Alaska runner leads Griz to Division I-AA crown

Posted: Sunday, December 23, 2001

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. -- Montana's Yohance Humphery, a former Chugiak High School player, kept looking at his commemorative NCAA Division I-AA national championship cap.

John Edwards gave coach Joe Glenn a big hug, and Glenn walked through the press box giving high-fives and patting reporters' backs.

The Grizzlies were on the losing side of the championship game last year, and the difference after this year's game was huge.

"Second is no good, and first is awesome," Glenn said.

Montana won its second title Friday night with a 13-6 victory over Furman on Humphery's touchdown run and Chris Snyder's two field goals.

Montana's roster also features freshman offensive lineman James White, who attended Juneau-Douglas High School, but White sat out this season after surgery on his right shoulder. White was a redshirt last year and didn't get to play, but during spring practices he'd worked his way up to second string on the depth chart at two positions before being sidelined.

After losing to Georgia Southern in last year's championship game, the Grizzlies were determined to get another chance. They went back to work on Jan. 29 to get in shape and prepare for another season.

"There is not a more deserving team in the United States than the Montana Grizzlies," Glenn said. "They never gave up and they never quit."

The Grizzlies also won the title in 1995.

This time, Furman's players were the ones with the blank stares, teary-red eyes and tired looks -- not the Grizzlies.

Furman's defense played well, but its offense couldn't muster any points until time ran out. The score equaled the lowest total ever in the championship.

"Montana did an outstanding defensive job. They made plays, and we didn't," Furman coach Bobby Johnson said. "We thought we could move the ball a lot better than we did."

The biggest play of the game came when Humphery capped a 99-yard drive with a 2-yard touchdown run.

Two plays earlier, Chris Snyder missed a 20-yard field goal, but Montana got the ball back and a first down because of an off-sides penalty against Furman.

Humphery had 142 yards on 30 carries, while Furman's Louis Ivory, the Southern Conference's offensive player of the year, was held to just 33 yards on 12 carries.

Furman, which won its only title in 1988, beat Georgia Southern last week in the semifinals.

The game might have been the last for Johnson at Furman. He's a leading candidate to replace Woody Widenhofer at Vanderbilt.

But after the game, he didn't say much about where his job status.

"I am not standing on anything but Furman football," he said.

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