MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — A wild fourth quarter ended with a timeout, then a fumble, and Montana State pushed past Montana 29-25 in the 118th Brawl of the Wild game Saturday.
Senior running back Logan Jones' 13-yard touchdown with 2:19 left proved to be the difference for Montana State, which trailed 22-0 in the first half. The ensuing kickoff was returned to midfield by Montana's Malik Flowers to ensure a tense finish.
The Grizzlies drove to the 1-yard line and appeared to get a go-ahead scoring run from Adam Eastwood, before it was waived off because MSU coach Jeff Choate called time out.
With 12 seconds left, Montana lined up for the same play and Eastwood lost the ball on a hit by MSU's Tucker Yates. Derek Marks recovered for the Bobcats (7-4, 5-3 Big Sky Conference).
"Quite honestly, just processing this - it's probably not going to hit me for a while," said Choate, who is now 3-0 in his MSU career against the Grizzlies. "There's a lot that happened in that fourth quarter, and some of it seems like a blur."
Jones' touchdown, off an option pitch, came a few moments after Montana State forced a fumble by Montana quarterback Dalton Sneed and Grant Collins recovered for MSU.
It was the first turnover of the game, but MSU already had momentum.
After Montana drove to a 34-yard Tim Semenza field goal and a 25-15 lead with 7:46 left in the game, sophomore quarterback Troy Andersen quickly guided the Bobcats 75 yards, capped by his third short scoring run. The gap was 25-22 with 6:01 remaining.
Anderson scored his first TD with 23 seconds left in the first half, capping another long drive and taking some starch out of the record crowd of 26,508 at Washington-Grizzly Stadium.
"That was huge," Choate said. "Going in down 22-0 would have been pretty much all uphill sledding the second half."
"A little bit early we just got out of sorts," said Andersen, who ran for 107 yards and threw for 158 more. "The moment was a little bit big for us, but we kind of got settled down and started doing our jobs."
Montana (6-5, 4-4) came out strong, scoring on its first drive. Sneed, who threw for 354 yards, shoveled a 1-yard scoring pass to Gabe Sulser on a "fly sweep" to put the Grizzlies up 7-0.
The lead grew to 14-0 at 13:30 of the second quarter, when Eastwood capped a 58-yard drive with a 1-yard run. After a rare short punt by MSU's Jered Padmos left Montana with a short field, Sneed found Samuel Akem with a 37-yard scoring pass at 8:15 of the second quarter.
Holder Reid Miller ran in the 2-point conversion for the 22-0 lead.
Then the Grizzlies, who squandered leads in home losses to Portland State and UC Davis, began to falter. A win would have kept their slim Football Championship Subdivision playoff hopes alive. Montana State will learn if it made the 24-team p layoff field Sunday.
"Good job by them sticking with it and finding a way to get the W," said Bobby Hauck, in his first year back as head coach of the Grizzlies. "And shame on us for not winning it.
"There's a lot of ways to not find a way to win, and this is particularly gut-wrenching."
Montana State's defense held up while Montana repeatedly drove into MSU territory. Semenza missed a field goal in the third quarter. Semenza's 34-yarder came after Sneed converted third-and-long passes covering 20, 18 and 29 yards. Then the drive stalled.
"I think our quarterback's a special player. I really do," Hauck said of Sneed, who completed 22 of 34 passes. "He made some great throws. Some guys made some great catches, too, obviously."
Akem had six catches for 147 yards, while Keenan Curran had eight receptions for 111 yards.
Travis Jones caught 11 passes for 101 yards, including a 45-yarder ahead of Andersen's second TD.
"I have a ton of respect for the University of Montana and that group of young men and how they played today," Choate said. "And of course I'm extremely proud of my team. We were down 22-0 in a hostile enviromment. I tell you what, the people of Montana should be proud of both of these teams."
Montana State: The Bobcats forced two second-half fumbles to forge a lead and seal the outcome after trailing 22-7 at halftime. It was their third straight win in the series.
Montana: The Grizzlies led 22-0 midway through the second quarter but foundered offensively and seemed to tire against the running and throwing of MSU quarterback Andersen.
Montana State: The Bobcats will learn Sunday if they get an at-large berth in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision playoffs.
Montana: The Grizzlies will miss the FCS playoffs for a third straight year, coinciding with three straight losses in this intrastate rivalry. Montana leads the rivalry 73-40-5.