(Editor’s note: story by Montana State Athletics)
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 on Saturday, Oct. 13.
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 on Oct. 20 and follows that with a trip to Idaho State on Oct. 27.