7:30 PM ET, December 8, 2006
Washington Grizzly, Missoula, MT
MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) -- Steve Baylark scored two touchdowns in the first half and Massachusetts controlled the clock in the second half in the Minutemen's 19-17 victory over Montana on Friday night in the NCAA Division I-AA semifinals.
Baylark ran for 169 yards, caught five passes for 76 yards and had 12 carries in the fourth quarter to help keep Montana's offense off the field.
"They did a nice job of controlling the game," Montana coach Bobby Hauck said. "We had the ball only 9 minutes in the second half."
Third-ranked UMass (13-1) advanced to the championship game against the winner of Saturday's semifinal between top-ranked and defending national champion Appalachian State and fourth-seeded Youngstown State. The Minutemen take a 12-game winning streak into the title game next Friday night in Chattanooga, Tenn.
"I've never experienced anything like this in my life," said UMass defensive back James Ihedigbo. "We're going to Chattanooga."
No. 2 Montana (12-2), which fell to 5-1 in home semifinal games, saw its 12-game winning streak come to an end.
Montana scored all 17 of its points in the second quarter -- a 23-yard field goal by Dan Carpenter, a 58-yard interception return by Muckie Foreman and capped a 2-minute drill with a 1-yard TD run by Brady Green with 10 seconds left in the half.
But the Minutemen, who haven't given up a point in the second half of their three playoff games, held the Grizzlies to just 67 yards in the final 30 minutes.
"We're not artistic," UMass coach Don Brown said. "We just find a way to win. Holding them to 67 yards in the second half was big."
Baylark ran for 56 yards on the opening drive, including a 35-yard TD run with 12:10 left in the first quarter. He caught three passes for 57 yards on a drive that finished with his 6-yard TD run as the Minutemen took a 14-10 lead with 8:33 left in the half.
Montana's final drive of the half started on their own 12 with 2:24 remaining. Josh Swogger completed five passes for 86 yards, including a 29-yard pass play to Craig Chambers that gave the Grizzlies a first-and-goal at the 1 with 19 seconds left. Two plays later, Green's TD gave the Grizzlies a 17-14 lead.
UMass cut it to 17-16 on a safety with 1:26 left in the third quarter. Montana had the ball third-and-8 on its own 10 when Domenique Milton forced Swogger to fumble and the ball rolled through the end zone.
On the ensuing drive, Chris Koepplin kicked a 43-yard field goal to give the Minutemen a 19-17 lead.
Swogger's pass was intercepted on Montana's next possession and the Minutemen ran 4 minutes off the clock before Kyle Ryan intercepted Liam Coen's pass with 8:10 remaining.
The Grizzlies went four-and-out and UMass took over with 6:39 remaining. Baylark had seven carries for 35 yards in a drive that ended with a missed 46-yard field goal with 47 seconds left.
The Grizzlies had the ball on their own 29 with 47 seconds left, but Swogger's first pass was intercepted by Brandon Smith, sealing the win.
"I thought it was going to be one of these down-to-the-wire scenarios," Brown said.
Hauck said even if the Grizzlies had been able to score on that final drive, "it would have been an escape act, because they controlled the game."
UMass had 460 yards in total offense -- more than Montana had given up in its previous two playoff games combined. The Minutemen controlled ball for two-thirds of the game.
"We couldn't get off the field there at the end when we needed to," said Montana defensive end Dustin Dlouhy.
Liam Coen completed 21 of 33 passes for 234 yards while Swogger was 15-of-31 for 167 yards. Both threw two interceptions.
Rob Schulte caught six passes for 57 yards for the Grizzlies. Baylark was the leading receiver for UMass.
Colt Anderson led the Grizzlies with 14 tackles while Charles Walker had nine stops for UMass.