There's no doubt Montana's 21-14 overtime victory over Cal Poly last week was an emotional one. The Griz snatched victory from what would have been a damaging defeat.
It wasn't until Jordan Tripp's blocked field goal late in the fourth quarter did they turn it around. After that, UM drove for a touchdown with 12 seconds left to force overtime (a Jordan Johnson-to-Clay-Pierson pass on fourth down), and then prevailed in the extra session with a game-ending interception by linebacker Brock Coyle.
On Tuesday, coach Mick Delaney marveled at his team's will to win:
“It was a situation where we just kept fighting and fighting and hanging in there. I think our guys just worked so hard and stuck together for so long that they felt something would happen. Tripp just willed his way to that football. And then the offense went the length of the field with very few mistakes. It was a tribute to all of them. Our guys are resilient. Every single one of them."
So how do you turn the page and focus on your biggest challenge of the season (No. 3 Eastern Washington) coming off such an emotional afternoon? Delaney said it won't be difficult:
“We don’t anticipate that being a problem at all. We know what a tremendous challenge this is. We have to use every second we have preparing for Eastern Washington. Last week is over and gone. This one looms very big for the remainder of the season.”
In Eastern Washington, Montana welcomes a team that has the look of the Big Sky's best team. The Eagles shocked FBS Oregon State in Week 1, and enter this week on a three-game winning streak. Sure, they stumbled at Sam Houston State earlier in the season (what Big Sky team hasn't lost to SHSU in the past three years?) and they are stronger for it.
The straw that stirs EWU's drink, obviously, is sophomore quarterback Vernon Adams. Adams is currently the top-rated quarterback in the FCS, and averages better than 350 yards of offense per game.
Adams is third in FCS in points responsible-for with an average of 23.4 per game (24 touchdown passes, three rushing TDs and a two-point conversion). He is second in the nation in touchdown passes, fourth in total offense (358.1) and seventh in passing yards (312.7 per game).
In the final analysis, defense won the game last week for 10th-ranked Montana. How will those guys hold up against one of the most dynamic players in the country?