BOZEMAN -- The Montana State football team earned a gritty win over Western Illinois on Saturday, but the game showed that the Bobcats have a lot they need to clean up, specifically penalties.
MSU was flagged 12 times in their 23-14 win over the Leathernecks, and it cost them more than just the 92 yards they were brought back in total. A penalty flag negated a pick-six by Damien Washington that could have shifted the game in the second half, and Lane Sumner also had a kick-return touchdown taken off the board because of a flag.
Head coach Jeff Choate said the silly mistakes need to stop this week against Norfolk State, but he doesn't want the fear of a penalty to take away from his team's toughness.
"I don't think we played our best football by any stretch of the imagination," Choate said. "It was a sloppy game, we had 12 penalties for 92 yards, but here's the real story on those 12 penalties: It took away two touchdowns, a possession and 263 yards of field position. That had a huge impact on this game. ... It's very difficult to overcome the momentum that's created in those situations and then it's gone. ... I'm never going to take away our guys' aggressiveness. If we get aggressive penalties, that means we are playing the way we need to play. If we are physically dominating somebody, I'll take the 10 yards and leave the message, and so that's what I want our guys to take away."
The Bobcats (2-1) kick off against Norfolk State (1-2) at 1 p.m. Saturday at Bobcat Stadium.