D-day

Montana's offense won't get a chance to redeem itself for more than three months.

The offense will have to spend the summer with the bitter memories of its performance Saturday in the Grizzlies' final spring football scrimmage at Washington-Grizzly Stadium.

The Griz defense, however, gets to spend the summer months knowing it dominated what should be one of the most explosive units in Division I-AA football next season.

Montana's defense tallied eight sacks, returned an interception for a touchdown, made eight tackles for losses and held the running game to just 26 yards on 15 carries in the 60-play affair.

Senior quarterback Drew Miller completed just 8 of 18 passes for 87 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Miller and the No. 1 offense went head-to-head with the No. 1 defense for six series and didn't score until the last two. John Edwards and Nick Walker split time directing the No. 2 offense, which scored on just one of six series.

"It's frustrating," Miller admitted. "Shoot, I can't even tell you how many plays they backed off and didn't bring anybody. It wasn't very many. We did some good things and there are things we can improve on."

"The defense brought a lot of pressure and did a great job with the pressure," said Montana coach Joe Glenn. "We didn't handle it very well. It's obvious that any time you go against yourself, one side does good and the other side concerns you. I'll take the high road and say hats off to our defense. I thought they played great today."

Coach Mike Breske's defensive unit brought heat from all areas of the field. Eight different players got to the quarterback, including a safety, a cornerback and four defensive tackles.

"This is the best we've every performed against the offense," said senior linebacker Adam Boomer. "This is fun. I think we're really starting to jell in our coverages and where we're supposed to be. We've got a great scheme going."

More often than not, Miller called plays at the line of scrimmage. The defense knows many of the offense's audible calls and reacted quickly to where the plays were going.

"There was a lot of scheming going on today," Glenn said. "I'm not into scheming in spring ball. We should probably just go line up and play. We probably shouldn't be checking and calling so many audibles in spring football."

"Obviously, they are picking up a lot of our checks," Miller said. "I'm out there calling a certain audible and the entire defense is yelling screen. That's part of the problem. Not to take anything away from the defense, because they had a helluva day. They are going to absolutely dominate next season."

Cornerback Calvin Coleman scored the first touchdown of the scrimmage when he intercepted a tipped ball in the end zone and raced 105 yards along the near sideline for a score.

Edwards got the offense on the board when he completed a 2-yard TD pass to receiver Randyn Akiona.

Receiver Brock Sunderland scored the only touchdown for the first-team offense, a 22-yard pass reception from Miller. Miller hit Sunderland on a cross at the 10-yard line and Sunderland made a nice run to get in the end zone.

Miller capped his last drive with a 24-yard field goal.

"I'd like to walk away thinking we've got a helluva defense," Glenn said. "They are doing a great job with the pressure package. Yet, at the same time, I'm hopeful we'll get better on offense. We've got some work to do."

€ Sidelines: Starting running back Yo Humphery suffered a minor injury to his lower back early in the scrimmage. He caught one pass for four yards and didn't carry the ball. … Reserve linebacker Chris Connors sustained a sprained left ankle late in the day. He left the field on crutches and a boot on the foot. … Kamakana Kaimuloa, UM's starting right tackle the last two seasons, started the scrimmage at left tackle. Freshman Jon Skinner started at right tackle. Kaimuloa went back to right tackle for the rest of the scrimmage and Brian Pelc played on the left side. … Five players who signed with the Grizzlies in February where at the scrimmage and were introduced to the crowd at halftime. Those in attendance were safety David DeCoite (Truckee, Calif.), offensive lineman Beau Hart (Lake Oswego, Ore.), defensive lineman Blake Horgan (Spokane), tight end Conor Molloy (Helena) and defensive end Ciche Pitcher (Anaconda). … The Griz open their season Sept. 2 at home against Hofstra.

Scoring plays

Calvin Coleman 105 interception return

Randyn Akoina 2 pass from John Edwards

Brock Sunderland 22 pass from Drew Miller

FG - Drew Miller 24

Individual leaders

RUSHING - Derryl Williams 6-21, Ben Drinkwalter 8-5.

PASSING - Miller 8-18-1-89, Edwards 4-11-0-53, Nick Walker 3-6-0-5.

RECEIVING - Sunderland 3-42, John Fitzgerald 2-24, Etu Molden 2-17, T.J. Oelkers 2-17.,

(Jon Kasper can be reached at 523-5247 or at jkasper@missoulian.com)

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