The energy in Washington-Grizzly Stadium was tangible leading into Montana’s first home game of the 2021 season against the Western Illinois Leathernecks on Sept. 11, and it led to a massive 42-7 win.
"That stadium was awesome. It's fun to see it full," UM head coach Bobby Hauck said.
Fans were ready for the Grizzlies to return to their groove after last season’s many COVID-19-related disappointments. The game, which had a sold-out crowd of 25,238, was the first UM home football game with unlimited attendance since early 2020.
Fresh off its remarkable 13-7 win against the No. 20 ranked FBS Washington Huskies last week, both the team and the spectators expected a blowout. The Grizzlies delivered, gaining nearly 400 more yards than WIU.
The Leathernecks left Missoula with their tails between their legs, suffering a 42-7 loss, and gave head coach Bobby Hauck his 100th win as head of the program.
“Every win we get, it takes a lot of work by a lot of people putting forth a lot of themselves,” he said. “Their time, their effort, their emotion. I’m a figurehead, and it’s nice to get those accolades, but it’s everybody else.”
The Grizzlies’ brick wall defense, lead in tackles and assists by junior safety Robby Hauck and junior linebacker Patrick O’Connell, continually stopped WIU in its tracks, forcing two fumble recoveries and an interception. The only points Montana allowed resulted from a 75-yard interception return in the second quarter.
This marks nearly 115 minutes of gameplay where the Grizzlies have not allowed offensive points.
O’Connell complimented his teammates and coaches for being “locked in and laser focused,” and said, “as a defense we focus on getting stops, especially after there’s a sudden change [in possession]. So that’s a huge deal that we focus and put emphasis on.”
Montana’s gameplay was thoroughly offensive as well. In a career high, senior quarterback Cam Humphrey powered through two turnovers to pass for five touchdowns.
He also picked up 252 yards through the air, finding his favored receivers Malik Flowers, Mitch Roberts and Samuel Akem with ease. The game was a breakout one for Flowers, who hauled in three passes for 100 yards and two touchdowns.
As Montana goes into a bye week, it will be preparing for its homecoming game and its first in-conference match-up against Cal Poly on Sept. 25 at home.