BY JACKSON WAGNER
Montana Sports Information
In his post game press conference, North Dakota State head coach Chris Klieman said that the group of receivers from Montana is probably the best corps they will face all season.
Montana fans will most likely agree.
One of those star wide outs flying around the field was No. 7 Ellis Henderson, and the sight of his jersey brought Grizzly fans fond memories.
Henderson, a 6-foot tall junior from Vancouver, Washington, had one of the best seasons at wide receiver in Montana history in 2013, totaling over 1,000 yards on the year. Last year, he played limited time in just five games as he battled a prolonged illness.
Now, it appears Ellis is Ellis again. And the time off didn’t seem to bother the redshirt.
“I was really excited,” Henderson said of returning to the starting line-up. “I honestly didn’t have any nerves coming in, it just felt right.”
On the Grizzlies first offensive possession of the game, Henderson received his first target, dropping a short pass on third down.
“I was pretty upset that I dropped that first pass,” Henderson said, “but then after that, we always talk about if you mess up put it away and move onto the next play and that’s what I tried to do. I don’t think I dropped a pass after that and we just made it roll.”
Henderson and the rest of the Grizzly offense did make it roll, as they would amass 544 total yards on 92 plays.
“This offense is great, especially for us receivers,” Henderson said. “Me and Jamaal (Jones) have been talking about it all day, and we’re just really excited for the future.”
Redshirt junior Brady Gustafson completed 30 of his 55 attempted passes, and it was clear who his two favorite targets are going to be this year.
Henderson and Jones, who both have been picked to the all-conference second team, combined for 15 catches and 252 yards. They both found their way to the back of the end zone as well, and the two best friends couldn’t be more proud.
“That’s my dude,” Henderson said of Jones. “I’ve been through a lot with him, and I think we both work really hard on and off the field and we are just really excited to showcase that to the world really.”
The biggest play of the day for Henderson came with just under seven minutes remaining in the third quarter. Gustafson faked a hand-off, and then found a streaking Henderson behind the defense for a 62-yard touchdown.
“I came out of my break, and what we’ve been working on all spring and fall is to be able to come out of the break and have the timing perfect,” Henderson said of the play. “I will take zero credit for that, it was all Brady. I came out my break, barely saw the ball out of the corner of my eye, and just stuck my hands out. It was more of a reactionary play than a physical one.”
Henderson, who has endured so much on and off the field for the last year, sprinted directly towards the north end zone with the fans cheering him on. It was a sweet moment for a young man who has faced so much adversity.
“That feeling is unexplainable,” Henderson said. “I think the people that have done it, they know what it is. We have the best fans in the world, and running into that end zone in one of the biggest games of my career and one of the biggest games ever here, I’m going to cherish that for a long time.”
Editors note: Jackson Wagner is a 2014 graduate of Anaconda High School and is a journalist major at UM.