Cats Show Depth in Great Falls in Triangle Classic Scrimmage - News, Sports and Weather

Cats Show Depth in Great Falls in Triangle Classic Scrimmage

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GREAT FALLS, Mont. -- If gazing at stars is your thing, Montana State's Triangle Classic in Great Falls might not have been the place to be Saturday. But with the spring's theme of creating depth and evaluating young players in mind, Rob Ash saw the day as a great success.

“It means you have other guys,” Ash said of the opportunity to see so many young and inexperienced players in a live setting, “and you have the chance to evaluate other guys. “We needed to see them, and there was no chance of (the starters) getting hurt.”

Without the team's top three running backs, six receivers and tight end participating, Montana State's top offensive unit nonetheless produced. Sophomore running back Nick LaSane scored the event's only touchdown and sophomore kicker Luke Daly added one field goal each for the ones and twos.

In windy conditions, the emphasis fell on Montana State's ground game. LaSane gained 78 yards on 11 carries, including the 13-yard touchdown run, while freshman Tavon Dodd scampered 17 times for 67 yards.

“I thought we ran the ball well at times,” Ash said. “The running backs ran hard, and well. Tavon and Nick are certainly different types of runners, and they showed that today. When you're running the ball like that the offensive line has to be doing some good things up front.”

LaSane enjoyed the ground-oriented afternoon, especially the standouts he ran behind. “Oh, yeah, it was a great day,” he said. “We came out and did what we had to do. We didn't get to pass the ball as much as we wanted to, we got to run the ball and evaluate the three of us younger running backs, and I think it was good. The O-line, man, they always come out here and play their hearts out. I couldn't ask for a better O-line.”

The Cats also moved the ball through the air, in spite of its rapid circulation above and through the premises. Dakota Prukop completed six of his 10 attempts for 109 yards, while Jake Bleskin was 8-for-20 for 60 yards. Freshman Johnny D'Agostino caught four passes for 79 yards, while Connor Sullivan's two catches, each involving impressive in-flight adjustments to the ball, caught Ash's eye. “ I thought Connor Sullivan caught the ball extremely well. He really made a statement,” he said.

Still, the defense kept the Bobcat offense largely under wraps. “It was a hard-hitting scrimmage and early on the offense had their own way at times,” Ash said, “but there was only one touchdown scored in 82 plays. When you think about it, that… was a good defensive performance. There were some good fourth down stops, and I thought they played with a lot of enthusiasm and energy, and that's what we've tried to emphasize this spring. I really felt pretty good about it.”

Junior Zach Hutchins has emerged as a key figure in Montana State's revamped defensive scheme. He occupies the Bandit defensive end that plays in space, his speed and athleticism slotting him as ideal as a hybrid defensive end/linebacker. “I thought he was (good), especially (against) the ones,” Ash said. “He made some nice plays, had some sacks against the one offensive line. I thought he looked really good out there.”

More than a compilation of statistics or an opportunity for evaluation – or even the chance for a football fix in the spring – Montana State's annual Triangle Classic visit to Great Falls stands as a special interaction between a passionate fan base in a football-crazed community, and a tradition-steeped college program. Approximately 1,400 attended the Triangle Classic Banquet Friday, not including the players, coaches or other MSU officials, while an enthusiastic gathering of nearly that many saw Saturday's scrimmage.

“It's fantastic!” Ash said of the weekend trip to Great Falls. “I think it's really, really important for Bobcat football to play up here in Great Falls. It's an amazing testimony to the people up here and how hard they work and how much effort they put in for our program, and then to have the energy to come out the next day and support the game, it sends us home with a really good feeling.”

Montana State returns to Bobcat Stadium next Saturday for the Sonny Holland Classic.

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