BOZEMAN — Entering Saturday’s Top 5 matchup against No. 5 Weber State, a lot of the focus for No. 3 Montana State was on the players that weren’t on the field.
Safety Rhedi Short and offensive tackle Titan Fleischmann suffered season-ending injuries in last week’s game against Northern Colorado. The decimated running back room remains without pre-season all-conference selection Isaiah Ifanse. Safety Rylan Ortt is still dealing with NCAA eligibility issues following a four-game suspension.
But none of that mattered Saturday for MSU coach Brent Vigen. The guys who were on the field led Montana State to a thrilling, emotional 43-38 win over the Wildcats in what players and coaches were dubbing the wildest game they’ve ever participated in.
“We got a good group of guys that are out there, and you're going to have some guys that aren't on the field one Saturday or the next. And the guys out there we trust completely and they're getting better and better,” Vigen said. “Being a good football team is about having more than the guys that are named starters in the preseason. So I'm tired of hearing about who we don't have on the field. I want to applaud the guys that are on the field, and I think we need to do that moving forward.”
This game had everything:
- An FCS record four safeties, all coming on snaps that went over the head of the Weber State punter and out the back of the end zone.
- A 100-yard kick return and a 91-yard punt return touchdown.
- Breakneck momentum swings.
- A Bobcat quarterback record 273 yards rushing from Tommy Mellott who also rushed for three scores and passed for another.
- A massive swing when Montana State rallied from a 24-9 first half deficit with 34 unanswered points.
- A day that saw MSU extend it’s program record home winning streak to 17 games.
It was a strange game, is what we’re trying to say. But one this team believes they’re built to win.
“It's just, it's this mentality of ‘won't be beat.' Some teams have this mentality of ‘can't be beat’ and that's more so arrogant,” said senior safety Ty Okada. “You know ‘won't be beat’ means there's going to be things that happen in the game and and we're going to be able to respond because we refuse to just let things happen. We're going to come back. We're going to fight, scratch, claw, do everything in our power to not be beat.”
It’s on to a much needed bye week for Montana State (7-1, 5-0 Big Sky Conference) which Vigen says they’ll use to improve, both health-wise and on the practice field. Then, it’s three more conference games with road clashes at Northern Arizona and Cal Poly before returning home for the 121st Brawl of the Wild against No. 7 Montana.
“It’s our hope we can come out of this this two-week stretch a better team and I think we're all ready for a bye,” Vigen said.