McDowell, defense lead Montana to 37-7 win over rival Montana State

MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — Clifton McDowell threw for a touchdown and ran for another and Montana routed rival Montana State 37-7 on Saturday in a showdown for the Big Sky Conference championship.

The Grizzlies (10-1, 7-1) entered the 122nd Brawl of the Wild ranked fourth in the FCS coaches poll and the Bobcats (8-3, 6-2) were third. Montana leads the series 74-42-5 but the previous 10 games were split evenly. It is the 19th league title for Montana but first since 2009.

The Grizzlies kept the momentum from their six-straight wins entering the game, three over ranked teams on the road, and a defense that limited their last three opponents to 17 points.

Eli Gillman capped a game-opening drive with a 4-yard touchdown run and McDowell entered the second with another 4-yard run.

The Grizzlies got a second field goal on the last play of the second quarter to lead 20-0 at the half.

Montana State, which won last year's game 55-21, got on the board with a 19-yard pass from Tommy Mellott to Ty McCullouch to open the second half. It was the Bobcats first passing yards of the game.

The Grizzlies came right back with Junior Bergen's 49-yard kickoff return and six plays later his 20-yard TD reception to make it 27-7.

MSU's next three drives ended on downs twice and an interception. In all, the Bobcats failed on fourth down four times and were 1 for 10 on third down.

McDowell was 17-of-22 passing for 200 yards and added 69 yards on the ground as the Grizzlies piled up 430 yards.

Mellott ran for 108 yards and Julius Davis had 107 with only 67 of Montana State's 280 yards coming through the air.

With second-ranked Furman losing, Montana could be the No. 2 seed behind defending champion South Dakota State (11-0) when the FCS pairings are announced Sunday.

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