Montana's Miller impresses, sets records

Matt Miller's team may not have won the Badlands Bowl, but he sure provided several of the wild game's fireworks. The 6-foot-4, 215-pound receiver from Helena, Mont., broke Bowl records with 202 yards receiving and 12 receptions while rushing for...

Matt Miller
Press Photo by Dustin Monke Team Montana receiver Matt Miller out of Helena Capital High School set two Badlands Bowl receiving records on Saturday.

Matt Miller's team may not have won the Badlands Bowl, but he sure provided several of the wild game's fireworks.

The 6-foot-4, 215-pound receiver from Helena, Mont., broke Bowl records with 202 yards receiving and 12 receptions while rushing for 24 yards Saturday night at the Badlands Activities Center.

Team Montana's most valuable offensive player, an award voted on by the media and game officials, said after the game that he knew he had made some spectacular plays, but was too saddened about Montana's 41-38 loss to Team North Dakota to think about them.

"Right now, I'm still upset because we lost the game so I haven't had time to think about any of those plays," Miller said. "I was just doing my best to try and help the team win the game."

The Boise State-bound standout was every bit as good as advertised.


Miller tipped his first catch of the game back to himself in traffic, giving Montana a first down. He went on to make a 9-yard touchdown reception on a dump pass from quarterback Tyler Hulse.

In the second quarter, Miller snatched a toss from Hulse down the left side and shoved away defenders before turning and racing 47 yards for the score.

Miller didn't get in the end zone again, but he was everywhere Montana needed him to be in the second half, especially when they were driving late in the fourth quarter.

"We had to pass the ball to get back in the game," Miller said. "Coach Arnston, he was calling our numbers. As a receiver, you just want to get open. We just made too many mistakes."

Montana had six interceptions. Ironically, Miller threw one of them.

His only real mistake came on a receiver pass in the second quarter. Miller took the handoff from quarterback Shay Smithwick-Hann and went deep, only to get picked off.

While Miller had a successful game in his final high school appearance, he said it might take him until this morning to realize it.

"I'm sure tomorrow morning I'm going to wake up and it's going to be bittersweet," Miller said.


Jolliffe plays major role in North Dakota win.

Nick Jolliffe didn't win a most valuable player award Saturday night, but he probably should have.

The Bismarck High product was everywhere for Team North Dakota.

As a defensive back, Jolliffe made a game-clinching interception with 29 seconds left and had a pick in the second quarter that led to a touchdown.

His interception in the final minute was reminiscent of New Orleans Saints defensive back Tracy Porter's classic pick of Brett Favre during this year's NFC Championship game.

"The quarterback was rolling out, all our guys were sticking with their guys and I got the opportunity to take it and I did," Jolliffe said.

Montana quarterback Shay Smithwick-Hann threw across his body and Jolliffe was right there. Jolliffe wasn't, however, a fan of the similarity of the two plays when the subject was brought up.

"Well I'm a big (Minnesota) Vikings fan," Jolliffe said with a laugh. "But I'm glad I got that opportunity."


Jolliffe also made eight tackles and had only one glaring mistake in the secondary -- allowing Miller to shake free and race to his 47-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter.

"I was just out there playing hard and everybody was playing hard," said Jolliffe, who also had a team-high 49 yards receiving on three catches.

BAC impresses visitors

High school coach Davey Zinke has seen his share of football fields.

So, does the North Prairie head coach from Rolla think the BAC is the best outdoor stadium in North Dakota?

"Without a question," Zinke said from his seat in the third row around the 50-yard line.

"I think it's just absolutely beautiful," said Zinke, who'll likely see the BAC again soon since his son is Tommy Zinke, a quarterback at Valley City State.

The first game at the completed stadium was a huge hit among spectators, who had their first chance to watch a football game in the stands.


"I'd never thought in my life I'd see something like this," said Dickinson's Del Gab, a Blue Hawk Booster Club member who bought a spot in the reserved blue stadium seats.

It took a while for some fans to find their seats as many spent time milling around the facility or taking tours of the press box and locker room areas.

Even the visiting fans were taken back a bit by the stadium.

"We were surprised," said Greg Oswood of Great Falls, whose son of the same name played wide receiver for Team Montana. "We had heard of it. We didn't realize it would be this nice of a facility."

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