MISSOULA – Eli Gillman rushed for 119 yards and a touchdown and Montana clamped down on Butler to pull out a 35-20 win to open the season on Saturday.
Gillman’s 24 yard run capped a three-play, 50-yard drive to spark the Grizzlies after the Bulldogs had scored twice in the third quarter to pull within 21-20.
Bret Bushka tried to go deep on the next Butler snap but was picked off by Gradney Trevin. The Grizzlies didn’t cash in but after giving up the ball on downs at the Bulldogs’ 10, the defense made a stop. Following a punt, the Grizzlies put together a nine-play, 63-yard drive and took a two touchdown lead on Clinton McDowell’s 1-yard run with 6:34 left.
A 54-yard strike from Sam Vidlak to Junior Bergen had Montana on top one minute into the game. Then both teams had a pair of field goals before an unusual drive gave Montana a 21-6 lead at halftime. Bergen had a 42-yard touchdown reception called back by a holding penalty and Aaron Fontes had a 29-yard scoring run nullified by holding. Finally Xavier Harris scored on a three-yard run.
Bushka had a 32-yard touchdown pass to Jyran Mitchell and a 26-yarder to Ryan Lezon to rally Butler.
Montana had 441 yards on offense as Vidlak was 15 of 25 for 180 yards.
Bushka was 25 of 35 for 253 yards.
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