Seattle, WA – The Washington Huskies entered the 2021 season with high hopes and unfinished business.
With a core group of returning starters on both sides of the ball and plenty of optimism surrounding second-year head coach Jimmy Lake, Washington fans hoped to see the squad display the same momentum generated in their 3-1 Pac-12 North Title run in 2020 during this year’s opener at home.
Enter the Montana Grizzlies.
A perennial FCS powerhouse, the Grizzlies still came into this one as significant underdogs. Their lone victory over Washington came back in 1920, and few believed they could tally their second against the defensively loaded Huskies of 2021.
Both teams displayed stout defense throughout the night, holding each other under 300 total yards and allowing a single touchdown apiece.
In such a tight contest, mistakes were critical.
A missed field goal in the second quarter by the Huskies certainly would have given them more to work with later on, but turnovers would ultimately seal Washington’s fate.
Huskies quarterback Dylan Morris gave his team a 7-0 lead with a first-quarter rushing touchdown before giving away three interceptions on the night, including the final dagger to Montana’s Marcus Welnel with 31 seconds to play.
Minus the turnovers, both quarterbacks performed fairly well. Morris ended with 226 yards on 27-of-46 attempts, while Montana’s Cam Humphrey earned 105 yards through the air on 12-of-23 attempts.
The Grizzlies’ rushing attack was split between Xavier Harris and Isiah Childs, earning 73 and 41 yards on the ground, respectively. For Washington, it was Richard Newton leading the attack with 69 yards on 17 carries.
Humphrey gave the Grizzlies their lone touchdown with a 4-yard diving scramble early in the fourth quarter to go along with a first-half field goal and the go-ahead kick from Kevin Macias with a minute and a half remaining.
With the win, the Grizzlies became just the 5th FCS team to defeat a ranked FBS opponent and the first to do so since 2016. They will look to carry the well-earned momentum into week two against Western Illinois back in Missoula.
The Huskies, on the other hand, will need to regroup quickly. They travel to the Big House next week to take on Jim Harbaugh’s Michigan Wolverines.