Courtesy: Montana State Athletics
The Cougars scored on their first two drives and didn't look back as No. 24 Washington State defeated Montana State, 31-0, in front of a season-opening crowd of 30,254 at Martin Stadium Saturday, Sept. 2.
Washington State senior quarterback Luke Falk led the Cougars on a first drive of 12 plays, 73 yards, and their second drive of 13 plays, 90 yards, to jump WSU out to a 14-0 lead with 11 minutes, 19 seconds to go in the first half.
The Bobcats' defense adjusted and forced a three-and-out on the next Cougar drive. Following an MSU punt, Khari Garcia forced a Washington State fumble on the very next play, giving the Bobcats the ball in opponent territory.
MSU took over on the WSU 43 with 2:13 remaining in the 1st half and the 'Cats were able to drive down to the 25. The Bobcats had a 42-yard field goal miss the uprights with less than 10 seconds to go as the two teams went to halftime with a 14-point margin.
Both teams stalled on their opening drives of the second half before Washington State was able to push its lead to a three-score game. The Cougars found the end zone on a 66-yard drive near the end of the third quarter, and capped a 63-yard drive with a 24-yard shovel pass from Falk to James Williams at the 13:22 mark in the fourth quarter to put the game out of reach.
The Bobcats were led on the defensive side of the ball by senior Bryson McCabe's 13 tackles and Brayden Konkol's 11. Senior Mac Bignell picked up a sack and led MSU with 2 tackles for loss to go along with his 9 total tackles. Freshman Chase Benson also registered a sack for the Bobcats, while Damien Washington forced a fumble.
Sophomore quarterback Chris Murray went 5-for-12 passing for 28 yards and an interception. Four of his passes were complete to senior Mitchell Herbert. Murray led the way on the ground for MSU with 55 yards, while freshman Troy Andersen ran for 33 yards on nine carries and sophomore Edward Vander picked up 23 yards rushing.
The Cougars outgained the Bobcats 511-143 in total yards. Falk led WSU by going 33 of 39 passing for 311 yards and three touchdowns. Williams led the Cougs with 13 catches for 163 yards receiving and Jamal Morrow ran for a team-high 89 yards on 10 carries. Jalen Thompson had a WSU-high seven tackles.
Montana State football makes its home debut at 6 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 9, at Bobcat Stadium against South Dakota State. The Bobcats will be hosting their annual Gold Rush game when the No. 4/6 Jackrabbits of the Missouri Valley Conference visit Bozeman.