Johnson, Montana blast UND
GRAND FORKS -- The University of North Dakota billed Saturday night's showdown against No. 11 Montana as a Black Out, a plea for North Dakota fans to show up wearing black attire.
The game, however, should have been billed a Knock Out.
That's because Montana delivered blow after blow in knocking out UND 55-17 before 9,726 Alerus Center fans.
"I've said it before and I'll say it again; we have the potential to be a good football team," said UND coach Chris Mussman. "What we put out there today was not indicative of who we are. Everyone in our locker room is angry, upset, disappointed, whatever it might be. We have to deal with it and move forward."
The game was a major reversal from Montana's last visit to Grand Forks as the Griz clearly had the upper hand this time -- dominating North Dakota in all phases. Montana walked off the field with last year's record-setting UND win against the Griz a distant memory.
The setback left North Dakota with a 1-2 record and the unenviable task of playing two more Big Sky powers ranked higher than Montana in the next month.
"We're 1-2; so what?" said UND captain Blair Townsend. "It's a long season. We'll play hard through this and keep our heads held high."
UND beat the Griz 40-34 last season thanks to 704 yards of offense -- 660 coming through the air. It was an electric come-from-behind win.
A year later, there was no UND electricity -- not even a buzz -- as UND suffered its worst loss in the Alerus Center and one of its more lopsided home setbacks in program history.
"This was an opportunity to show what we could do but we shot ourselves in the foot one too many times," said Townsend.
UND got the start it wanted. Behind quarterback Joe Mollberg, UND scored on its first possession. Mollberg's 15-yard scoring pass to Townsend capped the drive.
"It was a good start but the rest of the game tells the story," Townsend said.
After Townsend's touchdown, it was all Montana. The Grizzlies scored on their first five possessions behind the pinpoint execution of quarterback Jordan Johnson, who completed 15 of 19 passes for 354 yards and five touchdowns.
Montana put up 609 yards of offense against UND. The Griz rushed the ball effectively as Jordan Canada gained 104 yards. And it passed the ball at will, as Johnson's favorite receiver, Ellis Henderson, caught five passes for 124 yards and three touchdowns.
His 52-yard TD pass from Johnson on Montana's second possession gave the Griz a 13-7 lead and it only got worse from there for UND.
The Griz didn't have to punt until its final possession in the fourth quarter.
"We started out well, but then we sputtered out," said Mussman. "We weren't very disciplined. That's the bottom line."
UND trailed 33-10 at halftime. UND had a handful of false start penalties in the first half, a delay of game infraction and a personal foul penalty that aided a Montana scoring drive. Mollberg also threw two inter-ceptions in the first two quarters.
Defensively, there were missed assignments as well.
"We beat ourselves; we had mental mistakes," said UND defensive lineman Ben Henson. "Looking at the score, people probably won't think that. We just have to keep grinding."
Throughout the week, Mussman said Montana was a much better team than the one UND defeated last season.
The Griz proved him right.
And Montana also had the revenge factor on its side as the perennial FCS power was embarrassed last season.
"Defensively, I'm proud of the guys," said Montana coach Mick Delaney. "We gave up 700 yards a year ago and that's all we've heard for the last 13 months. It was a great performance."
UND, however, now has to wait for two weeks to play again.
"We have a lot of things to address in the next two weeks," Mussman said.
Montana 20 13 14 8 -- 55
UND 7 3 7 0 -- 17
UND-Blair Townsend 15 pass from Joe Mollberg (Zeb Miller kick), 12:13.
UM-Travon Van 70 pass from Jordan Johnson (kick failed), 11:14.
UM-Ellis Henderson 52 pass from Johnson (Chris Lider kick), 6:11.
UM-Henderson 35 pass from Johnson (Lider kick), :40.
UM-Cam Warren 22 pass from Chase Naccarato (kick blocked), 6:49.
UM-Jordan Canada 32 run (Lider kick), 3:09.
UND-Miller 30 FG, :51.
UM-Canada 2 run (Lider kick), 12:17.
UND-Kenny Golladay 23 run from Mollberg (Miller kick), 5:37.
UM-Henderson 6 pass from Johnson (Lider kick), 1:27.
UM-Joey Counts 51 pass from Johnson (Cam Warren run), 11:49.
TEAM STATISTICS UM UND
First downs 26 23
Rushes-yards 37-233 35-55
Passing yards 376 281
Comp.-Att.-Int. 16-20-0 25-45-2
Total yards 609 336
Fumbles-lost 0-0 0-0
Penalties-yards 6-58 9-73
Punts-Avg. 1-38 4-45.8
RUSHING: UM, Jordan Canada 14-104, Travon Van 10-72, Joey Counts 7-26, Jordan Johnson 4-21, Shay Smithwick-Hann 1-7, John Nguyen 1-3. UND, Jake Miller 8-31, Jer Garman 9-27, Adam Shaugabay 5-10, Jameer Jackson 3-6, Joe Mollberg 8-(-1), Ryan Bartels 1-(-7).
PASSING: UM, Johnson 15-19-0 354 yards 5TDs, Chase Naccarato 1-1-0 22 yards 1TD. UND, Mollberg 25-43-2 281 yards 2TDs, Bartels 0-2-0 0 yards.
RECEIVING: UM, Ellis Henderson 5-124, Van 2-75, Counts 1-51, Taylor Walcott 2-43, Cam Warren 2-35, Jamaal Jones 1-35, Jordan Harper 1-10, Jamal Wilson 1-4, Gavin Hagfors 1-(-1). UND, Kenny Golladay 7-106, Jackson 9-86, Greg Hardin 5-46, Blair Townsend 3-33, Miller 1-10, Pat Brown 1-9.