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
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
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
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
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
"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.