Cats vs. Griz 2014

The Brawl of the Wild is Montana’s biggest rivalry in sports.

Jack Thorsen

The Brawl of the Wild is Montana’s biggest rivalry in sports. Montana and Montana State. It started in 1897 the first chance for either team to win bragging rights in Montana, it’s said you are either a Bobcat or a Grizzly, no in between. This years meeting will be the 113th meeting of the two teams. As the record stands the Grizzlies have won 71 and the Bobcats have won 36 times. In the very first meeting the Grizzlies won on Thanksgiving day November 25, 1897 18 to 6 the first time the Bobcats beat the Griz was 1999, they played twice that year the Cats won both games beating the Grizzlies 38 to 0 and 6 to 0. The rivalry has continued to this day, as people say ‘you can go 0-11 that season but when it comes to the Brawl of the Wild you better win it.’  

The largest victory in the Brawl of the Wild  was the Grizzlies in 1904 a 79 - 0 win. In 1964 when my uncle John Jernberg played for the Bobcats they beat the Grizzlies 30 - 6 and went on to win the National Championship, The Grizzlies have had the longest win streak, winning every meeting from 1986-2001. Travis Lulay, quarterback for the Bobcats in 2002 was only was 2 years old when the Cats last beat the Grizzlies and he ended their streak in 2001 with a 10 - 7 victory. In 2005 Lulay did it again beating the Grizzlies 16 - 26 at the end of the game. The fans stormed Bobcat stadium field and tore down the goal post. This is the last time that tradition was carried out, the school installed collapsible uprights the following year.  

At the University of Montana’s stadium in 2007 Rob Ash’s first game against the Grizzlies trying to stop the Grizzlies perfect season was unsuccessful as the Grizzlies storm threw Montana State 41 - 20. In the four meetings to follow combined there were five total safeties in the meetings. The last year Montana state won the National Championship in 1984 Kelly Bradley, quarterback for the Bobcats, led them to a 10 point win on the Grizzlies, and then 13 point win in the National Championship.

The 100th meeting between the teams saw Grizzly quarterback John Edwards and the Grizzlies pounce on the Cats 28 - 3. When the Grizzlies last won the National Championship in 2001 the Grizzlies were trying to clinch home field advantage through the playoffs and #1 seed for that season. The Cats blew the chance for upset in the 4th quarter loss  38 - 27.

The 110th meeting was Coach Ash’s first Cat/ Griz victory in Missoula, coach Ash would not beat Grizzlies until the 2010 season when they beat the Grizzlies in Missoula 21 - 16. The Bobcats showed up at the game hoping to wear new gold jerseys then for some unknown reason the Grizzlies refused to let the Cats wear their new gold jerseys at the game. Ash says it was his most memorable Cat/Griz game, and DeNarius McGhee beat the Grizzlies his freshman year. In 2010 coach Ash told me “gold is for champions.” In that game in Washington Grizzly stadium 100’s of bobcat fans stormed the field. A 5th grade teacher at Hawthorne Elementary told me 20 thousand Grizzly fans on their way out were disappointed as 100’s of bobcat fans stormed to cheer the on getting of the Great Divide trophy. Some of the gold jerseys had been  spotted being waved around by players showing the gold pride to victory.

Coach Ash said that the biggest joy from winning the Cat/Griz meetings is you get bragging rights for 364 days a year.

This year’s Big Sky Cat/Griz match up should be one for the ages with the Bobcats high atop the Big Sky Conference for first place (Eastern Washingtons loss to Northern Arizona in October left the Bobcats alone in first place in the Big Sky Conference) and the Missoula the Grizzlies sitting in sixth place after losing to Cal Poly 41 to 21. The Cats take on Cal Poly the week after this article is due and should be one of their biggest obstacles in the Big Sky Conference.

This years Bobcat Grizzly game is scheduled for November 22 in Missoula at Washington Grizzly Stadium. If the Bobcats continue their winning streak the Grizzly game could mean a chance for the Bobcats to go undefeated in the Big Sky Conference, and possibly make the playoffs with home game appearances.

This game will mark quarterback Dakotas Prukop’s first game starting as a Bobcat against the Grizzlies. Dakota has been on fire all year with a total of 105 rushing attempts with a total of 608 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns. He has a 175 passing attempts and has completed 221 passes and has only thrown four interceptions all season. Combined with the 11 rushing touchdowns and 17 passing touchdowns and a combined total yardage of 1859, Dakota and the Bobcats are definitely on fire. Look for this Cat/Griz game to be one for the record books. My early prediction is the Bobcats will win 54 - 40.   
        Go Cats!

This was made by

Jack Thorsen

Jack Thorsen is a sophomore at Bozeman High School. He is a defenseman on the Gallatin Valley Lacrosse Team, and a member of the BHS Varsity Golf Team. He has been writing for Bozeman Magazine for the past five years.

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