just once, but was forced out of the pocket throughout the game.
The Grizzlies have their final home game next Saturday, Nov. 5, hosting Western Oregon on "Senior Day." WSU hosts Montana State next Saturday. Montana is at MSU in its regular-season finale on Nov. 19th.
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