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Heartbreak in Bozeman: Montana State reflects on playoff loss to North Dakota State

North Dakota State at Montana State
Posted at 5:09 PM, Dec 03, 2023

BOZEMAN — No. 6-seeded Montana State's playoff hopes were cut short at home on Saturday when North Dakota State blocked the Bobcats' game-tying extra point attempt in overtime.

MSU lost its second-round FCS playoff game 35-34.

"You think about it, but you don’t give much attention to it," Bobcats offensive lineman Justus Perkins said, referring to the mindset of getting ready to kick the extra point. "And I was like, 'Obviously if it gets blocked, we lose. But that’s not going to happen.' And then, you know, it happens. And you’re like, 'Oh. Oh, shoot.'"

This is the second game Montana State lost this season that came down to game-tying kick attempts, the first being a 24-21 loss to Idaho on Oct. 28.

"Oh boy," Bobcats coach Brent Vigen sighed. "I’m beyond frustrated. You know, ultimately, that’s a piece of the game that you have to excel in if you’re going to do the things we want to do, and far too often that didn’t happen for us."

Vigen explained why the team did not opt to go for two points in that situation following Scottre Humprey’s touchdown on Montana State's first overtime possession.

"We scored in one play," Vigen said. "You know, we’ve been knocking extra points through. We should be able to knock extra points through. That hasn’t been the way it’s gone."

The Bobcats were playing in overtime without quarterback Tommy Mellott, who early went out of the game with injury. Before leaving, he dominated the gridiron, flashing all aspects of his game. He threw for over 200 yards and two touchdowns, while rushing for just over 150 yards and two more touchdowns.

"Tommy was a warrior (Saturday)," Vigen said. "I thought that the throws he made and certainly the runs — I mean, that’s the type of performance we needed from him and he gave it to us. Really unfortunate that it wasn’t ultimately enough because I think he did everything he could."

Mellott personifies what it means to uphold the quarterback position, being the leader he is for the team.

"Like coach was saying, Tommy’s just a warrior," Perkins said. "It’s always like, you feel a pit in your stomach when something like that happens. ... You kind of have to regroup, understand where we’re at in the game plan, and obviously it’s nice when you have such a gifted quarterback in Sean Chambers."

Looking back at this season, it ended short of the ultimate goal of winning a national championship.

"There was one outcome of this season that was probably going to satisfy us, and we’re far from that," Vigen said.

"It’s definitely immediate heartbreak because you think about all the seniors," Perkins said. "You know, all the work you put in up until this point, and to have it go out like that, yeah, it definitely hurts."

While they were just one point and one blocked kick away from keeping their ultimate goal alive, the Bobcats weren't claiming any moral victories Saturday.

"You can sit and say, 'Well, we were so close.' But we’re not interested in that right now," Vigen said.