MISSOULA (AP) – Lex Hilliard was efficient, Cole Bergquist was perfect and 73 Griz players saw action in Montana’s 49-0 shutout of Division II Fort Lewis Saturday.
Hilliard, who missed last season after rupturing his Achilles tendon, rushed for three first-quarter touchdowns while Bergquist completed all 13 of his passes for 163 yards and a touchdown and ran for another score in the lopsided win.
Hilliard’s first score was a 54-yard touchdown run on Montana’s first play from scrimmage, less than two minutes into the game.
Marc Mariani returned the Skyhawks’ first punt to the Fort Lewis 49, but a false start put the Griz at 1st and 15 from their own 46. Bergquist handed off to Hilliard, who found a big opening.
“The first touch was amazing,” Hilliard said. “The offensive line did a great job and opened up a hole that I could have drove my truck through.”
Bergquist was excited about the early strike.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re playing Hellgate High School, if you score on the first play, it’s awesome,” he said.
Hilliard scored twice more, with a 5-yard TD run with 9:55 left in the first quarter and a 2-yard run to give Montana a 21-0 lead with 1:57 left in the first quarter. He had six carries for 72 yards in the first quarter and finished with 14 carries for 86 yards.
Montana (2-0), ranked third in the Sports Network FCS poll, had 512 yards in total offense to just 136 for Fort Lewis (0-1) of the Rocky Mountain Conference.
Four Montana running backs scored.
“It just shows what kind of depth we have on the offensive line and at running back,” Hilliard said. “Any one guy can step up and carry the team.”
Greg Coleman, who rushed for 35 yards, scored on a 9-yard run midway through the second quarter. Ryan Bagley, who had three catches for 59 yards, caught a 15-yard touchdown pass from Bergquist just before halftime to put the Grizzlies up 35-0.
“In the first half they came out and beat the hell out of us,” said Fort Lewis coach Ed Rifilato. “In the second half we came out and played better.”
Montana added a 6-yard TD run by Reggie Bradshaw with 2:38 left in the third and a 21-yard TD run by Thomas Brooks-Fletcher early in the fourth.
It was Montana’s second shutout of Fort Lewis, which fell 55-0 in Missoula in 2005.
“They are 100 times better than in 2005,” Rifilato said. “That team was nothing compared to this team. They are so deep they can just keep rotating people in and out.”
Hauck said he was pleased with his team’s discipline.
“When you play everyone, it’s nice to see everyone tuned in,” he said. “I don’t know how many we dressed, but I think everyone played.”
Bergquist said the Grizzlies kept their focus.
“With teams like this that are such an underdog, it’s easy to let up and let them score some cheap touchdowns, but we didn’t do that today,” he said.
Tom Stoffel completed 6 of 11 passes for 26 yards for Fort Lewis, while Dave Nieman was 5-of-7 for 27 yards. Joel Johnson had 13 carries for 50 yards and Vic Amick caught six passes for 19 yards. Fort Lewis had seven first downs to 29 for UM.
“It was our first game,” Rifilato said. “We played a lot of guys today and got to see what we have.”
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