MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — Dalton Sneed ran for one score and threw for another, helping Montana hold off Northern Iowa for a 26-23 win on Saturday night in Bobby Hauck's first game back as Montana's coach.
Hauck, who guided the Grizzlies (1-0) to Big Sky Conference titles in each of his seven seasons as the helm from 2003-09, saw his defense hold Northern Iowa to 47 total yards in the first half. Sneed tore off a 17-yard scramble to give the Grizzlies a 6-0 lead about 2½ minutes into the game.
Sneed, who transferred from Fort Scott Community College after beginning his college career UNLV, hit Samori Toure with a 10-yard touchdown pass with 25 seconds left in the first quarter, making it 16-0.
The lead grew to 26-0 by halftime on a 25-yard double-pass from Keenan Curran to tight end Colin Bingham, and a 31-yard field goal from Tim Semenza as the second quarter ended.
Northern Iowa (0-1), ranked No. 13 in the FCS, got on the board when backup quarterback Colton Howell sneaked in from 1-yard out with 1:57 left in the third quarter.
Marcus Weymiller added a 1-yard touchdown run with 11:43 to play and, after a pair of Montana punts, Northern Iowa drew to 26-23 after Howell's 11-yard pass to Nick Fossey with 3:14 remaining.
Sneed, who threw for 239 yards on 28-of-39 passing, hit Toure with a 14-yard pass on third-and-2 to allow 24th-ranked Montana to run out the clock.
Howell threw for 140 yards on 11-of-22 passing in relief of starter Eli Dunne, who completed just 5 of 20 passes for 24 yards with an interception.
The Grizzlies improved to 6-0 all-time against UNI. Montana also beat the Panthers 48-10 in the 2011 I-AA playoffs, but the win was vacated due to NCAA infractions.