MISSOULA — As Troy Andersen dove to intercept a pass, Montana State suddenly appeared to have a chance to keep its winning streak against its rival alive.
The Bobcats were trailing by 16 points, but with the pick from Andersen, they had an opportunity to cut the lead to one possession.
But the offense sputtered again. The Bobcats lined up for a field goal and attempted a fake, but the ball ended up in the hands of Montana’s Justin Ford. He bolted for a touchdown.
The Bobcats’ recent dominance in the historic ’Cat-Griz rivalry ended with the 120th edition of the matchup. The No. 7-ranked Grizzlies (9-2, 6-2) defeated No. 3 Montana State (9-2, 6-1) 29-10 on Saturday at Washington-Grizzly Stadium.
The Grizzlies lead the series 73-41-5. They won the game for the first time since 2015. Former MSU head coach Jeff Choate led the Bobcats to four straight victories after that.
UM’s win snapped Montana State’s nine-game winning streak. The Bobcats were previously undefeated against FCS foes. The FCS playoff field will be announced Sunday, but even with the regular season-ending defeat, the Bobcats will likely still receive a first-round bye.
The Grizzlies, some seniors eager to beat the Bobcats for the first time, were in control from the beginning. Cam Humphrey found Junior Bergen open in the middle of the field which resulted in a 74-yard touchdown on just the second play from scrimmage.
Humphrey’s strike to Bergen, a Billings Senior graduate who signed with MSU but chose to go to Montana after Choate left for Texas, gave the Grizzlies a 7-0 lead just 48 seconds into the game. The pressure of the moment seemed even heavier less than a minute earlier before kickoff.
The Bobcats’ offense was out of rhythm early. They mustered just 88 yards before intermission with 23 yards on 4 of 10 passing attempts. They went three and out on three of their first six drives.
The Bobcats’ lone score of the first half followed a seven-play, 44-yard drive, leading to a 35-yard field goal by Blake Glessner. But even that was marred with back-to-back false starts, making a third and short a third and long.
Meanwhile, the Grizzlies totaled 236 yards in the opening two quarters. They punted just once following their seven first-half drives, but not all of them ended in their favor.
Early in the second frame, the Grizzlies went for it on fourth down. But Andersen went untouched on a blitz to bring Humphrey down on a sack in Bobcats territory. ON UM’s next drive, Bobcats safety Jeffrey Manning Jr. intercepted Humphrey to give MSU the ball at its own 7.
MSU’s defense kept the Grizzlies out of the end zone for a while after the Bergen touchdown. But Humphrey consistently found open receivers and finished 13 of 22 for 220 yards and one touchdown with two picks.
He helped the Grizzlies get within field goal position often. Kevin Macias made 5 of 5 field goals, including a 50-yarder in the third quarter.
The Bobcats intercepted two passes in the third quarter, but neither ended up being consequential.
MSU cornerback Simeon Woodard caught a pass from Humphrey, but the play was negated due to a penalty. Late in the third frame, Andersen dove for a pick, giving the MSU offense the ball back at UM’s 31.
But all it led to was more points for the Grizzlies. Ford’s 56-yard recovery and touchdown gave UM a 23-point lead.
From that point on, the Bobcats still couldn’t sustain drives. Matthew McKay found Nate Stewart for a 20-yard touchdown with under a minute left, but it wan’t enough. The Bobcats ended up with 204 total yards.
And after the final seconds of the game expired, Grizzlies players bolted for a corner of the stadium to pick up the Great Divide Trophy for the first time in half a decade.