Courtesy: Montana State Sports Information
Montana State played a sound game on both sides of the ball and never trailed in a 49-21 victory over No. 17 North Dakota on Saturday, Sept. 23, in front a sellout crowd at the Alerus Center. The victory was the first for the Bobcat football team this season and cut a streak of 11 consecutive Big Sky Conference wins for the Fighting Hawks.
The Bobcats jumped out to a 21-point lead and didn't allow the Fighting Hawks to cut the deficit to one possession the entire contest. MSU racked up 515 total yards of offense while the Bobcat defense held the Fighting Hawks (1-3, 0-1) to 255 yards, including just 102 on the ground.
Montana State (1-2, 1-0) went three-and-out on its opening possession and North Dakota took advantage by driving down the field on its ensuing drive. The tide turned in the game early when Mitch Brott blocked the Fighting Hawks' 45-yard field goal attempt.
The Bobcat offense reached the end zone on three straight drives to jump out to a 21-0 advantage.
Montana State scored its first touchdown on a 72-yard drive. Chris Murray went 3-of-4 passing to direct the offense and Logan Jones capitalized by diving into pay dirt from 11 yards out as the Bobcats ended the first quarter up 7-0.
After another three-and-out forced by the MSU defense, the Bobcats got the ball back and converted on a fourth down en route to their second score of the game. Chris Murraydirected the offense 65 yards down the field in all, and MSU took a 14-0 lead when Troy Anderson rushed into the end zone from two yards out for his first collegiate touchdown.
Again, the MSU defensive unit held North Dakota without a first down and MSU got the ball back at its own 32. From there, Murray picked up a 41-yard rush and eventually connected with Wilson Brott on a 12-yard touchdown pass to complete the six-play drive up 21-0.
The Bobcats scored one more touchdown before the half. Murray guided the offense down the field 72 yards and found Jabarri Johnson in the back corner of the end zone for the 13-yard touchdown pass, following an interception return for a Fighting Hawks score, to push the score to 28-7.
UND would drive down before the break, but was held to a 37-yard field goal opportunity after a Zach Wright sack, which went through the uprights and made it 28-10 at half.
Montana State put the game out of reach by scoring on its first two drives of the second half.
Kevin Kassis recorded his first touchdown of the season on a 44-yard reception that he finished off by jumping over the pylon to make it a 35-13 game. After a North Dakota touchdown, MSU responded with a 14-play drive – that spanned from the third to fourth quarter – that went 83 yards and was capped by a 27-yard rushing touchdown by Anderson.
The Bobcats put the finishing touches on the victory thanks to the defense.
Brayden Konkol intercepted UND quarterback Keaton Studsrud and MSU's offense finished a 45-yard drive with Chris Murray diving into the end zone for a one-yard score.
Murray and Anderson led the Bobcats on the ground with both rushing for over 130 yards, while Edward Vander contributed with 61. Murray went 15-for-19 passing for 174 yards with a combined four touchdowns. Mitchell Herbert had a team-high five receptions and 49 yards receiving. Konkel and Mac Bignell led the defense with each recording six tackles. Wright, Brandon Hayashi and Derek Marks all registered sacks for MSU on Saturday.
The Bobcats return home on Saturday, Sept. 30, for their homecoming game which features the second annual Stripe the Stadium promotion. Montana State will host Weber State with kickoff set for 1:30 p.m. Limited tickets are available online at http://bit.ly/BobcatHomecoming and at the Bobcat Ticket Office.