MISSOULA, Mont. — Brady Gustafson found another target, threw for another 415 yards and the Montana Grizzlies beat Southern Utah 43-20 on Saturday.
Gustafson completed 27 of 50 passes, with one interception. He used his usual targets like Jerry Louie-McGee, who had nine catches and 118 yards. Then he found new ones like James Homan, who came into Saturday with two catches but finished the game with six passes for 103 yards.
Homan’s 3-yard reception put the Grizzlies (3-1, 1-1 Big Sky) up 9-7 early. Scoring strikes of 28 yards to John Nguyen, 43 to Justin Calhoun and 10 to Josh Horner fueled a 27-point burst that put Montana in command.
“We’re still trying to find those guys,” Montana coach Bob Stitt said. “All our receivers are new to us. You don’t know when it’s crunch time who’s going to come through. That’s what we’re trying to find. We’re starting to get a better idea of who those guys are now.”
The offense, 627 yards worth, came from all over. Nguyen’s touchdown put Montana ahead for good, 15-14, with 6:59 left in the second quarter. Horner’s score put the Grizzlies up 29-14 early in the second half.
Jeremy Calhoun’s first of two scoring runs, covering eight yards, made it 36-14 midway through the third quarter. He finished with 90 rushing yards, 45 coming on a final burst that made it 43-20 with 1:40 remaining.
Justin Calhoun’s TD covered 43 yards, and gave Montana a 22-14 lead with 16 seconds left in the first half.
Homan, a junior college transfer, teamed with Louis-McGee to turn short routes into nice gains.
“I just came out and played my game,” Homan said. “I trust my coaches and my offense, and I knew we were going to get it done. No nerves there. The corners kind of bailed real fast, so we’d run little short routes and catch the ball and get up field.”
Southern Utah (2-2, 1-1) took leads of 7-3 and 14-9 on touchdown passes from Patrick Tyler to Mike Sharp. Sharp ended up with three scoring receptions, giving him 19 since the start of the 2015 season.
Tyler threw for 169 yards for the Thunderbirds, completing 16 of 41 passes. Southern Utah running back Malik Brown ran for 114 yards.
Nguyen rushed for 87 yards for the Griz, who shook off a 42-41 loss at Cal Poly last week. Montana also punted five times and had three turnovers in what turned out to be a dominant offensive performance in its homecoming game.
“You think back last year late, when Brady came back (from injury) against Eastern Washington and the Cats, those were pretty good games,” Stitt said. “As far as feeling like you’re really having your way with them – we haven’t really had that feeling very many times.”
SOUTHERN UTAH: The Thunderbirds faltered late in the first half against a strong pass rush by Montana, and couldn’t contain the hosts’ passing game.
MONTANA: The Grizzlies, ranked No. 11 in the Football Championship Subdivision, piled up 627 yards of offense.
SOUTHERN UTAH: The Thunderbirds return to Cedar City to face Big Sky foe UC Davis Saturday at 6 p.m. Mountain.
MONTANA: The Grizzlies stay home, facing Mississippi Valley State in a non-league game Saturday at 2:30 p.m.