Story and photo courtesy of Montana State Athletics
DeNarius McGhee is nothing if not coachable.
“Coach Ash told us (before MSU's game-winning touchdown drive) that we're going to win the game right here,” said MSU's junior quarterback.
And McGhee obliged, marching the Bobcats 67 yards on 12 plays without the team's leading rusher, leading receiver, and two starting offensive linemen. The result was a 24-17 Bobcat win at Southern Utah on Saturday.
The Thunderbirds tied the game on a Colton Cook 49-yard field goal with 8:29 to play, and after one of four MSU turnovers Cook missed a 49-yarder that would have given SUU its first lead. Instead, McGhee led the game-winning drive.
“We had guys that stepped up when players went down,” said Rob Ash, referencing an injury to Cody Kirk and tackle John Weidenaar's ejection. Coupled with injuries to guard Matthew Devereux and receiver Tanner Bleskin, MSU was without several pieces of its offense.
“That made DeNarius' performance even more remarkable,” Ash said.
McGhee finished 18-for-28 passing with two touchdowns and an interception. He threw for 211 yards, 71 to Jon Ellis. Orenzo Davis rushed for 123 yards, 74 on one play.
Each team's defense played dominant football in the first half, with the exception of a handful of big plays. DeNarius McGhee got the Bobcats on the board first, tossing a four-yarder to Tray Robinson on MSU's second drive of the game.
The game's first big play came on a firat-and-30 for the Thunderbirds from midfield. Sorensen lobbed a 44-yard pass for Griff McNabb, and followed that with a six-yarder to Brian Wilson for a touchdown.
The half's punctuation mark came courtesy of Orenzo Davis, who took a handoff at the MSU 26 and blasted through a hole into open field. Davis scored 74 yards later, and MSU led 14-7 at the intermission.
Mistakes defined the first half. MSU committed a pair of turnovers – a fumble by Davis and an interception by McGhee – and five costly penalties. Southern Utah was flagged only three times in the first half.
Bobcat defensive end Brad Daly who had a key sack, credited SUU. “They played with a lot of heart,” he said. “They kept coming back, and we had to keep answering.”
MSU raised its record to 5-0 on the season, 2-0 in Big Sky play. Southern Utah is now 2-3, 1-1.