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In the driver's seat

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In the driver's seat
A Cub Scout troop from Lolo launches a pumpkin from its trebuchet - a type of catapult - at the Pumpkin' Chunkin' contest at Fort Missoula on Saturday. The contest featured an array of machines, some more successful than others.
TOM BAUER/Missoulian

HILLSBORO, Ore. - There's a Grizzly at the wheel of Big Sky Conference football again.

No. 4 Montana leaped into the driver's seat Saturday with a 33-21 victory over eighth-ranked Portland State in a long-awaited Division I-AA showdown.

On a wet and windy afternoon in a high school stadium west of Portland, Grizzly running back Yo Humphery returned from a nagging pull of his left hamstring. Humphery turned the corner around left end on UM's first drive and sprinted 22 yards to the Vikings' 2-yard line to set up a touchdown.

UM athletic trainer J.C. Weida approached head coach Joe Glenn on the sideline.

"You can play Yo the whole game, Joe," Weida said.

"J.C. looked like a proud papa," Glenn reported with a wide grin.

Humphery ran and ran - a school-record 37 times. He gained 194 yards, fourth most in modern UM history, and moved into third place on the school career rushing list with three games left in his junior season.

"It felt real good," Humphery said of the hamstring. "The coaches and everybody were really on me about keeping it warm throughout the game so it didn't get tight on me. It seemed to work."

Sophomore quarterback John Edwards filled in for the injured Drew Miller and kept the ship afloat. Two of his passes went for touchdowns to senior Jimmy Farris, whose career is dotted with big games against the Vikings.

Montana's defense, decimated by Jimmy Blanchard's 550 yards passing in a 51-48 overtime loss last year in Portland, held Blanchard to less than half that this time. The Grizzlies kept record-breaking senior tailback Charles Dunn under 50 yards for the first time since his freshman year.

Humphery wasn't the only Grizzly on the rebound. His backup, Ben Drinkwalter, returned from a shoulder injury, and left guard Thatcher Szalay was back up front after missing a game.

Guard Leif Thorsen and defensive linemen Corey Mertes and Justin Klein didn't play, but they're almost ready, and Miller's return appears imminent.

Three games remain on the Grizzly schedule, two of them at home, starting Saturday against Idaho State.

By winning just one more, Montana can earn at least a share of its sixth Big Sky title in eight years.

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