MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — Nothing has come easy for Montana this season. But on Saturday, the Grizzlies made it look simple, handing Idaho State a 70-24 beating.
"We've had some tough (times), lost some tough football games decided in the last quarter, the last couple minutes," said Montana coach Mick Delaney. "But our young guys are learning faster and faster because they see how hard the veterans work."
Montana (4-5, 2-4 Big Sky), which hasn't had a losing season since 1985, entered the game having dropped four of its past five games and with only one win in conference play. Saturday's contest, though, was never in doubt.
Shay Smithwick-Hann, making his first collegiate start, threw three touchdown passes to pace Montana. Smithwick-Hann was 14 of 21 for 205 yards, with two interceptions. Joey Counts and Brett Kirschner each scored twice as seven different Montana players found the end zone.
"Offensively we ran the ball well, and that opens up the passing game," Smithwick-Hann said. "And a lot of credit has to go to our offensive line."
Montana scored on its first two possessions of the game with a 9-yard Jordan Canada run and a 17-yard pass from Smithwick-Hann to Sam Gratton. The Grizzlies continued to roll through the first half, scoring four more touchdowns, including a 50-yard run by Peter Nguyen and an 80-yard fumble return by Jordan Tripp, to take a 42-10 halftime lead.
Montana racked up 605 yards of total offense and ran for 379 yards. Nguyen led all rushers with 107 yards.
"Our biggest issue defensively has been the run game, and we couldn't slow them down today," said associate head coach Don Bailey, who filled in while Mike Kramer served a one-game suspension.
In the second half, the Grizzlies added three more third-quarter touchdowns before turning to reserve players for the final quarter.
Kevin Yost was 36 of 56 for 323 yards and three scores for the Bengals (1-7, 0-5), and Rodrick Rumble led all receivers with 102 yards.
Delaney lauded the play of his defense.
"All around on defense, we played very well," Delaney said. "It's a little easier to cover when you get pressure on the quarterback."
The Grizzlies recorded six sacks, including four from freshman defensive end Tyrone Holmes.