Montana 17, Cal Poly-SLO 14

Updated: October 4, 2003, 9:06 PM ET

MISSOULA, Mont. -- Craig Ochs probably played more than his coach wanted him to -- and a lot more than Cal Poly would have preferred -- as he sparked Montana to a 17-14 victory Saturday in his debut as a Griz.

"We knew we weren't going to play Craig very much," said Montana coach Bobby Hauck. "He probably played two more series than we planned."

Ochs, the Colorado transfer who missed the first four games with an ankle injury, passed for 168 yards and a touchdown and led Montana (4-1) on all three of its scoring drives as he shared playing time with freshmen quarterbacks Justin Hartman and Kyle Samson. The other junior quarterback, Jeff Disney, was out with ankle and rib injuries.

"This is a dream come true for me," said Ochs, who credited the offensive line with protecting him from any further injury. "I was a little rusty. You can't replicate game speed in practice."

Montana, ranked eighth in NCAA Division I-AA, trailed 14-10 after Geno Randle scored his second rushing touchdown for No. 20 Cal Poly (3-2) with 5:40 left in the third quarter.

Ochs played in the second and fourth quarters and led Montana on the game-winning drive from the Cal Poly 34 early in the fourth.

Ochs completed an 8-yard pass to Jefferson Heidelberger on a third-and-9 play to give UM the ball fourth-and-1 on Cal Poly's 5.

The Griz set up for a field goal but holder Dane Oliver took the snap and flipped the ball between his legs to kicker Chris Snyder, who ran 2 yards for the first down.

"I saw the linebacker coming at me and my eyes lit up and I thought, 'Oh, I don't know if I can get this guy. He's pretty big," Snyder said. "But I just lowered my head and went at his knees and I was able to get some push. He wasn't able to get a solid hit on me."

On the next play, running back Lex Hilliard took a direct snap and ran 3 yards up the middle for a Montana TD with 13:25 remaining.

"I lined up at the quarterback position," said Hilliard, a freshman who rushed for 57 yards. "I've never done that before."

Cal Poly had the ball three more times in the fourth quarter, but was unable to move any closer than the Montana 41.

"There were four to six times we were one first down from being in scoring position," said Cal Poly coach Rich Ellerson. "We were doing enough things well to have a chance, but we couldn't get it done. We didn't come to play hard and be close. We came to win, so we're disappointed."

After punting with 3:41 left, the Mustangs couldn't stop Montana from running out the clock.

Justin Green, who rushed 25 times for 99 yards, ran for 25 yards on a third-and-11 play in the final seconds. Ochs took a knee on the game's final play.

Both teams struggled offensively in the first quarter and Cal Poly scored first on an 11-yard run by Randle with 5:51 left in the half.

Ochs led Montana's first scoring drive, which ended with a 25-yard field goal by Snyder with 2:58 left in the half.

Cal Poly was forced to punt on its next possession, and Ochs completed 6-of-8 passes for 80 yards, including a 5-yard TD pass to Willie Walden, to give Montana a 10-7 lead with 37 seconds left in the half.

"On the touchdown pass to Walden, I threw an awful ball, but he just made a great catch."

Randle rushed for 117 yards, including the 4-yard TD run in the third quarter, to lead Cal Poly while Chris Peterson completed 13 of 26 passes for 160 yards for the Mustangs.

"We had numerous opportunities on the option to score and make big plays, but we were always one block or one fumble away," said Randle.

This story is from's automated news wire. Wire index