Story and photo courtesy of Montana Athletics
Freshman quarterback Trent McKinney threw for 214 yards and two touchdowns in leading the Montana football team to a 35-24 debut win over South Dakota Saturday in front of 25,126 fans in Missoula.
A Coyote fumble led to a Jordan Canada 3-yard TD run that gave Montana a 35-24 lead with 3:25 left in the third period. It seemed to take most of the wind out of the sails of upset-minded South Dakota.
Griz running back Dan Moore scooted 13 yards up the middle for a touchdown that gave Montana the lead for good, 28-24, with 4:59 left in the third quarter.
The Griz put together a nice comeback after struggling early in the second half and spotting USD an eight-point lead. They trimmed their deficit to 24-22 on a 39-yard trick play with 7:11 left in the third quarter. McKinney passed the ball backwards to tight end Greg Hardy who turned and threw to wideout Bryce Carver. The Griz failed to convert a McKinney-to-Jordan Canada pass play on their two-point conversion try.
South Dakota's lead was 24-16 at one point after Charlie Goro intercepted a McKinney pass and rambled 50 yards for a touchdown with 9:47 left in the third quarter. The pass deflected off the hands of a UM receiver.
The Coyotes took their first lead, 17-16, with 10:52 left in the third quarter on an 80-yard TD pass from Josh Vander Maten to Terrance Terry.
South Dakota struggled mightily to move the ball early, then started building confidence. The Coyotes scored on an 8-yard TD pass to cut their deficit to 16-10 with 1:01 left in the first half. The score remained the same at intermission.
Montana enjoyed a 16-3 lead at one point. McKinney hit Cam Warren with a short pass and he made a nice move around a South Dakota defender on his way to a 17-yard TD with 6:08 left in the second quarter.
South Dakota scored its first points on a Kevin Robb 25-yard field goal at 10:33 in the second quarter. The score came after Montana's Peter Nguyen muffed a punt, giving the Coyotes possession deep in Montana territory.
Montana went up 10-0 with 14:40 left in the second quarter. Sam Gratton made a nice catch on a flare pass by McKinney and ran three yards for the first UM touchdown of the season.
Montana scored its first points on a Chris Lider 21-yard field goal with 1:21 left in the first period. The Griz had first-and-goal at the South Dakota 5-yard line but failed to put the ball in for a touchdown.
Montana set a school record with 34 first downs. Moore had 148 yards rushing on 27 attempts.