Smithwick-Hann, Montana Roll Panhandle State

By Beacon Staff

MISSOULA — Backup quarterback Shay Smithwick-Hann threw two touchdown passes Saturday and Montana’s reserves saw plenty of playing time as the Grizzlies downed Oklahoma Panhandle State, 47-14.

“Our goal going in was to try to take care of business with our ones and a sprinkling of twos in the first quarter and then give everybody else the opportunity to play,” said Montana coach Mick Delaney, whose team played 63 different players in the game.

The Grizzlies scored on seven of their first eight possessions to improve to 3-0 on the season. The Division II Aggies fell to 1-3.

Montana starting quarterback Jordan Johnson gave way to Smithwick-Hann late in the first quarter after staking the Grizzlies to a 17-0 lead. Johnson attempted only six passes on the day, one of them a 17-yard scoring strike to Ellis Henderson less than a minute into the game.

Travon Van, on a 2-yard touchdown run, and Ben Worst, with a 50-yard field goal, also scored with Johnson at the helm

Smithwick-Hann entered the game and threw touchdown passes of 16 yards to Jordan Harper and 9 yards to Taylor Walcott to put Montana up 31-0 at the end of the first quarter.

Joey Counts scored on a 5-yard run put Montana up 38-0 with 14:02 to play in the half.

“Shay went in there today, played well and engineered two touchdown drives right off the bat,” Delaney said.

The Aggies got on the board with 7:56 to play in the opening period on a 5-yard pass from Caleb Holbrook to Tim Hollingshead. Panhandle State cut the Montana lead to 38-14 with 1:36 to go in the half on a 1-yard run by Kameron Young.

“This game was kind of like going to Vegas,” said Aggies coach Russell Gaskamp. “The chances of us winning the football game weren’t very good. But we were going to spend our money smart.”

The second half belonged to the Grizzly reserves as Montana cleared the bench and tacked on nine more third quarter points on two 41-yard field goals by Ben Worst and a 21-yard field goal by Harrison Greenberg.

“I’ve got to give kudos to our juniors and seniors for staying focused all week and taking care of business right off the bat,” Delaney said. “And kudos to our young guys for going in and playing well.”

John Nguyen lead all rushers with 145 yards on 22 carries. Montana quarterbacks threw the ball a total of only 19 times on the day.

Holbrook completed 8-of-18 passes for 50 yards for the Aggies, while Chris McClendon ran the ball 14 times for 57 yards.

Delaney said he would rather play higher level teams than teams from a lower division of football.

“I would rather play Washington State or Washington or Oregon State or a team like that,” he said. “But once the game is scheduled, you just go out there and do your best.”

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