MISSOULA — For more than three quarters of the game Saturday, Cal Poly kept Montana’s normally potent offense out of the end zone — until crunch time.
Jordan Johnson followed up a 2-yard game-tying touchdown pass to Clay Pierson with 12 seconds left in the fourth quarter with a 23-yard scoring toss to Ellis Henderson on the first possession of overtime to give the Grizzlies a 21-14 win over Cal Poly.
Montana linebacker Brock Coyle sealed the victory for the Grizzlies with a goal line interception of a Dano Graves pass on the Mustangs overtime possession.
“We knew what they were going to do,” Coyle said. “I just dropped and saw the ball up in the air and went up and got it.”
Jordan Tripp set up the 15-play, 88-yard game-tying drive by blocking a 26-yard field goal attempt by Bobby Zalud with 2:17 left in the game.
“When they lined up for that field goal, what was really going through my mind was we’re going to block this, score and win in overtime,” Montana coach Mick Delaney said after the game.
The Grizzlies (6-1, 3-1 Big Sky Conference) opened the scoring on a 5-yard touchdown run by Jordan Canada with 5:38 to play in the first quarter.
Cal Poly (3-4, 2-1) took the lead on touchdown runs of 6 and 4 yards by Akaninyene Umoh to take a 14-7 halftime lead.me.
The Cal Poly defense kept Montana out of the end zone for nearly three quarters of the game, limiting the Grizzlies ground game to only 73 rushing yards on the day. Before their final scoring drive, the Grizzlies moved the ball deep into Cal Poly territory three times in the second half only to turn the ball over — twice on downs and once on a Johnson fumble at the Mustang 1-yard line that went for a touchback.
The Mustangs offense also kept the ball away from Montana, dominating the time of possession stats by holding the ball for more than 36 minutes of the game.
“Our guys executed our game plan really well,” Cal Poly coach Tim Walsh said. “We probably deserved a better fate.”
Delaney said he never doubted his team would mount a comeback, especially with his defense keeping Montana in the game.
“We just wanted to be in a position every week to have an opportunity to win,” Delaney said. “We didn’t run the football very well, but they are the best football team we have faced all year.”
Tripp said he just missed blocking a field goal attempt earlier in the game and was confident he could knock down the one late in the fourth quarter.
“They had a wing formation and I felt like I could jump it,” Tripp said. “Our defensive end and defensive tackle just flat collapsed it and I jumped over the top.”
Cal Poly running back Kristaan Ivory led all rushers with 121 yards on 22 carries. Graves added 91 yards on the ground and completed 13-of-18 passes for 95 yards.
Johnson threw for 242 yards, completing 22-of-39 pass attempts. Canada led Grizzly runners with 56 yards on 23 carries. Matt Hermanson paced the Montana defense with 18 tackles while John Kanongata’a chipped in with 16 tackles.
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