SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. -- Saturday's game could have its own chapter in the Montana Grizzlies' record book.
The Griz passing attack was in rare form against Cal Poly, not just for the Bob Stitt era but across the 120-year history of Montana football. Quarterback Brady Gustafson and receiver Jerry Louie-McGee each set program records and tied Big Sky Conference ones in the 42-41 loss to Cal Poly.
Gustafson ran a near perfect execution of Stitt's high-passing offense to finish with a record 47 completions on 59 attempts for 418 yards. He sent 21 the way of Louie-McGee, another Griz single-game record for receptions.
"It's great to have a weapon like (Louie-McGee), but you also have to have a quarterback who can find him," head coach Bob Stitt said after the game. "That's the fun thing about playing quarterback in this offense; you have a lot of freedom and (Gustafson) did a great job today."
The pair hooked up 13 times in the first half, putting Louie-McGee on the doorstep of Griz history before the halftime buzzer even sounded. The previous high for completions came in 1997 when Josh Paffhausen hauled in 15 passes from quarterback Darren Rowell in a 35-14 win over St. Mary's.
Louie-McGee reached 16 midway through the third quarter and kept on going. His 21st tied him for the most in Big Sky Conference history with Montana State's David Pandt, who grabbed as many against Eastern Washington in 1985.
It's the most for a UM receiver since Chase Naccarato caught 13 vs. UC Davis last year.
Louie-McGee finished with 155 yards, short of Paffhausen's 175 two decades ago. The breakout star of 2016 did score two touchdowns as he continues to emerge as Gustafson's safety blanket.
"You throw it to him, he's a couple yards in the backfield at times and then like he did today, it turns into a plus-50-yard touchdown," Gustafson said. "The dude, they call him 'Mr. Electric' for good reason."
Gustafson caught up to a record he challenged in last year's game against Cal Poly. The venerable Dave Dickenson stood atop UM's leaderboard -- in most passing categories really -- since 1995 when he completed 43 passes against Idaho. Like Saturday, Dickenson's record day also came in a loss, 55-43.
Dickenson needed 72 attempts to get to so many completions. Gustafson did it and more in 13 fewer tries.
Three quarterbacks have completed 47 passes in league history, Gustafson joining Weber State's Jamie Martin (1991 vs. Idaho State), Northern Arizona's Michael Herrick (2009 vs. Eastern Washington) and Idaho State's Kevin Yost (2011 vs. Northern Colorado).
"Absolutely incredible," Gustafson said of having his name mentioned along side Dickenson, the UM legend "... Credit Jerry and all the other wide outs for coming down with balls. The dudes make so many plays out there making me look good. I really don't do a lot."
Gustafson was 40 of 64 against the Mustangs last season, a 20-19 loss in Missoula. This time out he completed his first 16 passes, believed to be another program record. Cole Bergquist went 13 for 13 in 2007 against Fort Lewis, but UM's record books do not have entries for consecutive completions or number to start a game.
Return of the fly sweep
The play that put coach Stitt on the map showed up twice in Saturday's game. The Griz ran fly sweeps to Louie-McGee and fellow Z receiver Caleb Lyons.
The highlights on Lyons' were two-fold. The play itself covered 12 yards and picked up a first down as Montana was driving for a field goal late in the first quarter. Receiver James Homan also laid a monster block on the pursuing defender to set the edge, a hit so violent it actually took out two would-be tacklers.
The fly sweep features a receiver in motion from one side to the other. He hits the backfield just as the ball is snapped and the quarterback does a one-touch bump to the WR streaking by just behind the center. The play counts as a pass rather than a run like a typical sweep handoff would.
The beauty is if the timing is off and the ball hits the ground, it's an incomplete pass instead of a fumble.
Louie-McGee's sweep was more tame but also more historic. Though the catch and run covered just 3 yards later in the game it gave him 15 receptions for the day, tying the school single-game record.
Mustangs march on
Cal Poly entered Saturday's game unranked in the STATS and FCS coaches' polls. Don't expect that to be the case come Monday morning.
The Mustangs' third straight win over Montana in the past three seasons is also Cal Poly's second in two weeks over top-10 competition. Last week the 'Stangs topped South Dakota State, at the time the No. 9 team in the country, on the road before toppling No. 6 Montana back at the comfort of Spanos Stadium.
Poly also took FBS Nevada to overtime in its season opener and entered the Grizzly encounter severely underrated by linebacker Connor Strahm's estimation.
"That's a great team. Cal Poly is gonna surprise people down the road if they stay healthy," Strahm said.