MISSOULA, Mont. - Northern Colorado had to play its final game of the 2009 season against the top-ranked team in the country on its home field on senior day, which is no easy feat, especially in front of 25,231 fans. The Bears took the early lead but couldn't hold on and Montana remained undefeated with a 38-10 victory.
Northern Colorado ends its season with a 3-8 record and a 1-7 mark in Big Sky Conference action, while Montana improves to 10-0 overall and 7-0 in league play.
"Obviously we started the game off a little bit better than we finished it off," said Head Coach Scott Downing. "We had a good game plan going in and we executed it pretty well at the start of the game both offensively and defensively. But it's like we always tell the guys, when you play really good teams, they're going to turn it up at some point in time and you have to match them when they turn it up. Hats off to Montana, they came out in the second half and turned it up."
Senior quarterback Bryan Waggener completed 26-of-44 passes for 200 yards and one touchdown, ending his career as just one of five players in Northern Colorado to tally over 5,000 yards of total offense, ending with 5,187.
Freshman receiver Patrick Walker caught a career-best 12 passes for 87 yards, while senior receiver Alex Thompson tallied seven receptions for 74 yards and a touchdown. Thompson ends his career with 109 receptions, the seventh most in school history. He also ties for 12th with 10 receiving touchdowns.
Sophomore quarterback Dylan Orms and junior running back Andre Harris each had 25 rushing yards to lead the team.
Junior linebacker John Eddy tallied 17 tackles, a career-best mark for the second-straight game and the third time in the last four contests. Senior linebacker Logan Zabel ended his career with 10 tackles for a career-best, while sophomore defensive end Nick Hernon also notched a career-best 10 stops in the game. Senior cornerback Quincy Wofford tallied his second interception of the season, a 22-yard return in the third quarter.
Montana was led by Chase Reynolds with 151 rushing yards and three touchdowns, while Marc Mariani and Tyler Palmer each caught a touchdown reception. Linebacker Shawn Lebsock led the Griz with nine total tackles.
Northern Colorado got on the scoreboard first as Waggener hit Thompson for an 18-yard touchdown reception. Michael York made the extra point for the 7-0 lead with 13:29 remaining in the first half. The Grizzlies knotted the score on a one-yard touchdown run by Reynolds with 8:03 on the clock. The Bears defense forced the Griz to go for the touchdown on fourth down with three tough stops as UM had first-and-goal on the five.
With 28 ticks left in the half, Montana took the 14-7 lead on a 19-yard pass from Justin Roper to Tyler Palmer on an 80-yard scoring drive.
Reynolds broke free for a 54-yard run on the first drive of the second half for Montana, extending the lead to 21-7 with 13:53 in the third quarter. On the very next drive, Reynolds again broke free, this time for a 37-yard gain and another touchdown for the 28-7 score at 12:03.
Waggener hit Patrick Walker for a 42-yard touchdown, but unfortunately it was called back for a penalty midway through the third quarter. The Bears sustained the drive and added three points on a (25-yard) field goal by York for the 28-10 score. The drive was 70 yards in 21 plays and took over eight minutes off the clock.
After the Wofford interception, the Bears attempted a 37-yard field goal, but it was blocked giving the Grizzlies the ball on the 36-yard line. Montana turned that into three points on a 20-yard field goal for the 31-10 lead with 13:32 remaining.
The Griz tacked on one more touchdown, a 32-yard reception from Andrew Selle to Marc Mariani with 3:41 left in the game for the 38-10 final tally.
The Bears season concludes with a record of 3-8 overall and 1-7 in Big Sky Conference action.