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Rapid Reaction: Montana State 42, Sam Houston 19

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Posted at 10:00 PM, Dec 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-12 01:27:16-05

HUNTSVILLE, Texas — Tommy Mellott had a hand in five touchdowns and the No. 8-seeded Montana State Bobcats left no doubt, toppling No. 1 Sam Houston 42-19 in the FCS quarterfinals on Saturday.

With the win, the Bobcats advance to the FCS semifinal round for the second time since winning the 1984 FCS (I-AA) title. The Cats will host South Dakota State, who upset No. 5 Villanova earlier in the day.

Photos: Montana State destroys Sam Houston to advance to the semifinal round

Montana State scored on its first drive of the the game on a trick play that resulted in wide receiver Willi Patterson throwing a 4-yard touchdown pass to Mellott. The Cats later took a 14-0 lead after a pick from Tre Webb led to another Mellott-Patterson connection, although Mellott threw this time. The Cats would build a 28-0 lead before Sam Houston could answer, but it was far too little. Mellott would rush for two touchdowns in the second quarter.

Sam Houston, which won the spring 2021 FCS national championship, was led by quarterback Eric Schmid's 354 passing yards and two passing touchdowns.

Lance McCutcheon caught a 68-yard touchdown pass in the third quaretr, and running back Isaiah Ifanse, who rushed for 105 yards, scored a 42-yard touchdown late in the fourth.

Turning point: Lance McCutcheon's third-quarter touchdown. Montana State had built a large lead, but Sam Houston had answered with two scores of its own before McCutcheon's score truly put the game away.

Stat of the game: Turnovers. Montana State collected three interceptions and scored twice off of them. Webb's first-quarter pick gave the Bobcats momentum early that they would never give up.

Game balls: Tommy Mellott and Troy Andersen. In just his second start, Mellott, a redshirt freshman from Butte, rushed for two touchdowns, threw for two and caught another as he continues to lead the Bobcat offense to new heights. Andersen led the stifling Bobcat defense with 10 tackles, including two for a loss.

What's next: Montana State (11-2) will host South Dakota State (11-3) in the FCS semifinals in Bozeman.