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Ground game, efficient Tommy Mellott lead No. 3 Montana State to Gold Rush rout of Utah Tech

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Posted at 9:27 PM, Sep 02, 2023
and last updated 2023-09-03 14:49:10-04

BOZEMAN — Isaiah Ifanse became an all-time great Montana State running back wearing No. 22.

Scottre Humphrey, a freshman now wearing that number in the wake Ifanse’s offseason transfer, looks like he’ll be able to fill those shoes just fine. Him and several others, to be sure.

Humphrey rushed for a game-high 114 yards as the No. 3-ranked Bobcats used a dominant ground attack for a 63-20 season-opening “Gold Rush” victory over Utah Tech on Saturday at Bobcat Stadium. The Bobcats rushed for 407 in what seemed like a replay of several team rushing performance from last season.

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Meanwhile, quarterback Tommy Mellott rushed for 79 yards, passed for 157 more and threw a touchdown pass. The Butte High grad completed 8 of 14 passes. Fellow MSU signal-caller Sean Chambers rushed for two scores.

Another freshman, Jared White, had two touchdowns, including a 79-yard run in the fourth quarter that made the score 56-13.

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Montana State's Caden Dowler, center, celebrates an interception during a game against Utah Tech on Saturday, Sept. 2, 2023, at Bobcat Stadium in Bozeman.

Turning point: In the first quarter, defensive end David Alston dove to intercept a deflected pass to give the Bobcats the ball at the Utah Tech 15. Three plays later Chambers ran into the end zone to give the Cats a two-possession lead at 14-0 with 2:30 left in the first quarter.

After Utah Tech booted a field goal, MSU made the score 21-3 when Mellott rolled right and threw a 47-yard dart for a touchdown to White and the Bobcats were well on their way.

Stat of the game: The Bobcats had an elite rushing attack last season, averaging more than 310 ground yards per game. It was much of the same on Saturday.

Using eight different ball carriers, MSU piled up 407 rushing yards, averaging 7.7 a pop. Wisconsin transfer Julius Davis also scored a rushing touchdown for MSU, an 8-yarder late in the second quarter.

Bobcat game balls: RB Scottre Humphrey (offense). The 5-foot-11, 207-pound Humphrey was a load all night, taking charge of the Bobcats’ running game. Humphrey averaged 8.1 yards per carry and his third touchdown put the Cats ahead 42-10 with 6:30 left in the third quarter.

DB Caden Dowler (defense). Dowler, a Billings West product, jumped in front of a Boone Abbott pass for an interception with 1:49 left in the second quarter to produce a Julius Davis rushing TD and a 35-0 lead. Dowler later sprawled out to break up another pass.

K Brendan Hall (special teams). Hall, a 6-foot-9 transfer from Southern Methodist, didn’t attempt a field goal but he did make all nine of his point-after tries and showed off his big leg by booting all of his kickoffs out of the end zone.

What’s next: It’ll be a game with major national implications next Saturday when the Bobcats (1-0) travel to Brookings, S.D., to face defending national champion and No. 1-ranked South Dakota State (1-0). It’s a rematch of semifinal meetings from each of the past two years, with the Cats winning in 2021 and the Jackrabbits victorious last year.