MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — Montana came up with some big plays on special teams and offense Saturday afternoon in its 34-14 win over Liberty. But it was the defense that drew the most praise from Coach Mick Delaney.
"Anytime you go out and stop a team from being able to run the ball, you should do well," Delaney said. "I'm really proud of our defense, especially in the first half. They were just tenacious and got some key turnovers."
Peter Nguyen ran a punt back 90 yards for a touchdown as Montana improved to 2-1 on the season. Liberty, of the Big South Conference, fell to 0-3.
"I'm a little disappointed," said Liberty coach Turner Gill. "I thought we would be able to run the ball a little better."
The Montana defense held the Flames to 21 yards rushing and harassed quarterback Josh Woodrum all afternoon -- sacking him five times.
After a slow opening 10 minutes, Nguyen brought the crowd to its feet with an electrifying jaunt down the left side of the field to give Montana a 7-0 lead.
"I had a lot of space and time to think," Nguyen said. "And there was great blocking. The whole punt return team was really excited to get one."
The Grizzlies tacked on another 17 points before halftime on a 32-yard run by Dan Moore, a 6-yard run by Trent McKinney and a 42-yard field goal by Chris Lider.