MISSOULA — Running back Travon Van scored four touchdowns on just six touches to lead the University of Montana Grizzlies to a 48-14 win over the visiting Central Washington Wildcats in a non-league contest and UM’s 2014 home opener Saturday afternoon in Washington-Grizzly Stadium.
Van, a senior from San Diego, Calif., scored on touchdown runs of 31, 9, and 43, and also scored on a 85-yard pass reception.
The Grizzlies (1-1) dominated from the out-set, scoring on five of their first six possessions. When Van hauled in the 85-yard pass from quarterback Shay Smithwick-Hann he upped Montana’s lead to 31-7 with four minutes to go in the second quarter.
Montana jumped out to a 24-0 lead on Van’s 9-yard touchdown run with 13:10 to go in the second stanza. The key play in that scoring drive was a 23-yard hoop-up between Smith-Hann and junior receiver Jamaal Jones, and a 44-yard run by senior halfback Jordan Canada.
The Griz scored 17 points in a row in the first quarter, starting with sophomore kicker Harrison Greenberg’s 29 -yard field goal. That was followed by Van’s 31-yard scoring run, and then redshirt freshman linebacker Tucker Schye scooped up a fumble and raced into the end zone for 46 yards out to give UM 17-0 lead with 4:10 to go in the first stanza.
CWU (0-1), a Division II team and member of the Great Northwest Athletic Conference, got on the board with 10:06 remaining in the second quarter on a 13-yard pass from sophomore quarterback Jake Nelson to sophomore wide-out Kent McKinney, making the score 24-7, UM.
Montana put the game out of reach with 22 seconds to go in the third quarter on a 22-yard run by sophomore halfback John Nguyen, which gave the home squad a 48-7 cushion. The Wildcats scored the final points of the game on a 22-yard run by junior running back Jordan Todd.
Canada led the Grizzlies’ potent ground game with 15 carries for 96 yards. Van had just 3 totes for 83 yards, while Nguyen had 7 rushed for 78 yards. Lorenzo Logwood, a true freshman from Oakland, Calif., made his UM debut today, and picked up 36 yards on 7 carries. Montana rushed 38 times for 298 yards and scored four TDs.
Smithwick-Hann, a senior from Kalispell, was an efficient 10-of-16-0 for 145 yards and a TD, and was sacked just once. Smithwick-Hann got the start because fellow senior signal-called Jordan Johnson was unable to play because of an injury.
Van had 3 catches for 70 yards, while Jones had 3 for 58. The Smithwick-Hann to Van 85-yard scoring pass was the fifth longest in school history.
Senior defensive end Zack Wagenman led the stingy Griz defense with 9 tackles and a sack. Junior defensive end Tyrone Holmes had 2.5 tackles for loss. Senior free safety Matt Hermanson had an interception – the sixth of his career. The Griz “D” limited CWU to 56 yards rushing on 31 carries, and had 3 sacks.
Wagenmann now has 23 career sacks, which ties him for sixth on the career list with Lance Spencer (23, 2002-06), while his 32.5 tackles for loss move him up to seventh in school history.
Montana gave up just 273 total yards, and 117 of those came in the fourth quarter when the Griz defense was primarily playing with back-up players. Sixty-seven UM players saw action today.
Nelson was 25-of-37-1 for 217 yards and one score. Excluding his 32-yard TD run, Todd had 14 carries for 27 yards. Senior receiver Greg Logan led CWU with game-highs of 9 catches for 92 yards. The Wildcats’ top tackler was junior safety DeAndre Baines with 9 stops.
Montana is home again next Saturday, Sept. 13, playing the University of South Dakota in a 7 p.m. game in Washington-Grizzly Stadium. CWU is at Western Oregon next Saturday.
— Montana Sports Information