Montana saw plenty of opportunities to be competitive against Tennessee in the form of six Volunteers fumbles. The Grizzlies just couldn’t seem to grab any of them.
Montana managed to give the bigger, faster Volunteers some trouble at the line of scrimmage, but not enough to escape a 42-16 victory by Tennessee on Saturday night at Knoxville, Tenn.
“We should have got every one of those fumbles,” Grizzlies safety Mike McCord said. “It really didn’t bounce our way.”
The Grizzlies got their lone score in the first half when Jordan Johnson connected with Jabin Sambrano on an 80-yard pass play, burning Tennessee true freshman Justin Coleman on the route. The score cut the Vols’ lead to 28-7 with 3:49 left.
The TD play was Sambrano’s only catch of the night, but the 80 yards led Montana’s receivers.
The Grizzlies pinned a punt by their own Sean Winn at the Tennessee 1-yard line, and Ben Hughes downed Tauren Poole in the end zone for a safety that cut Tennessee’s margin to 28-9 with 12:45 in the third quarter.
That was as close as Montana would get as Art Evans picked off Johnson two plays later and returned the ball 37 yards for a TD that put the Vols up 35-9.
Johnson finished 19 of 36 for 226 yards and a TD.
Lindenwood 22, Northern Colorado 20: James Neal kicked a 21-yard field goal as time expired, and the Lions of the NAIA stunned the Bears at Greeley, Colo.
Portland State 52, Southern Oregon 0: Cory McCaffrey ran for three first-quarter touchdowns and quarterback Connor Kavanaugh added another scoring run in the opening period as the Vikings cruised past the visiting NAIA Raiders in an opener for both teams.
Wyoming 35, Weber State 32: Brett Smith threw a touchdown pass to Robert Herron with 22 seconds left to lift Cowboys to a victory over the Wildcats in a season opener in Laramie, Wyo.
Mike Hoke led Weber State, passing for 304 yards and two touchdowns.
Josh Booker rushed for 117 yards and a score.