MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — Jordan Johnson completed his first 12 passes of the game and threw for two touchdowns as Montana and a stifling defense downed Appalachian State, 30-6, in the season opener for both teams Saturday night.
Johnson, seeing his first action after missing all of last season while dealing with legal issues, completed 19-of-23 passes for 251 yards in front of a record crowd of 26,293 in the first regular season night game ever played at Washington-Grizzly Stadium.
"I just prepared the same way I always prepare," Johnson said. "I've played football for a long time."
Travon Van, a transfer from Marshall, also looked good in his Grizzly debut, carrying the ball 20 times for 118 yards and a touchdown and Jordan Canada ran 25 times for 112 yards and a touchdown as the Grizzlies rushed for 246 yards in the game.
"This is a really special start," said Montana coach Mick Delaney. "Seeing us run the football down their throat — a team that's going to be an FBS school next year — is so gratifying."
Delaney was also quick to praise his defense for its effort in the win.
"On defense we had 11 guys just swarming to the ball," he said.
Montana's defense thwarted the Mountaineers all night, holding them to a pair of Drew Stewart field goals. Safety Bo Tully led the way with two key third-quarter turnovers, recovering a Kameron Bryant fumble at the Montana 1-yard line with 3:30 to play in the quarter and picking off a Bryant pass at the Appalachian State 43-yard line on the next Mountaineer series.
"Turnovers are huge," Tully said. "They were kind of driving and that first fumble recovery changed the momentum of the game."
Touchdowns by Canada on a 1-yard run with 13:13 to play in the game and Jordan Harper on an 11-yard pass from Johnson with 9:23 to go iced the game for Montana.
Montana kept the Mountaineers out of the end zone in the first half, taking a 16-3 lead into the locker room.