Phillips throws 4 TD passes to lift Montana past Valpo 45-23

Valparaiso head coach Dave Cecchini, left, shakes hands with Montana head coach Bob Stitt after an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 2, 2017, in Missoula, Mont. Montana beat Valparaiso 45-23. (AP Photo/Patrick Record)

MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) Kentucky transfer Reese Phillips threw three of his four second-half touchdowns in a span of six offensive plays to lead Montana to a 45-23 win over Valparaiso in the season-opener for both teams on Saturday.

The senior capped a nine-play drive with a 14-yard strike to Samori Toure to put the Grizzlies up 24-13 in the third quarter. He hooked up with Keenan Curran on a 45-yard score on third down of the next possession and Jerry Louie-McGee for 25 yards on second down of the next series to make it 38-13.

Louie-McGee, who had nine catches for 159 yards, also hauled in Phillips’ fourth TD pass, a 17-yarder with 5:50 to play.

Phillips, who never started at Kentucky, was 27 of 38 for 381 yards and one interception. The Grizzlies finished with 538 yards of offense to run their season-opening home winning streak to 14 games.

Jeremy Calhoun ran for two touchdowns in the first half to give Montana a 17-13 lead.

Backup quarterback Chris Duncan threw for two touchdowns for the Crusaders, who had 450 yards on offense. Dimitrois Latsonas kicked three field goals.