Wofford Ends Montana’s Season

By Beacon Staff

MISSOULA (AP) – Wofford just had too many options, and Montana’s final chance sailed left.

Michael Hobbs scored on a 6-yard run with 32 seconds remaining Saturday to lift Wofford to a 23-22 upset of previously unbeaten Montana in the first round of the FCS playoffs.

Third-seed Montana (11-1) had a chance to win the game on a 47-yard field goal with four seconds remaining, but Dan Carpenter’s kick pulled left.

“Their kicker is the best we’ve seen,” said Wofford coach Mike Ayers. “He was one of those guys I felt, quite frankly, has ice water in his veins. To say that I was hoping that he missed, it was an understatement.”

Wofford (9-3) will face Richmond at home next week in the second round.

Wofford trailed 22-17 with six minutes remaining after Lex Hilliard, who rushed for 119 yards, scored on a 1-yard run for Montana.

The Terriers, who rushed for 333 yards, drove the field for Hobbs’ game-winning score.

“It’s just a tough offense to defend,” said Montana defensive tackle Kelly Kain. “There’s guys going everywhere.”

Montana struggled against Wofford’s triple option as Kevious Johnson rushed for 145 yards, while Hobbs had 67, Dane Romero 57 and quarterback Josh Collier 54.

“We felt coming in we’d have an advantage because it’s an odd-ball offense,” Ayers said. “Over the years, being a little bit odd ball has helped us.

Hauck said: “We didn’t do a particularly good job stopping their option.”

Romero scored the first touchdown of the game on a 3-yard run that gave Wofford a 10-3 lead with 10:07 left in the second quarter.

Montana answered with a 25-yard field goal by Carpenter, who had made a 37-yarder early in the second quarter.

Hilliard rushed for 42 yards in Montana’s final drive of the first half, which was capped by a 9-yard touchdown pass from Cole Bergquist to Dan Beaudin to give Montana a 13-10 lead with 24 seconds left.

“It was positive yardage on every play in that drive,” Hauck said.

Hilliard rushed for 47 yards on Montana’s first scoring drive of the second half. The Grizzlies advanced to the Wofford 1, but had to settle for a 24-yard field goal by Carpenter and a 16-10 lead with 12:59 remaining.

“We had to kick a couple field goals,” said Bergquist, who passed for 211 yards. “If we could have punched it in, it could have been the difference in the game.”

Collier, who passed for 53 yards after throwing two interceptions, hit Andy Strickland on a 6-yard scoring pass midway through the fourth quarter to give Wofford a 17-16 lead. The drive included Collier’s first completed pass, a 36-yarder to Strickland.

“They were stuffing our runs,” Strickland said. “We knew we had to make a big play.”

Montana’s two-point conversion attempt failed after Hilliard’s score and Wofford was unable to convert after Hobbs’ final score, leaving the door open for the Grizzlies.

Marc Mariani returned the kickoff to midfield. After two incomplete passes, Bergquist connected with Eric Allen on a 9-yard pass and then threw an 11-yard pass to Mariani, advancing the ball to the Wofford 30 with four seconds left.

“I knew we needed to get a couple completions to get into Carp’s range,” Bergquist said. “I was pretty confident.”

The Grizzlies set up for the field goal.

“The snap was good, the hold was good,” Hauck said. “He just pulled it a little bit left.”

After the missed field goal, Carpenter squatted down on the field, his head in his hands. Teammates surrounded Carpenter, who had made 19 of 23 field goals this season, including a game-winner against Eastern Washington.

Carpenter finishes his career as the FCS career scoring leader among kickers with 417 points, and as the FCS career field goal leader with 75.

“All we really said to him was to remind him how good he his, how many kicks he’s made,” Bergquist said.

Jason Leventis led Wofford with 14 tackles while Colt Anderson and Tyler Joyce each had 10 for Montana. Anderson also had an interception and a forced fumble.

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