By Mick Holien
It has been 22 years since Montana’s Legend of the Fall was recognized by football’s elite in New York City.
After engineering a final drive that propelled Montana over heavily favored Marshall to claim the 1995 Championship in 1995 Dave Dickenson became the only Montana player to ever win the Walter Payton Award as the Nation’s top offensive player which was presented in New York City..
Adding to his unprecedented list of laurels he now becomes one of nine players and three coaches selected by the National Football Foundation to this year’s class of the College Football Hall of Fame.
Only the second such Montana player so selected, he was the only FCS players chosen from a list of 98 division players.
The only other Treasure State selectee was the legendary Wild Bill Kelly, who was inducted in 1969.
Talk about rarified air: Some 5.26 million have played or coached in the D-1 football in the last 149 years and two one-hundredths of a percent have been so recognized.
Dickenson is remembered by everyone for the 12-play 72 yard scoring drive culminating with Mike Erhardt’s fourth down 20-yard clutch catch and Andy Larson’s 25-yard field goal, but broadcasting every game of Dickie’s amazing career I have so many things etched in my mind.
During his first start as a sophomore in 1993 the Griz were being smoked by South Dakota State 38-7 in the third quarter.
Undismayed Dickenson engineered what was then the widest comeback in 1-AA history to claim a 52-48 victory in also my first game on the mike moving from an eight-year stint in the Public Address booth.
The 39 fourth-quarter points compiled by the two teams also was a record.
The following week in Eugene Don Read opted to start veteran quarterback Bert Wiberger. An Oregonian, and although Dickie relieved him in the second half with some Dickensonian magic after being down 21-0 it, it wasn’t enough and the Ducks prevailed 35-30.
It was Dave’s first ever loss while at quarterback after an illustrious 40 game win streak at CMR in Great Falls.
But the venerable Read then handed over the signal calling reins from there and Montana reeled off nine straight victories before losing to Delaware in the first round of the playoffs in double OT 49-48 when Larson, then a true freshman, missed a tying PAT.
In Dickie’s junior campaign, after opening with eight victories to run their total to 17 regular season victories, Montana received their first-ever top national ranking,
But the Gem State put an end to that with both Boise and Idaho State handing Montana a reality check.
A trip to rainy, dreary Youngstown for a semi-final playoff game ended in disaster and it was rehab time prior to what became a spectacular dream 1995 season.
The second game of the 95 season saw Drew Bledsoe lead Washington State past Montana. It was the sole blemish followed by a dozen wins. In his career, Dickie was victorious in 34 of 41 games including six of 10 in the playoffs.
Named to the Grizzly Sports Hall of Fame in 1993, Dickenson is the school’s leading passer and still holds 28 of the school’s passing records.
A two-time All American, Grey Cup champion, CFL MVP, Coach of the Year and Griz Hall of Famer, now add yet another.
The Hall of Fame class will be inducted Dec. 4, 2018 at the New York Hilton Midtown.