Cats Cruise in Non-League Win - News, Sports and Weather

Cats Cruise in Non-League Win

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An easy non-conference win for Montana State Saturday didn’t dim what junior running back called a sense of urgency.

“Our backs are against the wall,” Newell said after helping lead Montana State to a 63-7 win over first-year FCS program East Tennessee State. “Straight up, that’s how it is. We have to win football games.”

The 4-3 Bobcats extended their string of winning every other game in decisive fashion. The Bobcats scored touchdowns on their first five drives, then after a late-second quarter punt found the end zone on the first two possessions of the second half. MSU rolled up 514 yards of total offense, and the point total was the school’s eighth-highest ever.

The Bobcats rose to the occasion defensively, as well. East Tennessee State’s 376 yards was the fewest MSU has allowed since the season opener against Division II Fort Lewis, and the seven points is the fewest by an opponent this season.

As afternoon faded to dusk, however, MSU coach Rob Ash said what the opponents did on this splendid late-autumn afternoon didn’t concern him as much as the outcome, and his team’s play. “Right now it’s all about us,” Ash said. “I told the team all week that all I really wanted was for us to get better every day this week, and to be better at the end of the game than we were when we started, no matter who we’re playing. I think I can safely say we did that.”

Newell was the first Bobcat to find the end zone Saturday, scoring from one yard to cap a 50-yard drive on MSU’s first possession. On the next Bobcat drive, Justin Paige caught a 41-yard bomb from Dakota Prukop late in the first quarter. The scintillating sophomore finished the day with two catches for 92 yards, and his last six receptions have all gained at least 40 yards.

Newell caught an eight-yard pass from Prukop with 11:03 remaining in the second quarter to extend MSU’s lead to 20-0, and rumbled in from three yards out to close the first half scoring. In between, Prukop connected with tight end Beau Sandland on a 12-yard touchdown pass. MSU led 35-0 at the intermission.

While the points came in abundance Saturday, MSU also benefitted from East Tennessee State turnovers. The Bobcats had only four takeaways in the season’s first six games, but matched that total Saturday. The Cats recovered three of East Tennessee State’s four fumbles – two were forced – and DeMonte King snagged his first career interception.

“The list of firsts today was long,” Ash said. “First tackle, first fumble recovered, first touchdown, and a lot of those were by guys that don’t play a lot or maybe are scouts, but they have great passion for the game and love to compete.”

Among the firsts was Jayshawn Gates, the sophomore receiver who returned a kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown. That marked MSU’s second kickoff return for a touchdown in as many weeks, after Logan Jones’ 100-yarder last week.

Most important to Ash, though, was getting back on the winning track with a positive performance. “Hats off to Coach (Carl) Torbush,” Ash said. “He is building that program the right way. Sometimes in games like this you can give a sloppy performance, but we didn’t let that happen. We maintained our focus and competed well for 60 minutes.”

The Bobcats hit the road next week to play at North Dakota, now 4-4 on the season and 2-3 in the Big Sky, in what amounts to an FCS Playoff elimination game. Kickoff is noon mountain time.

Montana State Sports Information

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