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Montana Makes Playoffs on a Pass

November 22, 1998| From Staff and Wire Reports

Brian Ah Yat's 18-yard touchdown pass to Dallas Neil with 5:21 left gave Montana a 28-21 victory over Montana State in the rain Saturday at Missoula, Mont., and hours later the Grizzlies learned they won the Big Sky Conference championship.

Montana (8-3, 6-2 in conference play) finished a game ahead of Montana State (7-4, 5-3) and Cal State Northridge (7-4, 5-3), which was upset by last-place Idaho State, 32-29, on Saturday night.

The Grizzlies, who beat their instate rivals for the 13th consecutive time, earned the Big Sky's berth in the NCAA Division I-AA playoffs and left the Bobcats hoping for an at-large berth when the pairings are announced today.

Had Northridge won, the Matadors would have shared the title and earned the Big Sky berth and left Montana hoping for an all-large spot.

"The second half was a real strange half of football," said Mick Dennehy, Montana coach. "Both teams started slow, then they kind of kicked it in gear and woke us up. Then we kind of kicked it in gear and got the [winning] touchdown.

"I thought the thing might boil down to a field goal, and in those [muddy] conditions, that was really scary."

Montana (8-3, 6-2 in conference play) trailed, 21-20, when Adam Boomer recovered a fumble by quarterback Rob Compson of Montana State (7-4, 5-3).

Ah Yat, who completed 26 of 49 passes for 288 yards and four touchdowns, hit Neil for the winning touchdown on the next play and added a two-point conversion pass to Nate Sanders.

"Dallas, I got to be honest, surprised me," said Ah Yat, who was celebrating 23rd birthday. "He made a great play, kept his feet in bounds in all that mud. When he saw that end zone, he just jetted for it."

Cornerback Chris Colvin broke up two passes to help halt Montana State's final drive.

Compson completed 16 of 36 passes for 177 yards and a 19-yard touchdown pass to Oscar Caballero that gave the Bobcats a 21-14 lead with 9:58 left in the third quarter.

Ah Yat, who threw touchdown passes of 16 yards to Raul Pacheco and 25 yards to Travis Walker in a 14-14 first half, hit Jeremy Watkins for a 10-yard score with 33 seconds left in the third quarter but the extra point failed.

Southern Utah 43, E. Washington 21--Clint Brown's 65-yard punt return for a touchdown broke a 14-14 tie in the second quarter and the Thunderbirds scored 22 consecutive points in a nonconference game at Cedar City, Utah.

Rod Madsen ran for 234 yards and two touchdowns and Matt Cannon rushed for 204 yards and a touchdown for the Thunderbirds (5-6), who rushed for a school-record 535 yards in 69 carries.

Mike MacKenzie of Eastern Washington (5-6) rushed for 220 yards and two touchdowns, including a 71-yard run.

Northeast Louisiana 43, Portland State 27--Andre Vige passed for 258 yards and five touchdowns, three to Marty Booker, for the Indians at Monroe, La.

Northeast (5-6), leading the nation in forcing turnovers, recovered two fumbles by Portland State (5-6) and turned three pass interceptions against quarterback Tyson Parsons into 24 points.

Pat Dennis had two of the interceptions and tied the Indians' single-season record with 15.

Booker caught 10 passes for 147 yards and ended his career with 178 receptions for 2,784 yards--both second on Northeast Louisiana's all-time list.

Portland State led, 13-10, following a seven-yard touchdown pass from Parsons to Jim Craft with 6:16 left in the second quarter. Not two minutes later, Vige connected with Tony Akins on a 45-yard touchdown pass play and the Indians never trailed again.

Portland managed 521 yards of offense, with Charles Dunn rushing 24 times for 136 yards.

Parsons completed 26 of 50 passes for 382 yards and three touchdowns.

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