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Montana pulls away from Drake 48-16

September 9, 2018
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Montana wide receiver Samuel Akem tip-toes to a touchdown as Drake defenders look to make a stop in the second half of an NCAA college football game in Missoula, Mont., Saturday, Sept. 8. 2018. (Tommy Martino/The Missoulian via AP)

MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — Drake came up from Iowa intending the handle the crowd, but in the end couldn’t quite bulldog Montana quarterback Dalton Sneed.

Sneed fired two touchdown passes 22 seconds apart and added a scoring run as the Montana Grizzlies pulled away from Drake 48-16 on Saturday.

The junior threw scoring passes covering 13 and 10 yards to Jerry Louie-McGee and Samuel Akem in the final minute of the third quarter. Akem’s touchdown, with 22 seconds left in the quarter, came one play after an interception and 25-yard return by Grizzlies’ safety Reid Miller, and made it 31-10.

Sneed added a 13-yard scramble for a TD with 8:40 left in the game, answering a 3-yard scoring pass from Bulldogs’ quarterback Grant Kraemer. That made it 38-16.

“I think they just wore us down,” Drake coach Rick Fox said. “Their blitz was getting to us all day. We didn’t finish a couple drives and that was big, and then they just wore us out.

“And the quarterback, he’s just a great player. He just does so many things for you.”

Tailback Adam Eastwood added two scoring runs for Montana, including a 37-yard burst as the Grizzlies (2-0) pulled away from a 10-3 halftime lead. Eastwood’s second TD made it 17-3 midway through the third quarter.

After Drake (0-1) cut the lead to 17-10 on a 49-yard Will Warner punt fake, Sneed had his two scoring passes. Sneed was 31 of 47 passing for 278 yards, and was also the Grizzlies’ leading rusher with 65 yards.

“He did a nice job improvising, did a nice job throwing it on time and he did a good job handling somethings,” Montana coach Bobby Hauck said of his quarterback. “There’s a lot of checking (down) going on, and a lot of that is on his shoulders to get us in the right play.”

Drake, a member of the Pioneer League, pushed the Grizzlies behind the play of Kraemer, who threw for 281 yards and a touchdown. Kraemer was also sacked seven times and intercepted twice. The Bulldogs had four second-half turnovers.

After Sneed’s rushing TD, the Grizzlies tacked on a Tim Semenza field goal and a 40-yard interception return by Dareon Nash. Nash picked off a pass by Drake backup Alex Bray to cap the scoring with 3:34 left.

The Grizzlies took the lead for good at 10-3, with a quick 60-yard drive following Danny Donley’s 45-yard field goal for Drake. Eastwood capped the march with a 2-yard touchdown run, at 13:21 of the second quarter. The score stayed that way until halftime.

“We were kind of a circus the first half,” Hauck said. “We didn’t handle things overly well. It was a good job by our guys hanging together.

“They gave a couple fronts and looks we didn’t expect. They’re a veteran, physical team, and I was impressed with them.”

Louie-McGee had 14 catches for 133 yards for Montana, and Akem checked in at eight receptions for 86 yards. Devin Cates had nine catches for 80 yards for Drake, which saw its season opener last week washed out by bad weather midway through the first quarter.

“Our guys handled it as well as well as I imagined,” Fox said of the Bulldogs. “We weren’t sharp, but was it because of last week or was it because of the crowd and the environment and adapting to the situation? I’m not sure.”

Fox was sure the biggest factor was Sneed.

“A guy like that, you think you’ve got him — and then he’s gone,” he said. “And he can do so many things, both throwing the running the football, it’s tough to handle.”

THE TAKEAWAY

Drake: The Bulldogs (0-1) played solidly in their first half of football this season, following the washout of their season opener last week. They fell off the pace as Montana scored 38 second-half points. Drake committed five turnovers, including three interceptions; the turnovers led to 24 points.

Montana: The Grizzlies’ short passing game wore down their opponent, as quarterback Dalton Sneed threw for 278 yards and ran for another 65.

UP NEXT

Drake: The Bulldogs return home to face Missouri S&T on Sept. 15.

Montana: The Grizzlies, ranked No. 14 in the Football Championship Subdivision, head to Western Illinois for a non-conference game on Sept. 15.

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