Montana State defeats northern Colorado for fourth consecutive victory | national


Northern Colorado had a first down and a goal from the Montana State three-yard line early in the fourth quarter. MSU led 40-7, so victory was almost assured. One victory was not enough.

The Bobcats had played an almost flawless game thus far, and they wanted to avoid a rare flaw.

That’s exactly what MSU did, thanks in part to a few lost passes and a solid, motivated defense. With the student section right behind them, the Bobcats made a save at third base from the one yard line, and Ty Okada intercepted a Dylan McCaffrey pass a play later.

Okada and the intended UNC receiver both got their hands on McCaffrey’s pass. The nickelback junior redshirt struggled away.

“Whenever you play football you only have a limited number of opportunities, so you make the most of it,” said MSU linebacker Callahan O’Reilly. “Even at the end of the game, you just want to keep improving and make sure you’re pushing yourself to do your best.”

The 11th-ranked Bobcats (4-1, 2-0 Big Sky) started quickly and rarely saw a lull in their 40-7 victory over the Bears (2-3, 1-1) on Saturday afternoon at the Bobcat Stadium.

“They’re a better team than Drake and San Diego, who we also had some big wins against,” said O’Reilly. “It was definitely one of our best performances.”

MSU, who was favored by 21.5 points, could not have been more balanced on offense, finishing with identical rushing and passing yards totals at 276 each (on 42 rushes and 23 passes).

The defense was equally impressive, if not more, holding UNC at 233 yards on 63 plays. Okada’s interception, the second of his season and career, was the third turnover forced by the Bobcats. O’Reilly and Eric Zambrano both picked McCaffrey as well.

These first two interceptions were decisive.

Matthew McKay completed a 16-yard touchdown pass to Lance McCutcheon to give the Bobcats a 7-0 lead with 10:31 left in the first quarter. It was MSU’s second opening score this season.

In the ensuing kick-off, MSU starting defensive end Daniel Hardy introduced UNC returner Ty Arrington, sending a jerk to his teammates and the 20,127 fans in attendance.

“I passed out because I was screaming so loud. I was like, ‘Holy cow, I have to calm down a bit,’ ”O’Reilly said. “It definitely takes the team forward. It’s really cool to see someone who is an important player to us take so much pride in their role on special teams and do an amazing job for that as well.

O’Reilly, a junior redshirt from Bozeman, caught his first varsity interception four games later, and that led to a 10-yard touchdown on a sweep from McCutcheon, also a Bozeman graduate. It was the first touchdown in McCutcheon’s career with MSU.

“I didn’t really get the ball in the backfield like that, so having one on my, I mean, the second or third time this year and throwing it into the end zone was really cool,” he said. said McCutcheon, who finished with 107 receiving yards on four catches.

O’Reilly was McCutcheon’s quarterback with the Hawks and became linebacker after his freshman year with MSU.

“It makes me feel good to see one of my best friends from high school playing football,” said McCutcheon. “When he moved after his freshman year, I knew he was going to be great at the job.”

The Bobcats led 17-0 after a quarter, with a 178-20 advantage in total offense, and extended their lead to 20-0 in the second quarter thanks to Blake Glessner’s second basket.

“We knew that with the nature of their defense, we had to go out and run the game, and we did,” MSU head coach Brent Vigen said. “It changed the way they really played the rest of the game. They played us a little differently than they had (against) their previous four opponents. We really set the tone.

UNC scored their first points with 2:06 left in the first half on a seven-yard pass from McCaffrey, a graduate transfer from Michigan, to Kassidy Woods, a transfer from Washington state.

The Bears looked set to score again in the last minute before halftime. It was then that Zambrano, a sophomore cornerback, landed his first career interception, which he returned for 39 yards into UNC territory with 33 seconds left in halftime.

“It was unreal, very shocking, but I know I can make these games,” Zambrano said. “There is more to come.”

Nineteen seconds later, Isaiah Ifanse rushed for a 17-yard touchdown to give the Bobcats a 27-7 lead at halftime.

MSU’s lead grew to 40-7 in the three quarters, thanks to two more field goals from Glessner and a 44-yard touchdown pass from McKay to true first-year wide receiver Andrew Patterson. It was Patterson’s first catch and first touchdown in his MSU career.

Patterson got game time in large part because Redshirt junior wide receiver Coy Steel was out with an injury he sustained last week. McCutcheon said Patterson had “a nervous smile” before entering Saturday’s game, and he told Patterson, “Get ready for the ball,” on the game that ended with Patterson in the zone. goals.

“I think it was his second game as a college player, and he’s getting a touchdown,” Vigen said with a smile. “Andrew kind of waited backstage all through fall camp and those first few games and hasn’t been on the pitch so what a way to break into college football. I think we’ll see more of Andrew Patterson moving forward.

With that position on the goal line early in the fourth quarter, the Bobcats tied their lowest points allowed in a game this season. They beat Drake 45-7 on Sept. 11, and the most points an opponent has scored against them in five games is 19 for Wyoming, who won 19-16 in the season opener. two teams. MSU allowed 17 points in last week’s 13-point victory at Portland State, and they beat San Diego 52-10 a week earlier.

“That has to be our foundation, to be able to stop the race and really chase the quarterback, and I think we did it pretty well today,” said Vigen.

McKay finished 15 of 23 for 276 yards, the touchdown to McCutcheon and no turnovers. Ifanse rushed for 114 yards and the lone touchdown in 20 carries, and rookie Elijah Elliott added 107 yards on 11 carries. Redshirt rookie Jaden Smith had the best game of his MSU career, finishing with 75 yards on five receptions.

Okada finished with 10 tackles (two for loss) and senior Troy Andersen added five (three for loss). The Bobcats didn’t record a sack but put pressure on McCaffrey throughout the game, including interceptions from O’Reilly and Zambrano.

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