VERMILLION, S.D. — The key players and position grades from Montana's 31-17 win over South Dakota on Saturday at the DakotaDome.
The Griz scored on five consecutive drives across the second and third quarters, and the defense pitched a scoreless fourth quarter for just the second time in 12 games since Bobby Hauck returned as the head coach.
Montana players of the game
Offense: Dalton Sneed. The 6-foot-1, 216-pound senior quarterback from Scottsdale, Arizona, threw for a career-high 430 yards, completing 37 of 52 pass attempts with three touchdowns and two interceptions.
Defense: Robby Hauck. The 5-foot-10, 185-pound sophomore safety from Missoula, carded a game-high 11 tackles and broke up a pass on fourth-and-2 with South Dakota driving into Montana's territory in the fourth quarter.
Special teams: Malik Flowers. The 6-foot-2, 195-pound sophomore receiver from Fontana, California, returned four kickoffs for 116 yards, and average of 29 yards, better than his 27.6 that led the Big Sky Conference last season.
Dalton Sneed threw for a career-high 430 yards with the help of his receivers gobbling up yards after catch on short and intermediate routes. But he also was picked off two times, including one in the end zone in the fourth quarter.
Running backs/Fullbacks: C-
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The running backs combined for just 58 yards on 14 carries, although South Dakota focused on stopping the run. Adam Eastwood did have three catches for 32 yards and Marcus Knight had two for 21 yards and one touchdown.
Wide receivers/tight ends: A
Sammy Akem caught nine passes for a career-high 158 yards, and Samori Toure had nine receptions for 142 yards. Eight receivers and tight ends combined for 32 catches for 377 yards and two touchdowns.
Offensive line: C+
The group is still a work in progress after a year defined by youth and a lack of depth. They gave Sneed time in the pocket, allowed just two sacks but struggled to get much of a push in the run game as Montana ran 28 times for 80 yards.
Defensive line: B
The defense gave up 106 rushing yards but had just one sack of quarterback Austin Simmons against an O-line with four new starters. Ryder Rice had a sack, Jesse Sims had a TFL and Alex Gubner had a key fourth-down tackle.
Dante Olson had two of the team's five TFLs and was second on the team with eight tackles. Jace Lewis added five tackles and had two of the team's three pass breakups but was also called for roughing the passer.
Defensive backs: B
The secondary gave up 246 passing yards along with some acrobatic catches from receiver Kody Case. Robby Hauck had a game-high 11 tackles, and Justin Calhoun had what proved to be the game-sealing interception.
Special teams: B+
Malik Flowers returned four kickoffs for 116 yards, an average of 29 that topped his 27.6 from last year. Brandon Purdy missed his first field goal of the season but responded to hit his next one as well as all four extra points.