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University of Montana wide receiver Samuel Akem reaches to grab the ball before being tackled. The official flagged the Vandals for unsportsmanlike conduct shortly after. 

The Grizzlies, ranked fifth among the FCS schools, were able to shake early struggles and overcome a 10-point first-half deficit on Nov. 9. They defeated the Idaho Vandals 42-17, improving their record to 8-2 this season. The win increases the likelihood that the Griz will enter the playoffs this season.

Montana only achieved 67 yards of offense in the first quarter. The team threw two interceptions and fumbled the ball inside its own redzone. Idaho’s kicker Cade Coffey was able to score a 30-yard field goal first.

With 11:04 left in the second quarter, Vandal Connor Whitney was able to catch a 12-yard pass from quarterback Mason Petrino in the end zone, increasing the lead to 10-0 for the Vandals.

After an ankle injury, quarterback Dalton Sneed returned to play in the second quarter, replacing Cam Humphrey. This was Sneed’s first game back since the Griz lost to Sacramento State on Oct. 19.

The Grizzlies drove down the field and freshman Nick Ostmo scored their first points with a 7-yard touchdown. Before halftime, Montana was able to get two sacks in a row and with 1:49 remaining, and forced Idaho to punt the ball. Sneed led the offense to score again, passing a 44-yard pass to Samori Toure. The Griz were winning 14-10 going into halftime.

At the start of the second half, the Griz defense stopped the Vandal offense from picking up first downs. Redshirt sophomore Patrick O’Connell recovered a fumble at the Idaho 30-yard line. Once again, Ostmo reached the end zone on a 1-yard touchdown run with 5:44 remaining in the quarter.

The game continued in kind. Idaho threw an interception and the Griz capitalized when Marcus Knight scored another touchdown.

At the beginning of the fourth quarter, Dante Olson passed Jordan Tripp’s fifth-place record for all-time tackles at UM, with 336.

Although Idaho did score again, the Griz reached a 42-17 lead. Marcus Knight and Nick Ostmo scored five touchdowns combined on 91 yards rushing

“It was a hard-fought win, a team win,” said coach Bobby Hauck at the post-game press conference. “We were in a bad shape in the first quarter and our defense kept pulling the rope, keeping us in it. We were struggling on offense with three turnovers in the first quarter, we were lucky we weren't down 28-0 or something. After we got that fixed, we played really well in all three phases. It was a great win for us.”

Montana will have another home game next week against Weber State, currently ranked fourth in the FCS. Kick-off will be at 1 p.m. at Washington-Grizzly Stadium.

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