Story and photo courtesy of Montana State Athletics
BOZEMAN, Mont. - Montana State scored touchdowns on offense, defense and special teams in the first half, jumping out to a 59-10 lead and never looking back in a 65-30 victory over Portland State in frigid Bozeman on Saturday.
Cold temperatures couldn't chill the warm feelings after the win, Rob Ash's 48th as Montana State's head coach to set a new Bobcat standard. "That was a special moment," Ash said of the ride his team gave him off the Bobcat Stadium field. "I'll remember that forever."
Bobcat fans are likely to remember Saturday's win, as well. After a Rory Perez field goal and a 17-yard Cody Kirk touchdown run, Portland State scored on a 69-yard dash by DJ Adams to draw the Vikings to within 10-7.
Then, the onsluaught began.
First DeNarius McGhee found Kruiz Siewing on a 14-yard touchdown pass midway through the first quarter to put MSU up 17-7, then Shawn Johnson caught a 54-yard touchdown pass from McGhee, a play which began with Kirk accepting a direct snap and lateralling to McGhee.
Early in the second quarter, Kirk scampered 14 yards for another score, then Orenzo Davis scored on a two-yard run. Less than a minute later, Steven Bethley's pick-six gave MSU a 45-7 first half lead. With 4:15 to play in the half Brian Flotkoetter caught a 19-yard touchdown pass, then Johnson returned a 72-yard touchdown to give MSU a 59-7 advantage. Zack Brown's 25-yard field goal closed the first half scoring, giving MSU a 59-10 lead at intermission.
"This is what this team is capable of," said Bobcat defensive end Caleb Schreibeis, who celebrated Senior Day with two forced fumbles, raising his MSU single season record total to seven. He also registered seven tackles, two for a loss, with a sack.
In fact, MSU's defensive stat sheet is littered with impressive numbers. MSU forced six fumbles, logged three sacks and 10 tackles-for-loss. Among the two interceptions were Bethley's, which was returned for a touchdown, and Darius Jones', which set one up.
MSU's overall offensive numbers weren't staggering - 470 total yards, 232 on the ground - but the individual numbers stood out. Cody Kirk rushed for 122 yards, scoring twice on the ground and once in the air. McGhee threw four touchdown passes, finishing 12-for-17 for 232 yards.
But for all involved, the win was more satisfying than the numbers, individual or otherwise. "I've never won a game, it's the guys out there playing," Ash said. "It's very satisfying to get the win and to see the smiles on the players' faces."
By raising its record to 9-1 overall, 6-1 in Big Sky play, the Bobcats put themselves in position to challenge for a third straight league championship in the annual Cat-Griz clash next weekend in Missoula.