The University of Montana Grizzlies’ two senior running backs rushed for more than 100 yards each, as the 10th/11th-ranked host Grizzlies defeated the University of South Dakota Coyotes 35-24 in the season opener for the teams Saturday afternoon in front of 25,156 partisan fans in UM’s Washington-Grizzly Stadium.

Dan Moore had career-highs of 27 carries for 148 yards and a touchdown, while fellow UM senior halfback Peter Nguyen had 10 totes for 192 yards and a score. The Grizzlies picked up a school-record 34 first downs in the win.

The Grizzlies (1-0) dominated the Coyotes in total yards (568 to 233) and first downs (34 to 9), but found themselves in an eight point (24-16) deficit mid-way through the third quarter.

Montana led 16-10 at halftime, but the Coyotes, coached by former (2000-02) Griz mentor Joe Glenn, scored back-to-back touchdowns in a little more than a minute to take a 24-16 lead at the 9:47 mark of the third stanza.

On its first play of the third period quarterback Josh Vander Maten hit fellow sophomore Terrance Terry for an 80-yard downtown bomb, giving USD a 17-16 edge. Just a few plays later safety Charlie Goro picked off a Trent McKinney pass and returned it 50 yards for another score to give the visitors the 24-16 advantage.

The Grizzlies quickly regained the momentum, though with a bit of trickery, as on the their next series senior tight end Greg Hardy connected with senior wide receiver Bryce Carver for a 39-yard touchdown, and UM cut the USD lead to 24-22 with 7:11 left in the third.

Two series after Hardy’s first career pass attempt and subsequent TD, the Grizzlies scored back-to-back touchdowns thanks to two straight USD turnovers.

The first USD mistake came when junior linebacker John Kanongata’a picked off a Vander Maten pass and the Griz took possession of the ball on the Coyotes’ 34-yard line. Two runs by Nguyen picked up 20 yards, and then after that Moore broke free for a 14-yard scoring jaunt, and Montana led 28-24 with 4:49 remaining in the third stanza and would lead the rest of the way.

The Griz added an insurance score when sophomore defensive end Tonga Takai recovered a Coyote fumble on the USD 13-yard line. Three plays later Nguyen scored on a 3-yard run with 3:25 left in the third, in what proved to be the final points of the game.

This report courtesy of University of Montana Sports Information.