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Grizzlies, Bobcats capsules for Sept. 24

by FRITZ NEIGHBOR
Daily Inter Lake | September 23, 2022 12:00 AM

Portland St. at No. 2 Montana

When: Saturday, 2 p.m.; TV — KPAX; Web — ESPN+; Radio — Grizzly Radio Network.

Where: Washington-Grizzly Stadium (25,217, FieldTurf)

Records: Montana is 3-0, Portland St. is 0-2.

When the Grizzlies have the ball: Lucas Johnson has the best passing efficiency mark in the Big Sky Conference at 161.4; he has thrown for 638 yards with a .675 completion percentage, eight touchdowns and one interception. Johnson is the leading Griz rusher with 152 yards, but Nick Ostmo had a solid game in last week’s 49-14 win at Indiana St., and is up to 128. Mitch Roberts and Junior Bergen have combined for five receiving TDs, but Aaron Fontes had the biggest game last week and tight end Cole Grossman is always open (18.7 yards a catch)

When the Vikings have the ball: Dante Chachere has taken the QB reins from the graduated Davis Alexander, and has thrown for 320 yards in two games, with two picks and two TDs. The rub is that both of PSU’s opponents are FBS: San Jose State (the Spartans won 21-17) and Washington (Huskies, 52-6). The Vikings outgained SJSU 395-288, and Chachere threw for 270 of those yards. He is the top rusher as well, with senior Jalynee McGree being next. Beau Kelly is the top receiver with 11 catches for 150 yards after his all-Big Sky 2021 season of 59 catches, 981 yards and 10 TDs.

Notable: Bruce Barnum is 26-45 in his 8th season as PSU’s head coach. His son Cooper is listed as a sophomore safety for UM (No. 40). It’s the Big Sky opener for both teams. With true freshman Patrick Rohrbach (Glacier) handling the duties, the Griz are second in the Big Sky in net punting (40.3 yards). Portland State is first at 42.5. Montana leads the series 32-13, with the last PSU win coming in 2018, 22-20 at Wa-Griz. The Grizzlies are No. 2 in both the STATS Perform (media) and FCS Coaches polls, but No. 1 according to cbssports.com writer Emory Hunt. The Griz average 11.4 yards a catch on offense, and on defense have allowed an average of 7.9. The Vikings’ Anthony Adams has been All-America at both safety and corner.

The Pick: Griz 29-17.

No. 4 Montana St. at No. 15 E. Washington.

When: Saturday 2 p.m., TV — CW; Web — ESPN+; Radio — Bobcat Radio Network, msubobcats.com.

Where: Roos Field, Cheney, Wash (8,600, AstroTurf)

Records: MSU is 2-1. EWU is 1-1.

When the Bobcats have the ball: Butte’s Tommy Mellott starts at quarterback but shares time with Sean Chambers, whose three rushing TDs against Oregon State last week gave him a Big Sky-best seven. Mellott, meanwhile, ran for 136 yards on 18 carries against the Beavers and an average of 9.42 yards per pass attempt leads the Big Sky. Elijah Elliott is slated to start at tailback with Garrett Coon as his backup, but Elliot had two carries against OSU and Coon didn’t play. Ravi Alston and Willie Patterson are the go-to receivers, and Patterson has half of MSU’s six TD catches.

When the Eagles have the ball: Sixth-year senior QB Gunner Talkington earned Big Sky player of the week honors after throwing for 348 yards in a season-opening 36-29 win over Tennessee State. He’s the team’s top rusher with 82 yards. Talkington stands 5-foot-10 but has filled the shoes of Walter Payton Award winner Eric Barriere nicely. No Eagle has scored on the ground, and six different receivers have combined to catch seven TDs. Efton Chism III leads with two, and caught the game-winner against Tennessee State. He was a preseason all-Big Sky selection, second-team. Teammate Freddie Roberson (9 catches, 124 yards, 1 TD) was first-team..

Notable: Aaron Best is 42-18 in his sixth season at EWU. Eastern lost at Oregon 70-14 last week, while the Cats were losing at Oregon State 68-28. The Bobcats’ 23-20 win over the Eagles last season was their first on EWU’s red turf since 2011, and stopped a seven-game losing streak in the series. Isaiah Ifanse, who isn’t expected to play Saturday, had 217 rushing yards for the Cats in that game. Eastern leads the series 32-11. Marqui Johnson’s 98-kickoff return for a TD against Oregon State was MSU’s first since 2015. The Cats have one four straight Big Sky Conference openers. If MSU forces a turnover Saturday, it will be its first takeaway in seven games.

The Pick: Cats, 23-20.

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