No. 15 Montana looked like the perennial FCS power it has been for the past few decades on Saturday night at the Alerus Center, posting a 55-17 victory over North Dakota in what was a non-conference game between the two Big Sky members.
The Griz improved to 2-0 and are quickly putting what was their first losing season since 1986 behind them. Montana went 5-6 last season with one of those setbacks coming at the hands of UND on the same field they amassed 609 yards of total offense tonight.
Having quarterback Jordan Johnson back was a big reason for the quick turnaround as he went 15-for-19 for 354 yards and five passing touchdowns in the win. Three of those came in the first quarter when the Griz put the game away.
UND (1-2) scored on its opening possession for the third straight game to quickly move ahead 7-0, but the offense had trouble finding a rhythm after Blair Townsend hauled in a 15-yard strike from Joe Mollberg.
Johnson responded with scoring passes of 70, 52 and 35 on its next three drives to help UM build a 20-7 advantage.
Mollberg finished the day 25-of-43 with a pair of touchdowns and two interceptions, but the redshirt freshman could only guide his squad to three more points before halftime as the Green and White went into the locker room trailing 33-10.
After a 32-yard run by Jordan Canada on UM's opening drive of the third quarter put the visitors ahead 40-10, sophomore Kenny Golladay scored on a 23-yard pass from Mollberg, but those would be the last points of the night for UND.
Golladay logged his second straight 100-yard receiving game with seven catches for 106 yards, while classmate Jameer Jackson led UND with nine catches for 86 yards. All-American Greg Hardin was held below the century mark in yardage for the first time this season, netting 46 yards on five grabs. The senior set a Big Sky single-game record with 333 receiving yards against the Griz last season.
Johnson led an efficient Griz offense that did not punt until its final drive of the game and was 9-for-10 on third-down conversion. He set a Big Sky single-game record for pass efficiency at 322.3.
UND would go 11-for-19 on third-down conversions, but had two drives end in turnovers and the Griz forced freshman Mitch Meindel to punt four times.
Griz receiver Ellis Henderson led his squad with five catches for 124 yards and three touchdowns.