Injuries peak as Montana withdraws from FCS playoffs
HARRISONBURG, Va .– Injuries have been a storyline throughout the season for the Montana Grizzly football team, and on Friday night in the FCS quarterfinal at Bridgeforth Stadium in Harrisonburg, Va., Those injuries caught up with Grizzlies as they lost a pair of key players early on their way to losing to James Madison University and ending their season at 10-3.
A week after equaling Marc Mariani’s career by receiving a record UM touchdown record, Griz forward Samuel Akem was injured in the game’s first practice after a 35-yard catch, and is reportedly slinging on the touches the rest of the game and would not return.
Photos: Montana Grizzlies fall to James Madison
Then, early in the second quarter, disaster struck again, as quarterback Cam Humphrey was hit hard in a scrum and would not return, leaving Montana without two of its top executives on offense.
“We kind of took it on the offensive line and we just thought we had to be able to run the ball effectively and get a few yards and we did it towards the end but not well enough,” said right tackle Dylan Cook mentioned.
Humphrey left the game after completing 7 of 12 passes for 88 yards. Kris Brown took over at QB from there but struggled, being only one-on-five and was sacked once, so third-string QB Robbie Patterson took the reins in the second half. .
Patterson, a red-shirted sophomore from Medford, Oregon who started his college football career at Saddleback Community College, has had few minutes this year but has still shown his talent a few times as a double threat QB. He finished 7 for 17 passing for 44 yards but threw two interceptions, however, he ran for 65 yards, but UM’s offense couldn’t find the end zone.
“Outstanding play from Robbie Patterson,” Cook said. “He came in with few reps this season and came in and led the attack on two pretty good practices, he just couldn’t close them, but kudos to him.”
Montana’s defense, which had three sacks and forced two turnovers, helped keep the Griz in the game. After Humphrey left the game with the Griz down 7-3, Jace Lewis forced a fumble which was recovered by Patrick O’Connell, but UM was unable to convert it to points. A few drives later, JMU totaled 96 yards on four plays, capped by a 50-yard touchdown by Latrele Palmer to bring the score to 14-3 Dukes. It was the second long touchdown of the day at that point after Cole Johnson’s 82-yard connection with Devin Ravenel in the first quarter, and Montana never recovered.
UM was also without defensive end Joe Babros, adding to a mountain of health issues the team have faced this season, particularly on the defensive line and in running back and quarterback positions. And on Friday night, those injuries became too difficult to overcome against a team with the pedigree and talent of James Madison.
“We have a very competitive squad and you get to the point where, we have a pretty young team to start, and when you start losing guys you get younger and younger and eventually against that level of competition it takes its toll. balance sheet, “Griz coach Bobby Hauck said. “Playing a very good opponent is difficult for guys who haven’t played a lot or who are so young to come and play.
“Everything is difficult in this program, we are a bit used to adversity and we take it as a challenge with a smile on our face because we see it as another chance to step up and show who we are”, a added Cook.