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NAU defense can't stand up to Grizzlies' running game
Montana's Colt Anderson (19) was named the Big Sky Conference's co-defensive player of the week along with Montana State's Kevin Retoriano.

Northern Arizona entered Saturday's battle against Montana with the best run defense in the Football Championship Subdivision, allowing just 18.8 yards per game.

It led Grizzlies coach Bobby Hauck to quip early last week that the Lumberjacks were "leading the free world" in that statistic.

Not anymore.

Montana ran over, around and through NAU's defense to the tune of 223 yards in a 45-10 rout.

Sophomore running back Chase Reynolds averaged nearly as many yards per carry (13.1) as the Lumberjacks were allowing per game.

Reynolds rushed 12 times for 157 yards and scored three touchdowns. Reynolds, consequently, was named the Big Sky Conference's offensive player of the week.

The impressive victory put the Grizzlies on the fast track to an at-large playoff bid.

However, Montana (8-1, 4-1 Big Sky) remains one game behind Weber State (8-2, 6-0) in the league standings and is in jeopardy of missing out on at least a share of the Big Sky championship for the first time since 1997.

The Big Sky Conference recognizes tied first-place teams as champions. If Weber State and Montana finish 7-1 in league play they would be co-champs, but Weber State would earn the automatic berth to the playoffs.

Weber State will clinch that automatic bid to the postseason with a victory on Saturday against Idaho State.

Honors all around

While Reynolds took home the offensive award, Montana safety Colt Anderson and Montana State safety Kevin Retoriano shared the defensive honor.

Anderson, a senior from Butte, had seven tackles, two pass breakups and two interceptions against NAU. Retoriano, a junior from San Diego, Calif., also had two interceptions, one of which he returned 64 yards for a touchdown to clinch the Bobcats' 20-7 win over Northern Colorado.

Retoriano also had a 46-yard interception return in the third quarter. He finished with five tackles and two pass breakups. One of his pass breakups came on the goal line on a fourth-down play.

Montana State punter/kicker Eric Fisher nabbed the Big Sky's special teams player of the week.

Fisher, a Billings West product, averaged 39.9 yards per yards on seven punts and pinned Northern Colorado inside its 20-yard line three separate times.

One of Fisher's punts was downed at the 5-yard line. MSU scored 10 points on its possessions following those deep pins.

Fisher now ranks seventh in the nation in net punting.

Poll position

Montana snuck back into the Top 5 in the latest Sports Network Top 25 poll, which was released Monday. The Grizzlies' win over NAU vaulted them one spot forward to No. 5.

Appalachian State's 70-24 Halloween Night destruction of No. 3 Wofford cleared some space in the Top 5.

Northern Arizona fell three spots to No. 22 while Weber State, with a 31-21 win over Portland State, advanced four spots to No. 9.

Elsewhere, Cal Poly moved up a spot to No. 3 while Appalachian State remained No. 2. James Madison kept its hold on the No. 1 ranking. Northern Iowa, meanwhile, moved up one spot to No. 4.

Wofford dropped seven spots to No. 10.

Around the league

Hauck became the sixth coach in league history to earn his 60th career victory. Hauck is now 60-15 in six seasons at Montana. … Montana State linebacker Bobby Daly had two tackles in the Bobcats' win over Northern Colorado. The two tackles gave him 365 in his career, and moved him into second place on the Big Sky's career total tackles list behind for Bobcats safety Kane Ioane. … Weber State running back Trevyn Smith and Sacramento State wide receiver Tony Washington eclipsed the 1,000-yard barrier last weekend. Smith rushed for 161 yards and two touchdowns, while Washington caught 10 passes for 114 yards and a touchdown in Sacramento State's 15-13 win over Eastern Washington. … Big Sky teams are averaging 269.7 passing yards per game, the most since the 2000 season. Portland State leads the nation in pass offense.

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