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Montana crush Sacramento State on John Nguyen 116 yards rushing and 81 yard touchdown run

After a serving of scoring last week that Montana had surpassed just once since 2002, expecting a larger helping Saturday felt a bit greedy.

But dish up some leftovers. The Grizzlies went back for seconds.

No. 10 Montana throttled Sacramento State 68-7 in front of Washington-Grizzly Stadium’s packed house of 25,351 fans, giving the Griz back-to-back 60-point outings for the first time in program history. UM also dismantled Mississippi Valley State 67-7 a week ago.

Saturday’s blowout came with a side of 655 yards of total offense — Montana’s best output this century — to give the Griz a pair of 600-yard performances this month.

John Nguyen ran for 116 yards on just 7 carries with an 81-yard touchdown run.  Nguyen also caught 2 passes for 14 yards.

“We’re playing at a very high level, but every week you’re trying to out-do the week before,” said head coach Bob Stitt, whose team improved to 5-1 overall and 2-1 in Big Sky Conference games with its third straight victory. “It’s not about trying to get so many points or so many yards — passing, rushing whatever — you’re just trying to go out and execute better than you did the week before.

“… You’d like to get used to this. You’d like to go into every game and feel like the week before when you scored 60.”

The Griz last produced so many points in a 70-24 manhandling of Idaho Sate in 2012.

Offensive excellence has become par for the course for the Griz, who notched their fourth straight 40-point outing Saturday and posted a stretch of 128 unanswered points dating back to last week’s contest. The onslaught started early against the Hornets (1-6, 1-3), too.

After misfiring on its first possession, one of just two UM drives to end in punts, Montana scored on its next seven.

Jeremy Calhoun played the star on three of the first four. He cut through Sac’s league-worst rushing defense for a 32-yard score halfway through the opening quarter, then scored on a 23-yard dash after an awful Hornet punt set the Griz up with great field position. Two drives later he scored his first career receiving touchdown.

Calhoun is up to 10 TDs this season, nine of them rushing to match his total from last year’s freshman campaign.


Brady Gustafson threw for four scores to up his season total to 18 as the Grizzlies’ senior quarterback continued his torrid mid-season tear. With a 28-of-35 passing performance that included 246 yards, Gustafson tallied his third game in four weeks with a completion percentage within a fraction of a point of 80 or better.

“The quarterback makes the whole thing go,” Sacramento State head coach Jody Sears said. “That offense is well-oiled and when you’ve got a quarterback that understands and can read coverages, read safety rotations and know where to go with the ball, you’ve got a pretty seasoned outfit that’s gonna be successful.”

When given time, Gustafson sorted through the options the Hornets’ defense allotted and picked apart the opposition. On his third TD — after a 5-yard strike to Keenan Curran and the 10-yard toss to Calhoun — Gustafson used misdirection and a full view of the field to hook up with H-back receiver and Missoula Big Sky product Colin Bingham for a second time in as many weeks.

Following a Sac State fumble on a kick return foolishly advanced from deep in the end zone, Gustafson faked a hand off to his running back on the ensuing play from the Hornets’ 26-yard line. He faked a second time to receiver James Homan, who was mimicking a reverse with motion from right to left that brought the defense rushing forward. With ample time, Gustafson tossed to the left sideline to a wide-open Bingham for an easy score.

“You’re seeing a different group having more success each week and it just depends on what the defense is trying to take away,” said Stitt of the Hornets keying on Z receivers like Homan on Saturday. “That’s a tribute to Brady. Hey, we’re not going to keep feeding it to the Z when the H is there.”

John Nguyen sent the first-stringers to the bench for good on Montana’s first play of the third quarter, a school-record 81-yard rushing TD that increased UM’s lead to 47-0. On came the rotation of backup quarterbacks Chad Chalich and Reese Phillips.

Chalich amplified the Grizzlies’ statistical explosion with 172 passing yards on 10 completions in 12 attempts, including scoring throws of 4 yards to Caleb Lyons and 60 to Joey Counts. Safety Justin Strong added a 78-yard interception return for a TD as well before Sac finally broke the shutout with under 5 minutes to play on a 36-yard Quincy Jountti run.

The Griz out-gained Sac by 300 yards Saturday and 169 to 46 in the fourth quarter to get to their total of 655. That bypassed the 627 gained against Southern Utah two weeks ago on homecoming.

It’s the most since Montana’s program-record 717 during an 81-22 flaying of Weber State in 1999.

Perhaps Montana can give that number a run at some point this year with some ragged defenses still on the schedule. For now the Griz are moving on to next Saturday’s showdown on the road with Northern Arizona (3-4, 2-2), what linebacker Josh Buss called the biggest game of the year.

“Why?” Buss, who collected 4.5 tackles for loss against Sac State, asked rhetorically. “Because it’s the next one, ya know?”

Source: Montana football: Griz crush Hornets in 2nd straight 60-point outing | University of Montana Grizzlies |