BOZEMAN — Friday night’s historic 55-7 win over William & Mary was among the more convincing and important wins of all time at Montana State, but before kickoff - and away from the Stadium lights, the night began with a tribute to undoubtedly the greatest Bobcat of all time.
During the pre-game Cat Walk, players stopped at the statue of legendary coach Sonny Holland out side of Bobcat Stadium. They met with members of the 1976 National Championship team, and embraced his surviving family following Holland’s passing last weekend at age 84.
“He’s obviously earned the respect and all of the praises that have been given to him this week,” said Montana State football coach Brent Vigen. “To keep winning for him, that’s certainly on our minds.”
A fitting start to what would soon become a celebration of Bobcat football inside the stadium, where an already historic season added a few more milestones.
Tailback Isaiah Ifanse broke the Montana State career rushing record on a 68-yard touchdown run in the first half, the longest rush in Bobcat playoff history. The senior ended the night with 11 carries for 162 yards pushing his career total to 3,715 yards. He surpassed Ryan Johnson’s career mark of 3,646 yards rushing from 1998-2002.
Ifanse, who already eclipsed Johnson’s single season rushing record in 2021, was playing in just his second game back after missing the regular season recovering from offseason surgery.
“We’re not guaranteed to have another home game,” Ifanse said. “So just doing it in the last game of the year and also just thinking about the beginning of the year and rehabbing through injury makes it even more special.”
Meanwhile Montana State place kicker Blake Glessner broke the single season scoring record on a 50 yard field goal, which also happened be the longest in MSU playoff history.
The sophomore has converted 22 field goals and 71 extra points this season for 137 points. Troy Andersen, now playing for the Atlanta Falcons, previously held the record with 128 points in 2018.
“Blake has been a weapon from his field goals perspective but also his kickoffs,” Vigen said. “He’s been rock solid this year and continues to get the job done.”
With five rushing touchdowns on Friday night, MSU also broke the program record for rushing scores in a single season with 47 - topping the previous mark of 43 set in 2014.
On Special Teams, Taco Dowler returned a punt 79 yards for a touchdown while Marqui Johnson recorded an 87 yard return. Both marks are postseason records for the Bobcats.
Meanwhile, the Bobcat defense nearly pitched a shutout if not for a late William & Mary touchdown, holding the Tribe to 197 total yards of offense. The 48-point margin of victory was also a postseason program record.
“Being physical and stopping the run and just being gap sound,” said linebacker Callahan O’Reilly. “Everybody doing their job is really what it comes down to. You got a guy in every gap, they’re not going to go very far. Just getting off blocks, tackling and playing on our fundamentals.”
Montana State extended its home winning streak to 20 games. The Bobcats will advance to the FCS semifinals for a second straight season (third if you remove the cancelled 2020 season) and will travel to South Dakota State for a rematch with the No. 1 Jackrabbits.
Montana State handed SDSU a 31-17 loss in Bozeman last year in the FCS semifinals, which sent the Bobcats to their first title game appearance since the 1984 championship season.
Friday night's game marked the final home appearance of the season for the Bobcats. And what a fitting way to go out.
“Shout out to the crowd, they showed up tonight - 8:15 p.m. game, cold as hell and that stadium was rocking,” O’Reilly said. “So that was pretty awesome to be able to have potentially the last game in Bobcat Stadium be that one. It’s pretty high up on the list and pretty cool.”