MISSOULA – University of Montana football fans might look at Saturday’s Football Championship Subdivision quarterfinal matchup against Weber State as a chance to avenge the team’s only loss of the season.
Griz coach Bobby Hauck doesn’t see it that way.
“Revenge is a hollow motive,” Hauck said. “We both want to win, that’s your motive for playing.”
No. 5 Montana (12-1) hosts No. 10 Weber State (10-3) Saturday at noon at Washington Grizzly Stadium.
Montana advanced to the quarterfinals with a 31-13 win over Texas State while Weber State downed No. 4 Cal Poly 49-35, setting up a rematch of the teams that shared the Big Sky Conference title.
Montana has won eight straight games since a 45-28 loss in a driving rainstorm at Weber State on Oct. 4 ended the team’s 25-game winning streak.
“I don’t think that first game has anything to do with this game,” said Weber State coach Ron McBride. “We won that game. That game’s over with, a long time ago. Obviously, Montana has played great football since that game.”
The Griz had four turnovers — two fumbles and two interceptions — and Weber State had seven sacks in the October matchup.
“We’ve got to handle their pressure, especially zone pressure on first- and second-down situations,” Hauck said. “The sacks were caused by all kinds of things, pressure, coverage, guys falling down, holding onto the ball … I think we’ve improved in that regard.”
Chase Reynolds is averaging 93 yards rushing and has scored 17 touchdowns this season for Montana while Trevyn Smith leads the Big Sky with a 114-yard rushing average and 20 touchdowns. However, over the past six games, Reynolds has averaged 159 yards rushing and has scored 13 touchdowns.
Weber State quarterback Cameron Higgins leads the league with 323 yards passing and 36 touchdowns, including seven to Tim Toone, who averages 110 yards receiving.
Griz quarterback Cole Bergquist averages 203 yards passing and has 25 touchdowns, including 15 to Marc Mariani, who averages 81 yards receiving. Mariani, who injured his ankle in the Cat-Griz game, leads the league in punt return average at 18 yards per return. However, he didn’t return punts against Texas State. Weber’s Bryant Eteuati is second in the league at 12 yards per return.
The Wildcats had a record 12 players earn first team all-Big Sky Conference honors on offense and five on defense.
“We know what they are; they are a really good football team,” Hauck said. “They’ve got good players.
“We’re a little banged up and trying to fight our way onto the field. We’ve got a lot of things working against us, and that leads to a little more apprehension, I guess.”
The October loss stunned the Griz, who have lost just four games in the past three seasons.
“I think we’re used to winning,” Bergquist said. “And we went down there and got shocked, you know? That taste has still been in our mouths even though we’ve played plenty of games since then. It’d be great to have a win.”
Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup.
Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox.