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Rapid reaction: No. 5 Weber State 24, No. 11 Montana 21

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Posted at 4:22 PM, Oct 29, 2022

OGDEN, Utah — Montana’s offense sputtered in a 24-21 Big Sky Conference loss Saturday at Weber State, which was the Grizzlies' third consecutive defeat.

No. 11-ranked UM was without starting quarterback Lucas Johnson, who suffered a head injury during last Saturday’s loss at Sacramento State and was held out of the lineup this week. Backup Kris Brown threw for 72 yards and rushed for a touchdown, but the Griz managed just 42 yards on the ground and 10 total first downs.

Montana mounted a fourth-quarter rally thanks to a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Malik Flowers, but No. 5-ranked Weber State converted a fourth-and-1 play on a run by Kris Jackson on its next possession and was able to run out the clock with the Grizzlies out of timeouts.

Weber State got a 47-yard touchdown run from Damon Bankston and a 69-yard TD throw from Bronson Barron to Ty MacPherson, but the key score was a 12-yard toss from Barron to Hayden Meacham, which put the Wildcats up by 11 points with with 5:56 remaining.

With the loss, Montana fell to 5-3 overall and 2-3 in the Big Sky. Weber State bounced back from last week’s loss at Montana State, and improved to 7-1 overall and 4-1 in the league.

It marks the Grizzlies' first three-game losing streak since 2018 and just their second since 1992.

ANALYSIS: Jay Kohn and Marty Mornhinweg discuss the Grizzlies' 24-21 loss at Weber State (Oct. 29, 2022)

Turning point: After a Justin Ford interception produced a 32-yard field goal by Nico Ramos (which cleared the crossbar despite being tipped at the line by the Weber State’s Maxwell Anderson), the Wildcats hit their second big-play TD with a 69-yard pitch and catch from Barron to MacPherson down the left sideline.

Montana’s secondary misplayed the coverage, leaving MacPherson wide open and able to run to the end zone untouched. That gave WSU a 17-13 lead with 5:40 left in the third quarter.

Stat of the game: Montana’s running game never got going. Weber State limited the Grizzlies to 42 yards on 38 carries, an average of 1.1 yards per rush. The Griz were led on the ground by Nick Ostmo’s 26 yards.

Grizzly game balls: CB Justin Ford (defense). Ford’s leaping interception in the third quarter served as a momentum-shifter and helped pull the Grizzlies within 16-13 in the third quarter.

KR Malik Flowers (special teams). Flowers 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, followed by Junior Bergen’s two-point toss to Mitch Roberts, pull Montana within three points with 5:43 left in the game.

What’s next: The Grizzlies will return home for the first time since mid-October next Saturday when they host Cal Poly. The game is scheduled to kick off at 6 p.m. from Washington-Grizzly Stadium and will be broadcast on the Montana Television Network.