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Cat-Griz Report: Cats edge Vandals; Griz crushed at UND

 

October 15, 2018

406 Sports

Montana State's Troy Andersen runs for a touchdown during Saturday's homecoming win over Idaho in Bozeman.

BOZEMAN — Montana State scored two touchdowns in the third quarter to take the lead for good as the Bobcats defeated the Idaho Vandals, 24-23, on Homecoming at Bobcat Stadium Saturday.

Idaho opened the game's scoring with a first drive that spanned 75 yards on nine plays, and ended with a touchdown, to give the Vandals a 7-0 lead just over 4 minutes into the Big Sky Conference Football matchup.

MSU responded midway through the first quarter. The Bobcats drove 71 yards on their third offensive drive, which was capped off with a 35-yard rushing touchdown by Troy Andersen to tie the score 7-7.

Despite gaining first downs on their next two drives, an MSU turnover on downs would key Idaho's next scoring possession. The Vandals drove down the field in seven plays for 54 yards to take a 14-7 lead with 6:46 to go in the first half. Idaho seemed to create a legitimate advantage to open the second half. The Bobcats opened the half with a three-and-out and the Vandals came right back to score. Idaho converted a 37-yard field goal and jumped out to a 17-7 edge.

That's when MSU offense took over and the Bobcat defense began to make crucial plays.

The Bobcats scored less than 2 minutes after the Idaho field goal. A 5-play drive that spanned 75-yards was highlighted on a pass from Andersen to Lance McCutcheon for 37 yards down to the Vandals' 2-yard line. Freshman Isaiah Ifanse cashed it in on the next play and the deficit was cut to 17-14.

The Vandals drove to the MSU 40 on their next possession, but MSU's defense came up with a big play. Senior Tyrone Fa'anono batted done a 4th down pass by Idaho quarterback Mason Petrino to complete a turnover on downs.

The Bobcats took over and the next play Andersen scampered down the field for 60 yards to the end zone for his second rushing touchdown of the game. That gave MSU a 21-17 edge with 2:45 remaining in the third quarter.

Both teams traded punts as the clock winded into the fourth quarter.

Idaho took the ball over on its own 14-yard line with 9:10 to go, but the drive would help cushion MSU's lead. A Petrino pass was picked off by Jahque Alleyne, his team-leading third interception of the season, to give the Bobcats solid field position. The Cats picked up only three yards on three plays, but MSU capitalized with Tristan Bailey connecting on a 42-yard field goal with 7:26 to go in the contest.

The Vandals still had plenty of time left on the clock to respond. Idaho's ensuing kickoff return brought the Vandals out to midfield to begin their drive. They eventually completed a 9-play, 51-yard drive behind a double-reverse, which was designed as a pass, but David Ungerer ran into the end zone from nine yards out.

The Vandals had an opportunity to tie the game, but the following extra point attempt failed.

Idaho attempted an onside kick with 3:07 to go, but the kick went out of bounds at its own 45. MSU's Andersen had consecutive runs of 6, 3 and 2 yards to move the chains and seal the victory for the Bobcats.

Montana State improved to 4-2 overall, and 2-1 in Big Sky play, with the one-point victory over Idaho. Andersen led the Bobcats offensively with 250 all-purpose yards, with 159 coming on the ground. Ifanse contributed in the running game with 53 yards on 13 carries. McCutcheon hauled in a team-best five receptions and 63 yards receiving.

The MSU defense was paced by Grant Collins who racked up a team-high 10 tackles. Six different Bobcats registered tackles for loss, with Derek Marks picking up MSU's lone sack. Greg Filer III had two of the Bobcats' six pass breakups.

Idaho's Petrino threw for 162 yards on 21 of 35 passing. Isaiah Sanders led the rushing game with 82 yards on 19 carries, while Ungerer had team highs in receptions (8) and receiving yards (70).

The Bobcats travel for their next two games. Montana State heads to Weber State, which knocked off Eastern Washington, this Saturday.

North Dakota 41, Griz 14

GRAND FORKS, N.D. — Turnovers did the Grizzlies in again.

Montana turned the ball over on its first three possessions, all in the opening five minutes of the game, and North Dakota took full advantage Saturday afternoon at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks.

The Fighting Hawks turned those three giveaways into a quick 21-0 lead, used another Grizzly miscue in the second quarter to build a 34-0 advantage at the half and went on to a 41-14 victory in what gets counted as a Big Sky Conference game for No. 22 Montana (4-3, 2-2 BSC).

It was the second consecutive loss for the Grizzlies, the second in a row that can largely be attributed to turnovers. Montana fell at home last week to Portland State, 22-20, on a day when it fumbled the ball four times.

"When you turn it over three times in the first quarter, we're not good enough to overcome that or even be close at this point. We're not built to get out of that unless everything goes right, and certainly that wasn't the case," said coach Bobby Hauck.

On the third offensive play of the game, Dalton Sneed was intercepted by Deion Harris at the Montana 45, and a 35-yard return set North Dakota up with a first-and-goal. One play later it was 7-0.

Montana fumbled the ensuing kickoff, which turned into a short 42-yard scoring drive for the Fighting Hawks. That made it 14-0 less than four minutes into the game.

The Grizzlies' best chance to stay in the game came on their next possession, when Gabe Sulser ran around end for a 59-yard gain to the 10 and Sneed hit Matt Rensvold for nine yards to the one. With Colin Bingham set up in the backfield and taking the handoff on a short-yardage play, he fumbled. North Dakota took the gift and marched 98 yards in nine plays to make it 21-0.

"We're a really average football team," said Hauck. "We've been good enough to win four and two of those (losses) we've been maybe one play away (from winning), but I don't think there is any sugarcoating the fact we're pretty dang average.

"We have liabilities and we have holes. There is no getting around that this season. It's not good enough to go out and kick it around like we did. We can't overcome that."

Even when Montana created its own break, when Marcus Welnel blocked a North Dakota punt that Mitch Roberts recovered at the North Dakota 18 early in the second quarter, nothing productive came of it.

Sneed hit Samori Toure for a 22-yard touchdown, only to see it waved off for an ineligible player downfield. Two plays later Tim Semenza missed his first field goal of the season, from 45 yards out, after opening 10 for 10.

After Montana turned the ball over on downs later in the second quarter, North Dakota needed just one play to go 55 yards when Nate Ketteringham hit Izzy Adeoti for 55 yards, one of a number of long pass connections for the Fighting Hawks, who gained 210 yards through the air in the first half.

"We're making them hot down the field," Hauck said at halftime. "We're there. They make a play on the ball or we make a play on the ball. We've got to make a play on the ball. It's a simple fact. They're not marching up and down the field. They're hitting us with the deep ball."

North Dakota made it 34-0 at the half following Montana's fourth turnover. Sneed hit Toure in the flat and the ball was stripped, a standup forced fumble, and returned to the 10. It led to another one-play scoring drive.

"Offensively and defensively they did what we thought they'd try to do," said Hauck. "They played well, and they deserve some credit for that, but it was more about us. We've got to make plays and take care of the ball. We've got to do better."

It would be the fourth quarter, after it was 41-0, before Montana would finally get on the scoreboard.

With Cam Humphrey on in place of Sneed, he connected with Samuel Akem for a 68-yard touchdown and on Montana's final possession found Akem again, this time from 24 yards out. But there would only be so many possessions as North Dakota rushed for 178 of its 282 yards on the ground in the second half to keep the clock moving.

"I thought our guys played to the finish, but again, we can't be in that kind of hole and expect to win the game," said Hauck.

The Fighting Hawks would finish with 536 yards of offense and have a 17-minute advantage in time of possession. They had the ball for more than 22 minutes in the second half, the Grizzlies less than eight.

For good or for bad, Montana reaches its off week and won't play again until hosting UC Davis on Saturday, Oct. 27, at Washington-Grizzly Stadium.

"As young as our team is, for them to have to sit and live with this one next week will be good. I think it can be productive for us to have to sit and marinate on this one," said Hauck. "And we'll get back out on the practice field and try to improve."

 

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