There were almost too many new things to count at Montana’s Washington-
Grizzly Stadium Saturday. After all, the game was the first game of the 2015 Division-I college football season. It featured the Grizzlies and the four-time defending FCS champion North Dakota State Bison. It also was the first game of Bob Stitt’s tenure leading the FCS traditional power Montana Grizzlies.

To top it all off, it was the first football game broadcast legend Brent Musburger ever announced in his home state. However, for the Grizzlies, the tried-and-true story of home-field advantage held true, as Montana beat North Dakota State, 38-35, in front of 26,472 fans- a Washington-Grizzly Stadium record.

With two seconds left in the game, Montana tailback Joey Counts had a one-yard touchdown, capping a sequence that saw the Grizzlies drive 80 yards in 16 plays.

The game featured a quarterback battle, with Montana starter Brady Gustafson and Bison starter Carson Wentz combining for 632 yards and five touchdowns. Gustafson owned the battle, throwing for 434 yards and three touchdowns in his first collegiate start.

Gustafson’s first touchdown pass was to Jamaal Jones- a seven-yard score that tied the game at 7-7 in the first quarter.  A 62-yard pass from Gustafson to Ellis Henderson tied the game at 28-28 in third quarter. Stitt, a noted offensive guru, came to Montana with the goal of having an up-tempo offense. The Grizzlies made that hope come true, running 92 plays for 544 yards. With such a dramatic win in his first game as coach at Montana, Stitt said he was proud of the effort his team gave.

“How about that, huh?” said Stitt, referencing the late-game dramatics. “That was unbelievable, and it was pretty crazy how calm I was and everyone around us- all the players- was so focused. We just played a really, really solid game.”

Montana’s defense limited North Dakota State to 5-of-14 third-down conversions, and also forced two turnovers.

There were several great stories from the game, but one of the game’s human-interests stories came from Montana receiver Ben Roberts. Roberts, who grew up in Missoula but played baseball at Washington State, made a highlight catch on a 38-yard touchdown pass- his first career catch.

Our thanks to Jon Oglesby of the Big Sky Conference for lending us his insight on this amazing football game. GO GRIZ!!!!!!     DB

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