MISSOULA -- Montana’s offense scored three touchdowns, including a 9-yard pass from Jordan Johnson to tight end Jordan Harper, but it was a night for defense Saturday at the Grizzlies’ annual spring football game.
Based on a modified scoring system that awarded points for offensive scoring, first downs, long passes, takeaways, tackles for loss and sacks, Montana’s defense came away with a 24-6 victory in the cold and wind at Washington-Grizzly Stadium.
“I think we accomplished some things, which is always a little difficult when you run into weather like this in the spring,” coach Mick Delaney said.
“The continuity on offense was not great, with guys in and out and guys hurt (running backs and offensive linemen), etc., etc. – but nothing serious. Hopefully the (injured) guys will be back next week. What I liked was the enthusiasm. I think that the defense tackled very well, and that was one of our goals for this spring.”
Johnson’s touchdown pass to Harper was the first score of the game. It was followed by a 21-yard touchdown throw from Billings West product Brady Gustafson to Billings Central product Ryan Burke, and a 39-yard TD run by John Nguyen.
But defensive linemen Zack Wagenmann and Zach Peevey each got safeties, linebackers Tucker Schye and Keenan Watt each had fumble recoveries, and cornerback Ryan McKinley made an interception.
Defensive tackle and Billings West product Nate Bradley tied for the team lead in tackles with Wagenmann, quarterback-turned-safety Trent McKinney, and linebacker Kendrick Van Ackeren.
Nguyen led the offense with 107 rushing yards on 16 carries. Jordan Canada was limited to six yards on seven carries.
Quarterbacks Johnson, Shay Smithwick-Hann, Gustafson and redshirt freshman Makena Simis went a combined 10 for 21 for just 81 yards, but were hampered by a wind that was gusting around 25 to 30 miles an hour.
Montana’s final scrimmage of the spring is schedule for Thursday, April 17.