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Southern Utah beats Montana 30-20

Southern Utah beats Montana 30-20



Estimated read time: 4-5 minutes

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MISSOULA, Mont. -- Colton Cook nailed a 38-yard field goal with 2:12 left in regulation, and Myles Crawford-Harris busted out for a 34-yard touchdown run after a crucial fourth down stop to lead the Southern Utah football team to a 30-20 victory over Montana Saturday afternoon in Missoula, Mont.

"I just got back from a very happy locker room," SUU Offensive Coordinator Steve Clark said, "I sat here four years ago and it seemed like an impossibility that we would ever be able to compete with a program like Montana."

The Thunderbirds (3-4) began its game-winning drive at its own 15-yard line with 7:55 left in regulation following a 42-yard game-tying field goal by Montana's Chris Lider.

SUU moved the ball down the field, but the drive stalled at the Grizzlies' 49-yard line. However, punter Brock Miller faked the punt on fourth down, rushing down the field 22 yards for the first down at the Montana 27-yard line.

Clark said the fake wasn't necessarily a drawn up play, but it was the difference in the ball game.

"The fake punt I think was the play of the game," Clark said. "He has an option. He takes off like he's going to keep it, if he gets rushed, he'll kick it. But no one came, no one hurried him, so he just kept running and got the first down."

The fake punt allowed the T-Birds to set up the go-ahead 38-yard field goal by Cook with 2:12 left in regulation.

SUU then stopped Montana on the Grizzlies' following possession; linebacker Mike Needham stuffed Montana running back Peter Nguyen at the Grizzlies' 34-yard line on fourth down to seal the win.

Crawford-Harris then broke free on the ensuing play, carrying the ball 34 yards for the exclamation touchdown.

"It was offense, defense and special teams all working together that made this win here," Clark said.

SUU quarterback Brad Sorensen led the T-Bird offense with 294 yards passing on 30-for-53 passing and two touchdowns. Sorensen also scored on a 1-yard rush at the goal line in the third quarter.

The 53 passing attempts marks Sorensen's season high in attempts.

Crawford-Harris led SUU's ground game with 64 yards on eight carries, including his 34-yard touchdown at the end of the game.

Fatu Moala caught 11 passes for 104 yards and a touchdown for the T-Birds.

Trent McKinney threw for 194 yards on 17-of-29 passing and a touchdown for Montana; McKinney also ran for another score and threw an interception at the end of the game.

After a sluggish start for each sides, the Grizzlies jumped out to a 7-0 lead with a 6- yard touchdown pass to Clay Pierson at the 3:36 mark in the first quarter.

SUU retaliated by driving down the field, but that drive stalled at midfielder. However, SUU's Randall Nygren recovered a muffed punt by Nguyen in the red zone to give the T-Birds life again.

Sorensen then made the Grizzlies pay on the fumble with a 7-yard touchdown strike to Moala, cutting the SUU deficit to 7-6 after the extra point sailed left of the uprights. The touchdown was SUU's first first-quarter touchdown of the season.

Following a Montana field goal, SUU took its first lead of the game on a 20-yard touchdown pass from Sorensen to Henna Brown, giving SUU a 13-10 lead with 8:38 left in the first half.

However, Montana then marched down the field on an 11-play, 82-yard drive capped off with a 2-yard McKinney touchdown rush to help the Grizzlies reclaim the lead, which it maintained at halftime.

The Grizzlies had a chance to further their lead before the half, but Lider's 34-yard field goal was blocked by SUU lineback Ricky Clark and Montana had to settle with its 17-13 lead at halftime.

SUU then took back the lead in the third quarter when Sorensen barreled his way into the end zone on a 1-yard keeper to complete a 12-play, 77-yard drive, giving the T-Birds a 20-17 lead with 5:55 left in the third quarter.

The game remained at that score until Lider's field goal tied the game with less than eight minutes to play in regulation. A previous attempt by Lider to tie the game in the third quarter was also blocked by SUU.

Zak Browning led SUU's defense with a career-high 18 tackles, including one sack. Mike Needham added 12 tackles, while Nygren contributed with three tackles, a fumble recovery and a blocked kick for the T-Birds.

SUU returns to action next week against instate rival Weber State; kickoff against the Wildcats is slated for 1:05 p.m. at Eccles Coliseum.

Associated Press

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