Update: After this sports recap was published, it was announced that College GameDay will not be coming to Missoula for the Brawl of the Wild.

Football

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University of Montana running back Junior Bergen stiff-arms a Southern Utah player as he sprints up the field clutching onto the ball at Washington-Grizzly Stadium on Oct. 30. After beating Northern Colorado 35-0 on Nov. 6, Montana will face off against Northern Arizona in Flagstaff, Arizona, on Nov. 13. 

The University of Montana football team traveled to Northern Colorado and bashed the Bears 35-0 on Nov. 6, but the most notable topic discussed regarding the football team this week was the ESPN show College GameDay coming to Missoula. 

“I think it would be great for the University of Montana and great for Missoula,” UM head coach Hauck said of the show. “That would be awesome.” 

UM Athletics began campaigning for College GameDay to come to Missoula for the Brawl of the Wild on Nov. 20 at the very end of October. Since the campaign started, fans have been using the hashtag #GrizonGameDay and some fans even hiked up Mt. Sentinel to put letters next to the “M” to create a large “G A M E D A Y” on the mountain. 

“We have already worked through kind of where they (College GameDay) would have conference room space, parking, where the stage would be,” UM athletic director Kent Haslam said. “Things are in motion.” 

In UM’s football game, which was played in Greely, Colorado, the Griz dominated every quarter. The Griz took an early lead when redshirt senior quarterback Cam Humphrey found redshirt freshman Cole Grossman for a passing touchdown to go up 7-0.

Humphrey made his return to the starting lineup after hurting his ankle in a game against Eastern Washington on Oct. 2 and passed for 233 yards and three touchdowns. Humphrey played in a game against Southern Utah for the Griz, but he came off the bench. 

Humphrey showed off his speed later in the first quarter when he ran for a 20 yard touchdown to put Montana up 14-0. Humphrey ran for 71 positive yards but was also sacked five times in the game, so his yard total was 35. 

In the second quarter, redshirt senior receiver Samuel Akem made a tough catch over one Northern Colorado defender and forced his way past another for a 42 yard touchdown to put UM up 21-0. Akem had a stellar game, catching three passses for 72 yards and two toucdowns.

The Griz led 21-0 at halftime. In the third quarter, Akem caught another touchdown, this time for 17 yards, to increase UM’s lead to 28-0. 

The Griz racked up 233 passing yards compared to UNC’s 173 and also forced two turnovers. One of UM’s forced turnovers was an interception by Justin Ford, who now has had an interception in a staggering seven straight games. 

Montana won the game 35-0 and recorded its first shutout of the season. UM’s next game will be on the road against Northern Arizona on Nov. 13. (Jack Marshall)

Soccer

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Montana fifth-year defensive player and team captain Taylor Hansen guides the ball away from Idaho State as she dribbles down the field. Montana Women’s Soccer won the Big Sky Conference Tournament on Nov. 6 and held the top five MVP positions. The team will move on to face Washington State in the NCAA Tournament on Nov. 12.

University of Montana Women’s Soccer won the Big Sky Conference Tournament on Nov. 6 and held the top five MVP positions and will move on to face Washington State in the NCAA Tournament on Nov. 12.

Last Sunday the women’s soccer team clinched another shutout match in Greeley, Colorado. The Griz beat Weber State 1-0 and took home the Big Sky Conference Championship for the second year in a row, proving themselves to be a consistent forerunner in the conference.

“It's not an accident, because we keep doing it over and over again. It just goes to show how strong our program is,” said Taylor Hansen, a fifth-year senior and defensive player with the Griz.

The Griz took the only point scored in the final game of the conference tournament. A fast pass up the center from Sydney Haustein to Zoe Transtrum who made a split-second decision and redirected the ball to Jaden Griggs, who swept in unseen from the left to tap the ball in for the conference-winning goal in the 36th minute of play.

Montana’s soccer team has won the conference championship three times in the last five years and taken at least one league title in each of the other three. 

The Grizzlies went 13-5-1, their highest number of wins since 2000, and have only lost one game since Sept. 5, racking up six straight shutout matches in the meantime. Camellia Xu, the team’s redshirt freshman goalie was awarded defensive player of the week four times through the conference season.

But she’s not the only Griz in the top rankings. The Big Sky All-Tournament Team picks have Griz players in the top six positions with Xu as MVP.

The team is making its sixth trip to the NCAA tournament since the start of the program, its third in the last four years. This year’s senior class is the first in program history to make three NCAA tournaments.

“There is a lot more experience going in. We expected to be here. This is the new expectation,” Transtrum said. 

The Griz play Washington State in Pullman, Washington on Saturday, Nov. 13, and while Washington has successfully kept the Griz from advancing in the NCAA in the past, the team is looking forward to the chance.

“We kind of know what we're expecting," Hansen said. "I think we're a team that people may underestimate. But we're here, we can accomplish anything and we're going to work for it." (Asa Metcalfe)

Volleyball 

The University of Montana volleyball team picked up two big home wins over the weekend, beating Eastern Washington 3-0 on Nov. 4 and Idaho 3-2 on Nov. 6. 

The two wins were the final home games of the year for UM, so the game against Idaho was senior night. Five UM seniors, Peyten Boutwell, Elsa Godwin, Sarina Moreno, Kelsey Nestegard and Holly Manchester, were all honored with a pregame ceremony. 

The Griz throttled Eastern Washington, winning all three sets pretty easily. The first set was won 25-20 by the Griz.

UM was led in kills by true freshman Paige Clark, who had 13. Clark, who is a budding star for the Griz volleyball team, also had eight digs and four blocks. 

The second and third sets against Eastern Washington were even easier for UM, which helped them win 25-19 and then 25-11. 

Montana was also helped to its victory by Moreno, who had three aces and 10 digs.

UM’s game against Idaho two days later was a harder fight. UM won the first set 25-17 and the second set 25-20, but Idaho then began a comeback effort.

The Vandals beat the Griz 25-23 in both the third and fourth sets to tie up the match 2-2. UM was led in kills by Boutwell, who had 19 in her final game in Dahlberg Arena. Clark also added three aces in the game.

In the fifth and final set, UM outlasted Idaho 15-10 to win the match 3-2.

UM’s next two matches will be against Sacramento State on Nov. 11 and Portland State on Nov. 13, both on the road. (JM)

Basketball 

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Lady Griz forward Carmen Gfeller moves for a layup amid a rush of Rocky Mountain defenders. The women's basketball team will take on Gonzaga at home on Nov. 14, and UM's men's team will face off against Mississippi State on the road on Nov. 13.

Both of UM’s basketball teams opened up their season on Nov. 9 at home. For more on the games, click here. 

Hockey

The Montana Grizzlies hockey team hosted the Eastern Washington Eagles for a weekend double header on Nov. 5 and 6 and split the matchups. 

Griz came into the game on Nov. 5 with something to prove after a 5-6 loss the night before. 

The drive was there, but the team wasn’t as coordinated as EWU’s in the start. The Eagles took control and held the Griz to task, keeping a tight control and forcing UM to scramble for defense in the first minutes of the game.

After a few good back-and-forths the Griz seemed to have gained some focus. UM took a few desperate long shots to no avail before snapping into formation and taking calculated runs at the goal. 

But that didn’t save UM from falling behind by one goal as Eastern Washington freshman Jake Best slipped a lucky puck past UM goalie Will Hays. 

“We tend to dig ourselves a little bit of a hole,” UM coach Mike Anderson said. “This time we didn't let it get too big.”

The Griz headed into the second period trailing by two. UM dominated the rink for most of the game, cutting through the Eagles' defense with good skating and strategic passing.

“We were able to take advantage of Eastern Washington having a little less structure than us and I think that paid out really big in the end for us,” UM senior Zach Lawson said.

Despite what the Griz fans had to say in the student section, often creating hypothetical chants about EWU goalie Spencer Burton’s mom, the goalie played very well, racking 27 saves. 

The referees ended up working just as hard as the players in the match, calling endless penalties and breaking up a few scuffles. The game went hold at one point while the officials parsed out a spat between Lawson and EWU’s Mitch Hunt.

“It was a little unfortunate with the officiating this weekend,” Lawson said. He also said both teams took their share of calls and he appreciates Eastern Washington’s players for dealing with it. 

“Shout out to those boys,” said Lawson, who spent time in the box during the game.

After the break UM’s Jackson Knutsen snatched the puck off the drop and bolted down the ice before snapping it into the goal in an incredible six second play giving UM its first goal and tying the game up at 1-1.

From there Eastern Washington lost its stride and UM maintained control of the rink.

After another goal from each team, a nice, short pass from Lawson to Morrison led to a score to put the Griz up 3-2.

UM led into the third period and the game kept pace. More penalties. More penalty shots. The Griz continued to play well off the penalties, and Eastern Washington kept committing them. 

A penalty drop took the game to the Eagles' goal side again and a quick snap over to the center set UM forward Philip Winter up for a fast fastbreak goal. Winter’s score made the Griz lead 4-2.

At one point EWU’s Ethan Florko, a former Missoula Mauler, triped Lawson with a stick hook and spent two minutes in the penalty box. UM’s Wyatt Ploot then took two minutes in the box for interference.

UM had the lead at 5-2 with two minutes left in the third period. Eastern Washington’s coach then took a gamble and pulled Burton from the goal to free up man for an offensive option. The Eagles got desperate and took some big chances. 

“It's a pretty common tactic to try and get a little more advantage. Obviously you saw the risk of it tonight though. It's really easy to score against it, but I’d do the same thing,” Anderson said.

Griz took advantage of the empty net and scored against it when forward Ty Dittman got a nice clean long shot from near center ice to make the score 6-2.

When the final horn sounded, the Griz led 6-2. UM’s next game will be home against Weber State on Nov. 11. (AM)