MISSOULA, Mont. Marc Mariani caught four touchdown passes Saturday to lead Montana to a 46-10 non-conference football victory over Southern Utah.
Mariani, who tied a school record for most touchdown catches in a game, finished with eight receptions for 208 yards to propel the Grizzlies to a 2-0 record on the season. Southern Utah fell to 1-2 with the loss.
"You dream of games like this," Mariani said.
The Grizzlies got four touchdown passes from backup quarterback Andrew Selle and two interceptions from true freshman cornerback Trumaine Johnson as they won their home opener in front of a stadium-record crowd of 25,056.
"All the credit goes to the University of Montana," said Southern Utah coach Ed Lamb. "They played a fantastic football game and took advantage of every mistake we made."
Montana's offense sputtered in a scoreless first quarter as freshman kicker Russell Schey had a 24-yard field goal attempt blocked and badly missed another three-point try from 47 yards.
Southern Utah "came in with a couple of completely different looks that took us some time to get a handle on," Montana coach Bobby Hauck said.
The Grizzlies first got on the board with 8:07 to play in the second quarter when Schey's 30-yard field goal try was partially blocked but still deflected through the upright. Montana struck again with 6:51 to play in the half when Cole Bergquist connected with Mariani on a 14-yard touchdown pass to put the Grizzlies up 10-0, and the rout was on.
On the Grizzlies' next possession, Bergquist hooked up with Mariani again on a 66-yard touchdown pass to give Montana a 17-0 lead with 5:23 left in the half. Bergquist was injured on the play and did not return for the rest of the game.
With 42 seconds to play before halftime, Selle hit Jabin Sambrano with a 15-year scoring pass. Schey's point after attempt failed and the Grizzlies took a 23-0 lead to the locker room.
Selle hit Mariani with a 32-yard touchdown pass on the Grizzlies' first drive of the second half. Receiver Mike Ferriter's point after try failed, giving Montana a 29-0 lead with 12:12 to play in the third quarter.
Ferriter was good on his next kicking attempt, a 27-yard field goal, giving Montana a 32-0 lead with 6:03 left in the third quarter.
In the fourth quarter, Selle connected with Rob Schulte on a 14-yard scoring play to put the Grizzlies up 39-0 with 13:26 left in the game.
The Thunderbirds finally got on the board with 11:46 to play when Cody Stone hit Tysson Poots with a 19-yard touchdown pass to cut the Grizzlies' margin to 39-7.
Southern Utah made it 39-10 with 9:40 left in the game on a Steve Pulver 42-yard field goal.
Mariani closed out the scoring with his fourth touchdown pass of the day on a 36-yard toss from Selle with 7:09 to play.
Montana's defense recorded six sacks on the day and was led by defensive linemen Austin Mullins with 10 tackles.
Southern Utah's defense was paced by linebacker DJ Senter, who recorded 17 tackles and an interception.