This Saturday I had a first! Never before until yesterday had I worked an overtime football game in intercollegiate athletics. Well, it happened. When things looked very bleak for the Griz football team, the heart and pride of our student-athletes shined brightly as ever as a comeback occurred.
With a little over two minutes left, Cal Poly lined up to kick a chip shot field goal from the nine yard line. This would have iced the game with the Mustangs already leading 14-7. The snap and hold were good but the kick never had a chance as Jordan Tripp, the leader on defense, stormed through the line and blocked the kick.
Quarterback Jordan Johnson then engineered a 90 yard drive that ended in a touchdown on a fourth down and then came an ensuing game tying kick. Cal Poly couldn’t return the kickoff with just a few seconds left in regulation and overtime it was!
Now I had never worked an overtime game before so Brynn and I had a quick “what now?” type moment but that faded very quickly and we just went with it. I silenced the music so the fans could hear the overtime directions/coin toss from the referee and it was on! Cal Poly won the toss and as is custom in a Kansas City tiebreaker format they chose to go on defense first. However, the defense that seemed to keep the Griz at bay for 58 minutes of the game was no longer on the field and it took just two plays for a touchdown reception by Ellis Henderson to put Montana up.
After the extra point went through the uprights it was pandemonium in Washington-Grizzly Stadium as the almost 26,000 fans went nuts as Cal Poly came out for its turn on offense. The noise in the stadium was absolutely crazy and it hit an all-time high when our marketing intern/captain/amazing football player/player of the game/great person Brock Coyle hauled down a spectacular interception to end the game and start a dog pile in the north end zone. It was an absolute emotional swing from one end to the other.
It was an interesting and fun game to be part of. Our Pink Game gets bigger and bigger each year. This season’s game saw us have our team come through the stands with area cancer survivors, a change to the traditional tunnel entrance that up until yesterday hadn’t been touched in years. The players had a pink touch to their helmets, we showed a very emotional video prior to the game, and Team Up Montana had a great day in front of the biggest gathering in the state.
Also making the game special were a couple things that happened after Montana clinched the win. In a total surprise, I got to talk to my high school football coach for the first time since I last played for him in 2005! I went down on the field after the game and right away I spotted Mead High School head football coach Sean Carty standing by the player’s tunnel. He was there watching Bo Tully, a former Mead Panther who Carty had coached. It just so happened that it was the first ever game he had watched in Washington-Grizzly Stadium. He said it was an awesome experience, even after attending games at Notre Dame and Michigan. Then, I got to introduce my parents to our athletic director, Kent Haslam. It was special just in the fact that my parents were able to attend the game…I never even thought about the opportunity about getting to introduce them to the big boss of Grizzly Athletics. But it happened just about five minutes after I talked to Coach Carty. Not a bad post-game if you ask me.
So even with the Pink Game festivities, even with getting to see my old high school coach, and even with my parents getting to meet our athletic director, the memory that was most special for me on October 19 was the final 15 minutes of the Montana football team’s comeback win. To observe the heart and passion shown by our guys was really cool. I won’t forget it anytime soon. I am so thankful to be a Griz. Don’t Blink.