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Griz Trickery Surprises Sac State
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Gerald Kemp is a redshirt freshman quarterback who has made only one pass - an interception - for the Montana Grizzlies, though he’s shown himself to be a dangerous runner.
On Saturday, in Montana’s 45-30 Big Sky Conference football win over Sacramento State, it was his sticky hands and not his arm or legs that boosted the Griz.
Kemp had a Marc Mariani-like leaping grab of Brody McKnight’s onside kick to set up the Grizzlies’ go-ahead TD.
“We’d been practicing it all week,” said Kemp, who stayed in for a play on the ensuing drive, which made it 21-14 on Chase Reynolds’ 1-yard run. “Coach (Bobby Hauck) gave us the green light. I knew it was going to be either me or (Jeff) Larson that was going to get it.
“I just ran as hard as I could and jumped up and caught it. It was a great kick by Brody. That was an amazing kick. He couldn’t have put it in a better place.”
It was one of three large plays in the kicking game for the Griz. Another was Mariani’s 54-yard return early in the third quarter, a burst down the right sideline. Sac State punter Augie Heath managed to get Mariani down at the 5-yard line, but Reynolds scored his third TD of the day on the next snap, making it 28-14 Montana.
Then there was Larson’s 15-yard run on a fake field goal. Thomas Brooks-Fletcher scored two plays later for a 35-21 Griz lead.
The tactics serve notice to Weber State, the Grizzlies’ foe next week, and everyone else to be on guard.
“Any given week we’re looking for something,” said Hauck. “They gave it to us. And it helped us, obviously setting us up for a touchdown.”
Montana won’t rocket up the charts for pass defense after Saturday, but Sac State’s fourth-quarter possessions ended in an interception, TD pass, fourth-down pass batted down and an interception.
It was sophomore Donny Lisowski who batted down a pass in the end zone meant for Jon Krebs. Caleb McSurdy and Mike Cummings supplied the picks.
“I thought the guys did a good job,” said safety Shann Schillinger. “You know, we gave up a few big plays but give them credit, they made some good throws.”
Griz corners Trumaine Johnson and Keith Thompson missed the game with injuries. Andrew Swink wasn’t 100 percent but played some. That left Lisowski and junior Brandon Dodson to take most of the reps at corner.
The run-conscious Hauck gave the defense a passing grade. As long as Terrance Dailey or any other back doesn’t go off, he’s happy.
“It’s certainly not what we want. We’d like to be leading the free world in every defensive category,” said Hauck. “But that’s kind of not where we’re at right now.
“I know we’re talking about the secondary here, but it all ties together; when we’re running the ball as well as we did, and they can’t, it’s going to be hard for them to win.”
Jabin Sambrano scored Montana’s final points on the perfect call into a blitz: A screen that he took 57 yards for his first TD of the season, thanks in no small part to a block from teammate Sam Gratton.
“Sam Gratton just made a cut at him and I could feel him (the defender) swipe the back of my pants,” said Sambrano. “Then all the linemen were running up the field and I was just following. I just ran straight.”
The Griz outgained the Hornets 471-433 in yardage. It was Montana’s fourth 40-point game in five outings.
“We still have a lot to show,” said Sambrano. “We’re just starting. We’re just going to get better, every day.”
QUICK KICKS: Mariani is now averaging 27.4 yards per punt return, and his 22 career receiving TDs give him sole possession of sixth place in UM annals. … Sac State LB Peter Buck, who was sharing time with Avery White before White was ejected, had 18 tackles. … UM’s Justin Roper and Andrew Selle combined for a QB efficiency rating of 163.2.
Griz trickery surprises Sac
By FRITZ NEIGHBOR of the Missoulian