#5 Griz host #2 UNI Panthers in FCS quarterfinal playoff game
Dec. 6, 2011
THE GAME: The fifth-ranked/fourth-seed University of Montana Grizzlies (10-2) host the second-ranked/fifth-seed University of Northern Iowa Panthers (10-2) Friday, Dec. 9, in a NCAA Football Championship Subdivision quarterfinal playoff game, with kickoff at 6:05 p.m. (Mountain) in UM's Washington-Grizzly Stadium/John Hoyt Field (25,217) on ESPN.
GRIZ RADIO: Veteran Mick Holien calls the play-by-play for his 19th season in a row in 2011. Former Griz receiver Scott Gurnsey and Greg Sundberg provide in-booth color. The 2011 Grizzly Football Radio Network is listed on add 6-6-6 of the weekly release.
TV: The game is available on ESPN with, Justin Kutcher calling the play-by-play and Tom Lugenbill providing in-booth color commentary.
Radio Streaming: GoGriz.com.
Live Stats: NCAA.com.
MONTANA'S 21st TRIP TO THE PLAYOFFS/50TH GAME: This is Montana's 21st appearance in the FCS/Div. I-AA playoffs, and the Grizzlies will be playing in their 50th playoff game. It is Montana's 18th berth in the playoffs in the last 19 seasons. The Griz have a 31-18 record in the playoffs, and are 28-6 at home; 2-8 on the road, and 1-4 at neutral sites.
HOME COOKIN': The Griz are 18-1 in the playoffs at home in December. The sole setback was 19-17 to Massachusetts in 2006 on December 8 in a FCS semifinal game.
QUARTERFINAL FCS GAMES (All Times Mountain): Friday, Dec. 9: Northern Iowa (10-2) at Montana, 6:00 p.m. on ESPN. Saturday, Dec. 10: Montana State (10-2) at Sam Houston State (12-0), 10:00 a.m. on ESPN2; Maine (9-3) at Georgia Southern (10-2), Noon on ESPN3; Lehigh (11-1) at North Dakota St. (11-1), 2:00 p.m. on ESPN3.
NEXT?: If the Griz win this Friday they will play the winner of the Montana State at Sam Houston State game in the semifinals, on either Dec. 16th or 17th. The site depends on the winner.
LAST GAME: At Montana 41, Central Arkansas 14: Senior receiver Jabin Sambrano caught two touchdown passes from sophomore quarterback Jordan Johnson; redshirt freshman Jordan Canada rushed for two scores, and junior halfback Peter Nguyen also rushed for a score.
HEAVY ON THE DEFENSE & GROUND GAME: The defense held UCA to 290 total yards and 13 first downs. The Bears were 2-of-10 on third down conversions, and rushed for 25 net yards. Montana recovered three of UCA's five fumbles, and had one pick. Sophomore linebacker John Kanongata'a led the Griz with 9 tackles. Safety Matt Hermanson had 6 tackles, two forced fumbles, a fumble recovery, and a TFL. Montana rushed 58 times for 229 yards and three touchdowns and had 27 first downs. Montana also had a huge edge in time of possession: 38:43 to 21:17.
MCKNIGHT EXTENDS CONSECUTIVE FG RECORD: With his two field goals versus UCA, McKnight has now made 16 in a row - a school record. Old record: 13, Dan Carpenter, 2005.
MCSURDY BIG SKY'S POY: Griz senior linebacker Brian McSurdy, who leads the Griz with 117 tackles, was named the Big Sky's "Defensive Player of the Year." He is the Grizzlies' defensive captain this season. (Montana's 2011 Big Sky selections are on add 12 of the weekly release).
COACH PFLUGRAD RECEIVES HONORS: Montana head football coach Robin Pflugrad was chosen by his fellow league coaches as the 2011 Big Sky Conference Coach of the Year. He is also one of 20 finalists for the 25th Eddie Robinson Award, which honors the FCS's national coach of the year.
BIG SKY CHAMPS: Montana's 36-10 victory at Montana State on Nov. 19 gave the Grizzlies the Big Sky Conference's regular-season championship and an automatic berth into the FCS playoffs.
26 WINNING SEASONS IN A ROW: UM's victory at Northern Arizona on Oct. 22 was its sixth of the year -- giving the Grizzlies their 26th winning season (since 1986) in a row.
PANTHER'S LAST GAME (At UNI 28, Wofford 21): UNI was out-gained 478 to 238 in total yards rushing, but recovered three fumbles in the win. Wofford rushed 73 times for 457 yards. Senior QB Tirrell Rennie rushed for 95 yards and passed for 67 yards and two TDs to lead UNI.
ABOUT THE PANTHERS: UNI was co-champion of the Missouri Valley Football Conference with top-ranked North Dakota State, both with 7-1 league marks. UNI lost 27-19 at NDS on Oct. 29. UNI's other setback was a 20-19 opening season loss at Iowa State. UNI senior linebacker L.J. Fort leads the FCS with 13.92 tackles a game, while Rennie is 53rd in rushing (75.82 ypg). Mark Farley (UNI, 1987) is 99-39 in his 11th year at his alma mater. This is UNI's 16th FCS playoff appearance and Farley's seventh.
THE SERIES: Montana leads 4-0. The teams have met twice in Missoula in the playoffs, with a 23-20 first-round Griz win in 1994 and a 38-0 home UM victory in a 2001 semifinal game. UM also won 42-21 in Missoula in 1981 and 33-16 at UNI in 1987.
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