MACOMB, Ill. – How do you sum this one up?
A fast start for Western Illinois. A furious finish for the Leathernecks. And domination, really, by the Montana Grizzlies for the other 54 minutes. Still, in the end, on the road, not enough for Montana.
“Wild game,” lamented Griz coach Bobby Hauck afterward. “We’re pretty disappointed to let that one slip from our grasp. The tendency will be to point to the last couple minutes of the game and certainly we had a chance to close it out and didn’t do that. Being down 14-0 about a minute into the game I thought our guys were pretty dialed in and fighting their way back in. And actually, being in control of that thing was impressive to me. I just wish we would’ve hung on.”
Normally outspoken Griz receiver Samuel Akem, who finished with seven catches for 64 yards and two touchdowns, struggled to find words after the loss.
“We just did what we knew how to do, but we didn’t finish,” he said.
Saturday’s thrilling win for Western Illinois marked the first for head coach Jared Elliott.
“I haven’t caught my breath yet,” Elliott said. “This is a very special moment for me, my first as a head coach. Man, I’ve got so much respect for coach Hauck. He’s going to be a Hall-of-Famer. We were fortunate enough to make a couple more plays at the end of it there.”
Mid-September, middle of Illinois, high heat and humidity. Time to towel off and get back to work. That’s exactly what the Griz will do next week back at home.