BOZEMAN — Quarterback Sean Chambers and Montana State made sure an expected result became reality very early Saturday at Bobcat Stadium.
With fellow QB Tommy Mellott sidelined due to injury, Chambers directed five first-half touchdown drives and No. 3-ranked Montana State pounded non-scholarship Stetson 57-20 in its final non-league game of the regular season, bouncing back from last week’s loss on the road to No. 1 South Dakota State.
The Bobcats’ offense rolled up 618 total yards, including 348 on the ground. Chambers and freshman running back Scottre Humphrey each had two rushing TDs in the first half as the Bobcats built a 41-6 advantage.
“Our ability to run the football and stop the run is where it starts,” MSU coach Brent Vigen said. ”I think we’ve got a full complement of running backs right now and that’s probably what showed up as much as anything today. We’ll keep feeding those guys.
”We’ll obviously use our quarterbacks in any time and manner but it was good to see those running backs get going today.”
Due to travel issues, Stetson, a Pioneer Football League team from DeLand, Fla., reportedly did not arrive to Bobcat Stadium until about 11:45 a.m., less than 90 minutes before kickoff. One of the Hatters’ bright spots was Kaderris Roberts, who rushed for 67 yards and the Hatters’ only touchdown.
Turning point: There wasn’t much of a definitive “turning point,” although the game was still competitive, at least on the scoreboard, until Chambers broke off a 30-yard touchdown run with 19 seconds left in the first quarter to put the Bobcats ahead 21-0.
Chambers faked a handoff and ran to his right, made one cut and sprinted untouched to the goal line for his second touchdown of the opening quarter. The three-score difference was far too much for Stetson to answer.
Stat of the game: The Bobcats again did what they do best — run the football. MSU, which came in averaging 307 rushing yards per game, physically overpowered Stetson to the tune of 348 yards on the ground.
Montana State utilized eight runners, led by Jared White’s 80 yards on just four attempts. Julius Davis had 70 yards, Chambers had 55 and Humphrey finished with 53.
Bobcat game balls: QB Sean Chambers (Offense). Chambers was the catalyst early, rushing for two touchdowns in the first quarter as the Cats opened up an insurmountable lead. Chambers also threw the ball with efficiency, finishing 9-for-13 with 140 yards and was out of the game after halftime.
S Rylan Ortt (Defense). In a team effort, the Bobcats’ defense limited Stetson to 125 total yards in the first half and had two takeaways, but it was Ortt who had the most explosive defensive play for MSU, intercepting a Matt O’Connor pass and returning it 28 yards for a TD in the second quarter.
K Brendan Hall (Special teams). Hall missed an extra point try in the first quarter but improved to 4-for-4 on field goals this season with a 36-yarder in the third. The 6-foot-9 Hall also continued to show off his big leg on kickoffs.
What’s next: The season ramps up for real next week with the start of the Big Sky Conference schedule, and Montana State (2-1) has a tough matchup right off the bat on the road against Weber State (2-1), which entered this week ranked No. 9 in the FCS top 25 poll before its loss Saturday to FBS Utah.
The Bobcats beat the Wildcats twice last season, including in a second-round playoff game at Bobcat Stadium. The teams — two of the Big Sky’s flagship schools — have split the past six matchups dating to 2016. Saturday’s game kicks off at 6 p.m. from Stewart Stadium in Ogden, Utah, and will be broadcast on the Montana Television Network.