This may just be a team of destiny.

For 58 out of 60 minutes on Saturday, October 19, the Cal Poly Mustangs flat outplayed the Montana Grizzlies inside a hostile environment at Washington Grizzly Stadium. They ran for over 300 yards, and their defense held the normally potent Montana running game to a paltry 73 yards rushing.

Photo by Lorna Wall

The game was sponsored by Team-Up Montana,and the crowd was a sea of pink, as funds were raised to battle breast cancer.

Then, with Cal Poly relentlessly driving toward the north end zone for a virtual chip-shot field goal with a little over two minutes to play that would have put the game out of reach, Jordan Tripp, who doesn't wear that legacy jersey number 37 by accident, hurtled through the Cal Poly line and blocked the kick, giving the Grizzlies the ball on their own 10, with 90 yards to go to tie the game.

At the post game press conference, Montana head coach Mick Delaney said he gathered his team together just before the field goal attempt.

"I told them, we're going to block this kick, drive the field and score a touchdown, and then win it in overtime," Delaney said. His words proved to be prophetic.

Jordan Johnson rediscovered his passing touch after suffering only his first interception all year, and drove the Grizzlies downfield with 5 and 10 yard precision passes. Then, with the ball on the two yard-line on fourth and goal, Johnson faked the hand-off and tossed the ball into the waiting arms of tight-end Clay Pierson, tying the game, and sending it into overtime.

At this point, destiny seemed to be guiding the Grizzlies, who scored a touchdown in overtime, as Johnson hit wide receiver Ellis Henderson, who fought off two tacklers, and pushed the ball over the pylon on the right side of the north end zone.

Cal Poly, who had largely ignored the Washington-Grizzly crowd of 25, 913 throughout regulation, seemed bothered by the intensity of the moment as they faced the raucous north end zone. Quarterback Dano Graves, who had been Mr. Efficiency all game long, tossed an ill-advised pass that was picked off by Grizzly linebacker Brock Coyle just shy of the end zone.

Game over, 21-14 Grizzlies.

photo by Peter Christian

The post-game press conference featured an exhausted but exhilarated group of players, accompanied by a very proud head coach, who was asked where this finish ranks in his memory.

"I had a lot of old-timers after the game who told me this ranked in the top two, with the come from behind win over South Dakota State in 2009," Delaney said."

The coach saluted his defense, noting that even though they gave up a lot of yards on the ground, they kept the potent Mustang offense out of the end zone throughout the second half.

"Although they had the ball for 33 minutes to our 23 minutes, we never gave up any big plays," Delaney said. "They had three touchdown passes last week against Weber State and they had a couple of runs over 50 yards, but we didn't give up any of that. They scored 25 against nationally ranked Fresno State, but we were able to hold them to just 14 points and a bunch of three-and-outs."

Linebacker Brock Coyle, who intercepted the pass at the goal line ending the game, said the hardest part of the game was living through the dogpile after the game was over.

"I thought I was gonna die,man," Coyle laughed. "Every time I'm yelling at the guys to get off, air is going out of my lungs. But, that's why you play the game and have moments like that with your teammates."

"Thank God I'm so slow," added coach Delaney, or I would have really crushed him when I jumped on the pile."

It doesn't get any easier for the Grizzlies, with top five ranked Eastern Washington coming to Washington-Grizzly Stadium on Saturday, October 26. The Grizzlies will probably be without the talents of running back Travon Van, who coach Delaney said may have suffered a major sprain. Van was on crutches during the second half of the game.

Now at 6-1 and 3-1 in Big Sky Conference play, the 10th ranked Grizzlies have helped to erase last season's 5-6 record, and perhaps destiny may be waiting in the wings.

Post Game Press Conference, featuring Coach Mick Delaney, tight end clay Pierson, linebackers Jordan Tripp and Brock Coyle and quarterback Jordan Johnson.