Story and photo courtesy of Stephen F. Austin Athletics
There was never a dull moment on Saturday at Bobcat Stadium, especially the final quarter of play in Montana State's 43-35 win over Stephen F. Austin.
The non-conference game saw five lead changes, including four in the fourth quarter. Cody Kirk's 5-yard run with 2:26 to play gave the Bobcats the lead for good, 40-35. On SFA's first play after Kirk's run, safety Steven Bethley came up with an interception which led to a 44-yard field goal by Rory Perez to ice the game.
“I was reading the quarterback's eyes and slid to the middle of the field,” Bethley said of his pick. “He led me right to the ball.”
The third-ranked Bobcats are 3-0 for the first time since 1978. Next up for MSU is the Big Sky Conference opener at home against Northern Colorado.
“Everyone is coming after us,” Bethley said. “They have Montana State marked on their calendar, so we knew we'd get the best from them. We just had to be able to perform.”
Kirk got in the end zone three times and ran for a season-best 105 yards while Tanner Bleskin had career highs of 10 catches and 180 yards, including a 35-yard scoring pass from DeNarius McGhee.
“This was a great challenge for us,” Kirk said. “It let us find out where we need to be. You've got to win games like this.”
Twenty-third ranked SFA of the Southland Conference slipped to 1-2, despite Brady Attaway's 418 passing yards and three scores. But Bethley clinched the game with his interception and Aleksei Grosulak also picked off one of Attaway's passes.
“I thought the defense did a great job,” MSU coach Rob Ash said. “You don't usually say that after you give up 35 points.”
Besides Kirk and Bleskin, also finding the end zone was Tray Robinson on a 3-yard toss from McGhee and McGhee on an 11-yard run. McGhee finished with 22 completions on 39 attempts for 275 yards.