SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Montana lost its first Big Sky Conference game and now has to hope it hasn’t also lost its star quarterback for too long.
Fifth-year senior Dalton Sneed left the game Saturday during the third quarter and didn’t return in the Grizzlies’ 49-22 loss to Sacramento State at Hornet Stadium.
Montana coach Bobby Hauck didn’t have an update on Sneed immediately after the game.
“I don’t,” he said, standing behind the south end zone.
On Sunday, Hauck reportedly said during the filming of the Grizzly Sports Report that he "expects to be without QB Dalton Sneed this week against Eastern Washington," according to a report from ABC/Fox Montana. The tweet mentioning that was later deleted.
The Griz trailed 42-15 when Sneed went down with an apparent right ankle injury with 4:43 left in the third quarter. He was tackled after completing a pass and stayed down on the field as athletic trainers attended to him.
Sneed had been sacked one play earlier to start the drive, the fourth and final time the normally elusive quarterback was unable to escape the Hornets’ pressure. Montana was without starting left guard Angel Villanueva against the league’s best sack team.
The 6-foot-1, 216-pound Sneed hobbled off the field without being able to put much pressure on his right leg. He had a bag of ice wrapped around his right ankle and stood on the sideline using a pair of black crutches that he was still on when the team left the stadium.
“It’s hard,” Montana senior linebacker Dante Olson said of seeing Sneed go down. “He’s tough, though. I’m assuming he’ll be back. I love the dude. ... He’s a great player, great leader. Hoping that he’s going to be all right.”
Sneed has been playing at a conference MVP-caliber level and had won three consecutive Big Sky offensive player of the week awards going into the bye last week. He came into the game against Sacramento State averaging 346.3 yards of total offense per game with 15 touchdown passes, four interceptions and four rushing touchdowns.
Against the Hornets, Sneed finished 15-of-25 passing for 140 yards with two interceptions and ran seven times for 18 yards with one touchdown. Cam Humphrey replaced Sneed and completed 7 of 15 passes for 105 yards. Humphrey picked up 9 yards on two runs but was sacked twice for a net rushing total of minus-2 yards.
“I thought he was fine,” Hauck said of Humphrey, a junior who’s in his second year as Sneed’s backup after beginning college at Boise State and then going the junior college route. Humphrey took the majority of reps during fall camp and drew rave reviews from Sneed.
Humphrey has completed 13 of 30 passes for 182 yards with one touchdown and has run seven times for minus-3 yards in six games this season. Last year, he was 13-of-24 passing for 241 yards and two touchdowns in six games, and he ran three times for minus-21 yards.
“I am confident in all our guys,” Hauck said when asked about his confidence level in Humphrey if does have to take over for Sneed.
Aside from his play on the field, Sneed is a main vocal leader on the team. He remained on the sideline, encouraging his teammates.
“He’s a good team guy. He likes his teammates,” Hauck said.
As for Sneed’s message to the team: “He just encouraged the guys and encouraged Cam,” Olson said. “That’s all we can do.
“Cam’s a very capable quarterback. Whatever happens, I trust the coaches, trust the offense to get done what needs to be done.”
The key players and position grades from Montana's 49-22 loss at Sacramento State.
Montana gave up 403 passing yards, quarterback Dalton Sneed threw two interceptions and left with an apparent right leg injury, and the Griz gave up six sacks. The Griz trailed 35-15 at the half and were down by as many as 27 points, on two occasions.
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Montana players of the game
Offense: Jerry Louie-McGee. The 5-foot-9, 171-pound senior wide receiver from Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, scored on a 64-yard end-around to give Montana a 7-0 lead on the opening drive of the game. Louie-McGee’s 69 rushing yards were the most by a player on either team.
Defense: Jace Lewis. The 6-foot-1, 230-pound junior linebacker from Townsend, Montana, led all players with 17 total tackles, including 10 of the solo variety. Lewis had two of Montana’s seven tackles for loss, was the lone Griz with multiple TFLs and recovered a fumble.
Special teams: Matthew O’Donoghue. The 6-foot-1, 250-pound junior long snapper from Santa Ana, California, caught a 2-point conversion pass from Mitch Roberts. It’s O’Donoghue’s second career 2-point conversion and his first this season.
Dalton Sneed completed 15 of 25 passes for 140 yards with two INTs. He ran seven times for 18 yards, including a touchdown run in which he broke two potential tackles. When he left, backup Cam Humphrey was 7-of-15 passing for 105 yards and ran four times for minus-2 yards.
Running backs/Fullbacks: D+
Montana’s RBs weren’t much of a threat to Sacramento State’s defense. Marcus Knight was the lone running back to tally any stats. He ran 11 times for 61 yards, 32 of which came on a touchdown run with the game out of reach. Knight caught five passes for 28 yards.
Wide receivers/tight ends: C-
Sammy Akem led all Griz with 99 receiving yards but dropped a potential go-ahead TD in the second quarter. Samori Toure had a pass go off his hands and get intercepted. Jerry Louie-McGee led all rushers with 69 yards, including a 64-yard TD run with good blocking down field.
Offensive line: D
The group looked more like the 2018 one, allowing six sacks and eight TFLs. Kordell Pillans made his first start at left guard in place of Angel Villanueva. Sneed was forced out of the pocket to throw or run. Aside from JLM’s 64-yard run, the Griz had 82 rush yards on 23 carries.
Defensive line: D+
Lacked a consistent pass rush and gave Kevin Thomson ample time in pocket to accrue 419 yards of offense and six TDs. Braydon Deming was the first non-FBS player to sack Thomson. Milton Mamula added a strip sack. Alex Gubner INT. Ryder Rice dropped an INT. Four TFLs. Five penalties for 40 yards
Jace Lewis led all players with 17 tackles, had two of Montana seven TFLs and recovered a fumble. Dante Olson added 16 tackles, one TFL, one quarterback hurry and forced a fumble. Sacramento State successfully tried to negate Montana’s blitzes with screens and wheel routes.
The secondary was playing catch-up to receivers who blew past them. They gave up 403 passing yards, 11 passes of 15-plus yards and let the Hornets get wide open on several occasions. Robby Hauck forced fumble. Gavin Robertson fumble recovery. Three penalties for 43 yards.
Special teams: C
Long snapper Matthew O’Donoghue caught a 2-point conversion pass from Mitch Roberts. Adam Wilson averaged 42.6 yards on five punts, placed two inside the 20-yard line and had two of 50-plus yards. Malik Flowers nearly broke off a kickoff return TD. No returns on two punts.