HILLSBORO, Ore. — Samori Toure had a homecoming to remember on Saturday against Portland State.
The Portland native had a career-high three touchdown catches, two of which came during the second-half rally as he and the eighth-ranked Montana Grizzlies used big plays to erase a halftime deficit and earn a 38-23 win.
Toure finished with seven catches for a game-high 140 yards in front of 20 friends and family members who came to see the Grizzly standout play at Portland State for the final time against the team that didn’t even recruit him coming out of high school.
“I’d be lying to say there wasn’t a little something there,” Toure said of having added motivation coming into the game.
“I’m glad we could pull out the win because I got to give some respect to Portland State because they fought throughout the game. They didn’t really give up. Ultimately, as a team, we just stayed with the plan, we just stayed with it and kept putting on pressure all game and we never gave up.”
Things went to plan for Toure and Montana as the win provided a measure of redemption for the Griz, who fumbled away a win against Portland State last year in Missoula. Adding to the challenge, they pulled out the win without injured quarterback Dalton Sneed, who sat out for the second consecutive week despite warming up in full pads.
Backup Cam Humphrey took the reins of the offense again and helped Montana outgain Portland State 464-321 to flex on the flex defense. He and the Griz receivers exploited Portland State’s secondary, collecting six passing plays of 15 or more yards.
“They’re in man (defense) a lot,” Montana coach Bobby Hauck said. “A lot of it was press, and we didn’t have to go win down the field. That was their plan, and we knew that was a possibility that’s how they could choose to play us. When they did, we hit enough of them to make them pay.”
Toure’s three touchdown catches went for 41, 42 and 6 yards. He had never caught more than one touchdown in a single game in his career.
“We knew it was a matchup-type of game,” Toure said. “That’s what we kept saying coming into it: it’s a matchup game — not just for receivers but for our whole offense and defense. They’re going to put a man in front of you and the game’s going to come down to who can make the plays. We were just able to make those plays and come out with the win.”
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Humphrey was an efficient 21-of-28 passing for 335 yards and four touchdowns as he got enough time in the pocket despite being sacked five times. His first three touchdowns went to Toure, and his fourth one was a 76-yarder to Sammy Akem to put Montana up 35-23 on the first play of the fourth quarter.
"The O-line played their butts off," Humphrey said. "We really put it on them this week. They had that flex front, so they had five guys sitting on the line all the time. The O-line really took it on them to protect me, and they did a hell of a job, played their guts out."
Humphrey’s second strike to Toure, on a double move, gave Montana the lead for good, 21-17, in the third quarter. The Griz erased a 17-14 halftime deficit by outscoring the Vikings 24-6 in the second half as the defense held Portland State quarterback Davis Alexander to 20-of-39 passing for 278 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.
“Going into the game, we knew we had matchups,” Humphrey said. “They run a lot of man-free coverage. We knew we were going to be manned up on the outside. We knew we were going to have those matchups. We knew that we were going to win those matchups because we have some of the best receivers in the league.”
Montana running back Marcus Knight started the barrage of big plays with a 45-yard touchdown run, aided by a Toure block, to give the Griz a 7-0 lead on the second drive of the game. It was one of three Montana runs that went for 10 or more yards.
Things turned ugly as Montana lost two first-half fumbles, which resulted in 14 points for Portland State. The Griz had lost just four fumbles through their first eight games.
The Vikings converted a punt return fumble by Jerry Louie-McGee into a 6-yard touchdown run by Alexander to tie the game, 7-7. The Griz had stopped the Vikings earlier in the drive, but linebacker Jace Lewis was called for unsportsmanlike conduct after a third-down sack, which extended the drive.
Portland State turned a strip-sack fumble by Humphrey into a 40-yard pass from Alexander to Mataio Talalemotu. That put the Griz down 17-14 after one half, which included a missed 35-yard field goal by Montana kicker Brandon Purdy.
“You never want that to happen, but it kind of fueled the fire,” Humphrey said of his fumble. “We came out that second half exploding. We were ready to go. I think that definitely fueled the fire.”