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Montana runs over PSU 55-27, drops Vikings to 0-2 in Big Sky

MISSOULA, Mont. — This was supposed to be the year, like it is almost every time Portland State goes to Montana, that the Vikings would break the jinx, snap the curse and win a football game at Washington-Grizzly Stadium.

Instead, it was more of the same. Montana stomped the Viks 55-27 Saturday afternoon.

The Griz are 9-0 all-time in Big Sky games at home versus PSU, and the Vikings have lost 10 in a row at Montana.

Montana took advantage of four Viking turnovers, piled up 581 yards of offense, including 378 yars in the ground, and never trailed.

Grizzlies quarterback Jordan Johnson, from Sheldon High, passed for four touchdowns, and two UM backs, Travon Van and Jordan Canada, finished over the 100-yard rushing mark, scoring one TD each.

Both teams were looking to avoid their second conference loss. The Grizzlies had opened conference play last week with a road defeat to Northern Arizona, while the Vikings fell at home to Cal Poly.

The loss puts Portland State (3-3 overall) almost out of the conference title race and postseason potential.

Montana is 1-1 in the Big Sky and 4-1 overall.

NEXT WEEK

• Portland State will face a must-win scenario when it plays at Southern Utah, 1 p.m. PT Saturday, Oct. 12.

Southern Utah fell to 1-1 in the Big Sky with a 21-3 home loss to UC Davis, a team that lost at home to PSU 41-10 on Sept. 21.

Also next Saturday, Montana visits UC Davis, Eastern Washington visits North Dakota, Northern Arizona is at Sacramento State, Weber State goes to Cal Poly, and Northern Colorado plays at Idaho State.

OTHER BIG SKY GAMES

• Montana State improved to 2-0 in the conference and 4-2 overall with a 36-7 home victory over NAU (3-2, 1-1).

• UC Davis (2-4, 2-0) got 199 yards rushing (175 on 33 carries by Gabe Manzanares) and 193 yard passing in its 21-3 road win over Southern Utah.

• North Dakota (2-3, 1-1) downed Idaho State (2-3, 0-2) at Pocatello.

• In a nonleague game, Cal Poly fell 24-10 at home to Yale. The Bulldogs improved to 3-0, while Cal Poly (1-1 in the Big Sky) dropped to 2-3.

PSU-MONTANA RECAP

FIRST QUARTER

• Montana took a 7-0 lead 2:38 into Saturday's game, taking advantage of an interception of starting QB Kieran McDonagh. On the next play, Johnson hit an open tight end, Clay Pierson, for an easy 36-yard touchdown.

• PSU answered on its next possession, moving the ball into Griz territory and then scoring on some trickery. The ball got tossed around a copy of times in the backfield on a fake reverse before it wound up back in the hands of McDonagh, who found running back Shaquille Richard behind the defense and threw to him for an easy 32-yard TD. But the two-point conversion pass failed, after a bobbled snap, leaving Montana on top 7-6.

• The Grizzlies responded with a TD drive of 75 yards. The capper was Travon Van's 42-yard TD burst up the middle, and the PAT gave Montana a 14-6 advantage.

• Then came an even wilder sequence. Two penalties on the kickoff return put PSU on its 3-yard line to start its possession. After two plays went nowhere, the Grizzlies tackled McDonagh in the end zone — and as he was going down, the ball came out, and Montana's Jordan Tripp recovered for a touchdown. The kick boosted the Griz lead to 21-6 with 7:18 left in the first quarter.

• Backup PSU quarterback Paris Penn from Grant High replaced McDonagh on the next series. He picked up a first down with a short run on the option, then scrambled on third-and-6 for another. A little later, Penn lobbed his first TD pass, a 22-yarder to an open WR Alex Toureen. PSU closed to within 21-13 with the PAT.

Score: Montana 21, Portland State 13

SECOND QUARTER

• PSU's defense continued to have problems, as Johnson found a receiver, Cam Warren, all alone in the end zone from 17 yards. The kick made the score Montana 28, PSU 13 with 14:01 left in the half.

• McDonagh came back at QB as the Vikings returned to the air, but PSU was forced to punt.

Montana then padded its lead with an eight-play, 81-yard drive. Jordan Canada ran in the touchdown from 2 yards at the 8:16 mark, and the Griz were in front 35-13.

• The Vikings went from their 18 to the Montana 3, then faced fourth down. McDonagh's pass went one way in the end zone, while the receiver went another way, and Montana got the ball back via the incompletion.

• But PSU was able to produce a nine-play, 60-yard TD drive, and pulled to within 35-20 on McDonagh's 12-yard toss to wideout Victor Dean with 1:31 remaining in the quarter.

• Montana had a 44-yard field goal blocked by Dean with seven seconds left.

Score: Montana 35, Portland State 20

THIRD QUARTER

• The second half started almost identically — and poorly — for Portland State. McDonagh was intercepted at the PSU 45 on the Vikings' opening play — and Montana scored in three plays, with Johnson passing to Pierson, who was left uncovered on a 25-yard TD catch. Just like that, the Grizzlies had a 42-20 lead.

• The Griz tacked on a 25-yard field goal by Ben Worst at 7:28 for a 45-20 edge.

• Montana's defense held PSU on the 1-yard line to thwart the Vikings on a drive that started on their 20.

Score: Montana 45, Portland State 20

FOURTH QUARTER

• Montana scored 1:37 into the quarter on a 10-yard pass from Johnston to Pierson.

That left the Vikings in a 52-20 hole.

• Worst booted a 45-yard field goal at 9:02, and the Grizzlies led 55-20.

• Dean put PSU on the board for the first time in the half, turning a pass from third-string QB Collin Ramirez into a 71-yard touchdown play at the 8:36 mark.

Montana 55, Portland State 27

PSU-MONTANA KEY STATS

Portland State

Kieran McDonagh 18 of 32 passing, 266 yards, 2 TDs, 2 interceptions

Paris Penn 3 of 3, 34 yards, 1 TD, 0 ints

Collin Ramirez 3 of 6, 96 yards, 1 TD, 1 int

DJ Adams 18 carries, 79 yards, long gain of 17 yards

Penn 6 carries, 27 yards

Thomas Carter 7 catches, 95 yards

Kasey Closs 7 catches, 77 yards

Victor Dean 4 catches, 118 yards, 2 TD

Alex Toureen 2 catches, 52 yards, 1 TD

DJ Adams 2 catches, 13 yards

Shaquille Richard 1 catch, 32 yards, 1 TD

Montana

Jordan Johnson 12 of 24 passing, 203 yards, 4 TDs, 0 ints

Travon Van 14 carries, 136 yards, 1 TD

Jordan Canada 13 carries, 102 yards, 1 TD