MISSOULA, Mont. – Junior communication major Max O’Rourke split the uprights midway through the third quarter from 41 yards during Saturday’s Big Sky Conference game at Washington-Grizzly Stadium, junior communication major Jake Maier connected with junior managerial economics major Wes Preece five minutes later, then found senior sociology major Keelan Doss in the back of the end zone with 13:31 left in the fourth quarter to continue UC Davis’ second-half comeback at Montana.
When Maier connected with redshirt freshman biochemistry and molecular biology major Ulonzo Gilliam on the subsequent two-point conversion, a packed house fell silent, with the exception of UC Davis fans in attendance, and the Grizzlies’ 21-3 halftime lead completely disappeared after the Aggies’ scored 18 unanswered, up to that point of the game.
After forcing Montana to punt, the Aggies captured their first lead of the day when sophomore sociology major Tehran Thomas broke free for a 56-yard TD, on the longest rush of his career, to help give his team, combined with O’Rourke’s extra point, a 28-21 advantage.
It was then when UC Davis’ defense came up huge when senior American studies major Mason Moe collected his career-high third sack of the day and forced a fumble, which was promptly scooped up by Cam Trimble on UM’s 27.
Three plays later, Gilliam scampered four yards into the end zone to push the Aggies’ lead to 35-21.
If the crowd of 24,141 was not already stunned, one could only imagine how the Montana faithful felt after redshirt freshman human development major Devon King intercepted a Dalton Sneed pass — the first of his career — and was tackled six yards later to set up another Aggie scoring drive deep in Grizzly territory.
For the second time in as many drives, UC Davis scored off a UM turnover; this time, it was a quarterback sneak that added another six points to the scoreboard for the Aggies — in addition to another extra point from O’Rourke.
Within 14:40 of game time, the Aggies turned a 21-3 deficit into a 42-21 lead, an advantage that quickly grew to 28 after Maier connected with redshirt freshman economics major Carson Crawford, on a possession that began with another interception from King.
Thanks to UC Davis’ flawless second half, it earned the program’s inaugural victory versus Montana, extended its win streak to a Division I record five games and remain in sole possession of first place atop the Big Sky standings thanks to its 49-21 result.
UC Davis will return home for next weekend’s game vs. Northern Arizona with a 7-1 overall and 5-0 conference records, another pair of records for the best start in the program’s D-I era.
Since 1986 when Washington-Grizzly Stadium opened, Montana only lost 31 games. After suffering defeat No. 32 to the Aggies, the Grizzlies will continue their season with records of 4-4 and 2-3.
Game highlights are available on the team’s Twitter feed, @UCDfootball.
Starting with its Nov. 3 home game vs. Northern Arizona, Aggie Stadium will host two of football’s final three home games. This is UC Davis’ first game on its own turf since Oct. 13 when fans enjoyed a thrilling come-from-behind overtime victory, and the second since its Sept. 22 Big Sky opener.