MISSOULA, Mont. - The University of Northern Iowa football team fell to the Montana Grizzlies in the 2011 NCAA FCS quarterfinals at Washington-Grizzly Stadium, 48-10.
The Grizzlies (11-2 overall) advance to the FCS semifinals where they will play the winner of the Sam Houston State-Montana State. UNI finishes the 2011 season with a 10-3 record.
UNI opened the scoring on its second possession of the game as the Panthers went 56 yards in five plays and scored on a 27-yard touchdown pass from Tirrell Rennie to Jarred Herring.
Montana tied the game at 7-7 on a one-yard TD run by Jordan Canada. Canada's run capped a nine-play, 39-yard drive, which was set up by a 24-yard punt return by Jabin Sambrano. Canada's TD came with 0:06 left in the first quarter.
The Grizzlies took a 14-7 advantage on a 6-yard TD run by quarterback Jordan Johnson with 10:50 left in the second quarter. Johnson kept the drive alive earlier by completing a 26-yard pass to Sam Gratton on a 3rd and 20 from the Montana 35-yard line.
UNI trimmed the lead to 14-10 on a 21-yard field goal with 8:22 left in the second quarter. The Panthers marched the ball deep into Montana territory courtesy a 63-yard run by David Johnson. The 63-yard run by Johnson was the longest run of the season by the Panthers.
However, that would be the final points of the night for the Panthers. Montana would score the final 34 points on the night.
Montana opened up an 11-point lead at 21-10 after a 10-yard touchdown run by Peter Nguyen with 4:26 left in the second quarter.
The Griz extended the lead to 28-10 with 0:30 left in the half when Johnson threw a 5-yard TD pass to Kavario Middleton. The Griz started the drive following a 30-yard punt return by Sambrano.
Montana came out in the third quarter and drove 62 yards in eight plays to take a 35-10 lead over the Panthers. The Griz scoring play came on an 8-yard pass from Johnson to Gratton. The Griz's 25-point lead came with 12:09 left in the third quarter.
The Grizzlies proceeded to run up the score with a 25-yard TD pass from Johnson to Gratton with 10:43 left in the fourth quarter. The Griz did miss the extra point to lead 41-10.
Montana added to the Panthers' pain when defensive back Donny Lisowski returned an interception 35 yards for a touchdown with 8:56 left in the game. The pick-6 gave the Griz a 48-10 lead.
UNI's David Johnson rushed four times for a team-high 68 yards. Rennie threw for 93 yards and a touchdown. Herring caught a team-high five passes for 67 yards and a touchdown. L.J. Fort led the Panthers' defensive effort with 17 tackles. Garrett Scott added 12 stops and Ben Boothby chipped in with 11 tackles.
NOTES: UNI is 19-16 in the FCS playoffs all-time ... Herring's TD reception in the first quarter was his 18th career touchdown reception ... Herring is tied for No. 9 all-time at UNI with Alonzo Clayton (1994-97) in touchdown receptions ... UNI's L.J. Fort set the single-season tackles record for the Panthers in the contest with 184 tackles on the year ... Fort finishes his career ranked No. 5 on the Panthers' all-time tackles list with 356 tackles ... the 38-point loss matches the largest losing margin in head coach Mark Farley's era (38-0 at Montana in 2001 playoffs).