BOZEMAN — Reaching the quarterfinal round of the FCS playoffs has become commonplace at Montana State, and the Bobcats' quarterback duo of "Big Cat" and "Little Cat" made sure this season was no exception.
Tommy Mellott, a.k.a. Little Cat, rushed for 158 yards and threw for 91 yards while fellow QB Sean Chambers, a.k.a. Big Cat, threw two touchdown passes and ran for another as MSU held off Weber State 33-25 in a second-round FCS playoff game Saturday at Bobcat Stadium.
The game was a rematch of a wild matchup between the Big Sky Conference rivals on Oct. 22 in Bozeman, which the Bobcats won 43-38. Weber State had ideas of reversing its fortunes from that first meeting, but Mellott and Chambers helped the Bobcats out to a 23-point lead that was just too great — despite what was a bumpy ending.
“Obviously there were a bunch of big plays in the third quarter to open it up, and we ultimately finished but it wasn’t as pretty a fourth quarter,” MSU coach Brent Vigen said during a postgame press conference. “But the end result is the end result, we got a win and we move on.”
Chambers scored MSU's first touchdown on a 2-yard run in the first quarter to put his team up 7-3. He also threw a 28-yard touchdown dart to tight end Derryk Snell in the third quarter and later found Willie Patterson on a 47-yard reverse flea-flicker for another score in the fourth.
That was part of a run of 23 consecutive points scored by MSU, which proved to be more than enough cushion. Chambers threw for 75 yards and rushed for 92 more.
Mellott, meanwhile, was his usual slippery self in the running game. Mellott carried the ball 22 times and averaged 7.1 yards per rush In the passing game, Mellott completed 13 of 19 passes.
The Bobcats rushed for 388 yards as a team, including 91 from running back Isaiah Ifanse, who returned to the lineup for the first time in nearly a year due to extended rehab and recovery following knee surgery.
Weber State didn't go quietly. The Wildcats scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter — a 31-yard pass from backup QB Kylan Weisser to Jon Christensen and an 8-yard throw from Weisser to Hayden Meacham — but the Bobcats were able to close the game on the strength of their running game on the final possession.
“There certainly were ebbs and flows in that game,” Vigen said. “Defensively we gave up the early score, then really played well for a couple quarters. Offensively we were pretty steady, but we were kicking field goals instead of touchdowns.”
MSU was without defensive coordinator Willie Mack Garza, who is suspended due to being charged with DUI two weeks ago in Bozeman. Linebackers coach Bobby Daly called the defense against Weber State, and the Bobcats held the Wildcats to 317 total yards and forced a turnover.
The win was Montana State's 19th in a row at home, and sends the team into the quarterfinals for the third time in the past four years — with the only exception being the non-season in 2020 caused by the pandemic.
The fourth-seeded Bobcats (11-1) will host No. 5 seed William & Mary (11-1) next week at Bobcat Stadium with a berth in the semifinals on the line.