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Sunday, December 5, 2021

Montana Stuns The Huskies, 13-7

By Khalid Bennett, The Seattle Medium

The University of Washington Huskies kicked off the 2021 regular season on Saturday afternoon with spectators present at Alaska Airlines Field at Husky Stadium for an early non-conference match up against the Grizzlies of Montana. The energy from the tens of thousands of fans had not been felt in this building for over a year. With high expectations this season, it would be critical for Washington to show their dominance before conference play begins.

Washington had a strong showing in the PAC-12 north last season before Covid-19 complications ended their conference championship campaign abruptly and eventually ending their season.

Washington jumped out to a fast start, taking the first drive down the field with ease. The Huskies went 9 plays and 78 yards in 4:51 capped off by a Dylan Morris touchdown plunge from 1 yard out to put the Huskies up 7-0.

Not intimidated at all by Washington’s ability to move the ball down the field, Montana put together a promising drive of their own, highlighted by a 38-yard run by freshman running back Xavier Harris but the Husky defense stopped Montana and held them to just a field goal making the score 7-3 Washington.

The Griz seemed to come alive on defense stopping Washington on a 4th and long situation to get the ball back into the hands of their offense and shutting down the Huskies’ scoring opportunity. The Husky defense was able to keep Montana to minimal yards through the air in the first quarter. Offensively, the Huskies struggled moving the ball on the ground. Sophomore running back Richard Newton was unable to get anything going seemingly moving backwards with runs for losses more than any substantial gains.

The second quarter was a lot of the same with both teams engaged in a field position battle as neither offense was able to find a rhythm. Montana was able to get the first takeaway in the ballgame as Dylan Morris was intercepted late in the second quarter, but the Griz were still unable to capitalize thanks to some air tight defense by Washington. The Huskies would take a 7-3 halftime lead into the locker room.

After a lackluster first half rushing the football, Washington put more emphasis on getting their running game going with some consistency. The Husky offense started going right at the Montana defense in an attempt to wear them down. They were able to set up some play action pass plays that gave the Huskies some momentum but it all came to a halt when Dylan Morris threw his second interception of the day late in the quarter off a tipped pass attempt to tight end Cade Otton. The score would remain 7-3 Washington at the end of the third quarter.

Montana quickly moved into the red zone thanks to a screen pass from quarterback Cam Humphrey to Xavier Harris that put Montana on the doorstep of the end zone. Harris, who had been huge for the Grizzlies throughout the game, left with an injury after that play but that didn’t stop Montana from punching it in to give them a 10-7 lead in the fourth quarter.

The momentum in the game clearly shifted to the visitors from Montana. A stunned Washington football team tried to match the intensity of their opponents but offensively just couldn’t produce any chunk plays and failed to move the chains, which had plagued them all evening. The Griz added a field goal to extend their lead to 13-7 with time running out on the Huskies. Washington with one more chance to try and salvage a victory, but came up short after Dylan Morris threw his third interception of the day with just 31 seconds remaining sealing the upset victory for Montana as the beat Washington in the season opening game 13-7.

Washington will be on the road next week to face the Michigan Wolverines.

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