HILLSBORO, Ore. — Montana football coach Bobby Hauck couldn’t believe Portland State finished with 23 points when he looked at the scoreboard after the Grizzlies’ victory over the Vikings on Saturday.
It sure didn’t feel like Portland State got much going offensively, but the Vikings took advantage of Montana’s mistakes in the first half before the Griz suffocated them in the second half for a 38-23 win.
“As well as our defense is playing, it was pretty smooth actually at halftime,” Hauck said. “We felt like we had them dialed up pretty good. In fact, it’s kind of a shame to see 23 on the board, with as well as they played. But it was good enough. We felt like we could score, and we did. It was a good effort by everybody.”
Montana limited Portland State to 321 total yards of offense, including just 43 rushing yards on 29 carries. None of the Vikings’ four scoring drives went more than 50 yards.
“The D-line played unreal today,” Montana linebacker Jace Lewis said. “Dante played unreal. Our REB played unreal. The DBs were covering to give us some more time to just get in there and cause some (chaos) ... It worked out pretty good. We had a good game plan coming in here.”
The Griz gave up 14 points off turnovers in the first half but corrected that in the second half, outscoring the Vikings 24-6. It’s the fourth consecutive game and the sixth time in nine games they pitched a scoreless fourth quarter.
“The first half, we made a few mistakes, a couple coverages we messed up. I know that didn’t help us much,” Lewis said. “But the second half, that’s been our thing all year is just not letting it get to us and coming out and it’s a new quarter, new half and just getting after them.”
The Griz regularly found their way into the backfield with blitzes and had Portland State quarterback Davis Alexander running for his life. They picked up the pressure in the second half and finished with five sacks, eight tackles for loss and two interceptions.
“The plan was to pressure quite a bit,” Hauck said. “We just felt like it’d be productive, and it was obviously.”
Lewis finished with a game-high three sacks and one quarterback hurry. He had one sack all season through eight games coming into Saturday.
“It seemed like he was all over the place,” Hauck said. “He’s a good blitzer. We brought him quite a bit. He was productive.”
Hauck had high praise for how Alexander kept fighting.
"I got a chance to talk to him after the game. He waited around to find me," Hauck said. "Obviously, I had high regard for him going into the game and had the same going out of the game. I think he’s a tough kid, and I appreciate tough football guys, and he’s one of them."
Redshirt freshman Alex Gubner intercepted his third pass of the season, which wouldn’t seem out of the ordinary if he played in the secondary or even linebacker, but he’s a 6-foot-3, 290-pound defensive lineman.
“It’s this Voodoo, BS defense we run,” Hauck jokingly said of what he credits Gubner’s three interceptions to. “Coming into the game, I think we had a secondary guy leading us in sacks and a D-lineman leading in interceptions. Byproduct of the stuff we do.”
“Just how it was drawn up?” Hauck was asked.
“Yeah, that’s what it is,” Hauck responded with a laugh.
Gubner’s three interceptions are the most by a Grizzly this season. He was the only Montana player with more than one until Dareon Nash collected his second on a deep heave by Alexander in the closing minutes.
Gubner’s teammates couldn’t help but laugh about him leading the team in picks.
“You know, he’s a hell of a kid. He’s a hell of a kid,” quarterback Cam Humphrey said. “Insane athlete. Doesn’t surprise me. He’s a hell of an athlete.”
“I love it. I love it,” wide receiver Samori Toure added. “It’s just crazy to me. Like Gub, I don’t know, he has a nose for the ball. Shout out to Gub. I don’t even know. That blows my mind.”
“It’s cool to see him getting those picks,” Lewis said. “We’re looking back, and he’s just running all over. It’s cool to see. It’s just all fun. Whoever’s making a play, everybody’s partying on their head. It’s a good time.”
Washington-Grizzly Stadium West
Montana’s game at Hillsboro Stadium felt like a home game as Griz fans appeared to make up the majority of the announced attendance of 6,191 fans.
“Even though this was Washington-Grizzly Stadium West here today, we’re excited to go home and play,” Hauck said.
The Montana fans even broke out in chants of “Jerry!” when senior punt returner Jerry Louie-McGee lined up for punt returns.
“I got to give a shoutout to all the Griz fans out there because this was basically a home game for us,” Toure said. “When someone made a good play, everyone was screaming. I couldn’t tell who made the play. I just got to give big ups to the Griz fans. We have a lot of momentum coming back home, which is what we love. We just came out here and did what we were supposed to do.”
Added Humphrey: “We have the best fan base in the FCS by far. It’s awesome playing in front of them. To be honest, it felt like a home game here. We had most of the crowd filled up. It was awesome coming out here and getting the win, but we always love playing in front of our fans.”