ASU Mountaineers stave off Grizzlies in home opener
Jamie Shell / (firstname.lastname@example.org)
An enthusiastic 30,856 fans, the third-largest crowd in Kidd Brewer Stadium history, saw the two winningest teams since the year 2000 combine for 900 yards of offense and 19 third- and fourth-down conversions in a contest that, much like the two most recent contests between the clubs, came down to the wire.
ASU's offense, which gained 419 yards in total offense but reached the end zone just once in a 35-13 loss to East Carolina the previous week, gained 417 yards against the Grizzlies.
ASU (1-1) forced two of Montana’s three turnovers in the first quarter and converted both gaffes into scores to take a commanding 21-7 lead after just one period. UM roared back with 14 points in the second quarter to send the game to halftime tied at 21-21 and the score remained deadlocked until the final stanza. The Mountaineers regained a 28-21 advantage early in the final quarter when it marched 67 yards in just 1:44. A 32-yard pass from ASU quarterback Jamal Jackson to Sean Price on the drive’s first play and a 25-yard touchdown strike from Jackson to Andrew Peacock accounted for 57 of the 67 yards, with a pivotal Jackson run for a first down on fourth-and-one thrown in to keep the drive alive to set up the go-ahead score.
After the teams traded punts, Montana’s Dan Moore caught a short pass from quarterback Tyler McKinney, broke several tackles and outran the Mountaineers defense for an 87-yard touchdown, drawing the Grizzlies to within one point at 28-27. In a game marked by remarkable plays and playmakers, it was a missed extra point from UM kicker Chris Lider that sailed wide right to allow ASU to maintain a slim one-point margin with 8:54 to play.
ASU appeared energized and intent on protecting and extending its advantage on its ensuing offensive series. ASU put together an 11-play, 78-yard scoring drive, capped by a two-yard touchdown run by Miller, to extend the Mountaineers margin to 35-27 with 5:05 to play.
Thanks to a third-down conversion and two fourth-down conversions, Montana marched into ASU territory. With less than 30 seconds left to play, however, McKinney's deep pass near the end zone was picked off by ASU's Demetrius McCray for his second takeaway of the day.
Jackson led the Mountaineers with 260 passing yards on 24-of-34 passing and 65 yards on 16 rushes while accounting for three touchdowns (two passing, one rushing). Miller ran 27 times for 91 yards and a pair of scores.
ASU takes on The Citadel at Kidd Brewer Stadium to open Southern Conference play this Saturday, Sept. 15. The Bulldogs upset then-No. 3 Georgia Southern 23-21 at home last week.