MISSOULA — Tucker Yates forced an Adam Eastwood fumble on the 1-yard line and Derek Marks recovered, securing a 29-25 victory for Montana State in the 118th meeting between MSU and the Montana Grizzlies.
Trailing 29-25 with 2:57 to play, Montana kick returner Malik Flowers took a kickoff 47 yards to the 50-yard line, before quarterback Dalton Sneed orchestrated a drive that landed in MSU’s red zone in just three plays. Sneed found Jerry Louie-McGee, then Keenan Curran to get the ball to the 9-yard line with 45 seconds to play.
Sneed and Adam Eastwood ran on consecutive plays, settling at the 1-yard line with 14 seconds remaining, but Yates knocked the ball loose and Marks recovered to give MSU its third-straight win in the series.
The game was a tale of two halves, however, as Montana shot out to a 22-0 lead. In the opening three minutes, Sneed threw a shovel pass to Gabe Sulser for a 1-yard score, then Eastwood plunged into the end zone from a yard out early in the second quarter for a 14-0 lead. Sneed connected with Samuel Akem for a 37-yard scoring play with 8:15 remaining in the half for the 22-0 lead.
But Troy Andersen scored the first of three rushing touchdowns before halftime, bringing the Bobcats within 22-7. He scored twice in the fourth quarter, successfully converting a 2-point conversion on the second touchdown, to get MSU within three. Logan Jones’ touchdown with 2:19 remaining gave the Bobcats the lead for good.
TURNING POINT: Montana State’s goal line stand. UM appeared to have the game in hand, leaving little time for MSU, but Yates saved the game with his forced fumble. The Bobcats’ previous defensive drive was also key, with Grant Collins forcing and recovering a fumble from Sneed, leading to Jones’ 13-yard touchdown run.
STAT OF THE GAME: Montana State, which was held scoreless for the first 29:37, scored 22 points in the final quarter, rallying for the win. The Bobcats were out-gained on offense, 454-387, cutting into that deficit late in the game.
GAME BALLS: Andersen, Montana State’s defensive line. Andersen led the comeback in the second half, scoring a pair of fourth quarter touchdowns. He finished with 107 rushing yards and three scores, plus 158 passing yards.
WHAT’S NEXT: Montana State awaits Sunday’s FCS selection show to learn its potential playoff fate. Predictions earlier in the week saw Montana State hosting a first round playoff game at Bobcat Stadium. The selection show begins at 10:30 a.m. MST.