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Griz vs Sac State Notebook

Montana quarterback Dalton Sneed dives over a pylon for a touchdown as Sac State's Mister Harriel defends on Saturday at Washington-Grizzly Stadium.

MISSOULA — The Grizzly offense lined up on first-and-10 at its own 25-yard line with five minutes remaining in the first quarter. 

Quarterback Dalton Sneed took the snap and looked to pitch the ball back to senior wide receiver Keenan Curran. 

But he didn't. 

Sneed kept the ball to himself, faking out the Sacramento State defense, and floored it for 75 yards to run into the end zone untouched.

That was no ordinary play. It was a brand new installation to Montana's offense, inputted into the playbook just this week. 

"That read quick pitch quarterback play, (offensive coordinator Timm Rosenbach) Rosey invented that right here in Missoula, Montana, this week," Montana coach Bobby Hauck said after the game. "It was big for us. How many yards were on that one?"

Sneed replied with a smile, "A few."

Hauck bantered back: "120?"

Sneed replied: "Just on that play alone."

The Montana offense ran the play at least twice, with Sneed scoring on it twice. 

"We had to practice it a little bit but (Rosenbach) said, 'Hey. This play's going to hit in the game.' He's a great coach. I trust him," Sneed said.

"... Sure enough, the first play we ran it in went for 75 yards."

Sneed's 38-yard touchdown to start the third quarter was also a designed fake pitch.

Hauck enjoyed how much the play worked.

"That was good. That was a good play for us," Hauck said. "We gave them a few wrinkles they had not seen and it was successful. If we rush for that number of yards, it's going to be hard to beat us."

Hauck added that he first saw the play on Wednesday.

Montana's rushers — Sneed, wide receiver Gabe Sulser and running backs Adam Eastwood and Jeremy Calhoun — combined for 351 yards on the ground.

Montana hasn't rushed for more the 350 yards since 2013, when Travon Van had 136 yards rushing, Jordan Canada had 102, Joey Counts added 79, Jordan Johnson had 32, Ellis Henderson chipped in 24, John Nguyen added 4 and Marlon Miles had 2 yards against Portland State.

Sneed's 206 rushing yards were the most by a Grizzly offensive player since Canada racked up 211 yards in 2014 against Southern Utah.

"It was just a lack of execution for us. I know that," Sacramento State coach Jody Sears said of UM's run game. "That's something that obviously Rosey (UM OC Timm Rosenbach) had in the game plan. We hadn't seen a lot of that. But we get to see a running quarterback every day so it's not a novelty to us."

SULSER SHINES

True freshman wide receiver Gabe Sulser played last week on the road against Western Illinois, but Sneed didn't target him or look to hand the ball off. 

His first touch was well worth the wait. 

On first-and-10 at the Montana 47-yard line, Sulser motioned in the back field, running toward the Griz sideline. Sneed faked a handoff to Eastwood, and then turned around and handed the ball to Sulser. 

The Sacramento State defense bought it and Sulser darted around the corner and up the UM sideline untouched for a 53-yard score. 

Sulser, the defending Class AA 110-meter hurdles champion, leaned over the goal line like he was back on the track and then exploded in celebration with senior wide receiver Keenan Curran and sophomore wideout Samori Toure to put Montana on the board first. 

"It's pretty cool every time you touch the ball you score. That's neat. Expect that next week, we'll give it to him five times," Hauck said with a laugh.

On a more serious note, Hauck said, "But, Gabe's a kid that's got some explosive ability. It showed, obviously, on that play. When you give him that much space, he's got a chance to finish in the end zone and he did. I'm proud of him for not dropping it on the 5-yard line getting excited. He did a nice job. There will be a lot more of those I think before he's done here."

Sneed expected speed from Sulser.

Back on the first day of preseason camp, Sneed said he thought Sulser would "make a big impact" for Montana.

"I saw someone who was really fast," Sneed said of Sulser's touchdown. "The coaches, they recruited him because he's very explosive. We wanted to get him the ball out in space — try to do that with everybody — and he made a great play there, coming around the end and turning it on."

Sulser's 53-yard touchdown was his lone touch of the day.

SUPER DAVE

In between the first and second quarters, Griz legend Dave Dickenson raced onto the field and looked up at 20,000 fans standing and cheering for him. 

The National Football Foundation recognizes all upcoming College Football Hall of Fame inductees with an On Campus Salute game and Sept. 22 marked Dickenson's. 

The crowd was so loud, it was difficult to hear the PA announcer. 

As Dickenson was awarded his Hall of Fame plaque, fireworks went off behind him. 

Dickenson took in the moment immediately after, raising the plaque above his head as a nod to the thousands of cheering fans.

"If you don't get back, sometimes you lose track of where you were," Dickenson said on Friday. "It's important to figure out where you've been to figure out where you're going.

"... Montana has been behind me all the way. Hopefully I've done a nice job."

UP NEXT

Montana (3-1) hits the road to play at Cal Poly (1-4) in its first conference road game of the season. Kickoff at Alex G. Spanos Stadium is slated for 4 p.m. PT/ 5 p.m. MT.

Sacramento State (2-2) heads into a bye week before playing Cal Poly on Oct. 6.

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Amie Just covers Griz football and Missoula-area preps. Follow her on Twitter @Amie_Just or email her at Amie.Just@406mtsports.com.

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