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Weber State football: Fans make Montana ‘fun place’

SHARE Weber State football: Fans make Montana ‘fun place’

MISSOULA, Mont. — There aren't many college football teams that enjoy a home-field advantage quite like the Montana Grizzlies.

With their 24-13 win over Weber State in the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs, the Grizzlies improved to 9-0 all-time in quarterfinal games at Washington-Grizzly Stadium. Overall, Montana is now 149-20 at home since Washington-Grizzly Stadium opened in 1986.

The place offers a special atmosphere, as thousands of fans tailgate before the games and all of them make a lot of noise during them. They tried to rattle the Wildcats early in Saturday's FCS quarterfinal game and spark their own team.

Weber State coach Ron McBride was taken aback when someone suggested during his postgame interview that the atmosphere had an impact on the game. He said it didn't but admitted that the experience was enjoyable.

"This is a fun place to play," he said. "They've got great fans. It's loud, raucous. This is how football is supposed to be."

The Wildcats say the crowd made Saturday's game more exciting.

"Those are the kind of environments you want to play in," said defensive tackle Derek Johnson. "If you can't get up to play in an environment like that, there's really no reason to be out there."

SMITH RISES TO OCCASION: Weber State running back Trevyn Smith capped his stellar junior season with another remarkable performance. He rushed for 104 yards on 19 carries, and it marked the seventh straight game he rushed for more than 100 yards. He has rushed for more than 100 yards in 20 of his 36 career games.

Smith also clinched his third straight Big Sky rushing title. He finished the season with 28 total touchdowns, tying the conference's single-season record.

MCBRIDE TAKES MONTANA: After splitting with Montana this season, McBride said he believes the Grizzlies will go on to win the FCS national championship.

"We're as good as anybody in (FCS) right now," McBride said. "We could easily win the national championship. These guys (the Grizzlies) probably will. I thought the winner of this game would probably win the national championship."

Several Montana fans stuck around following the Grizzlies' victory over Weber State to watch the James Madison-Villanova game on the video scoreboard at Washington-Grizzly Stadium. They rooted for Villanova to win, but were disappointed when top-ranked James Madison pulled out the victory. The Grizzlies will have to travel to James Madison in Virginia next week when they play in the semifinals for the ninth time.

EXTRA POINTS: Senior linebackers J.D. Folsom and Biff Swan each recorded a total of 12 tackles to lead Weber State's defense. ... Montana running back Chase Reynolds rushed for more than 100 yards in his seventh straight game. ... The Grizzlies have won 10 of their last 11 games against the Wildcats.


E-mail: aaragon@desnews.com