DAVIS, Calif. — On a night when UC Davis quarterback Jake Maier set the Aggies’ record for career passing yards and the program celebrated its seniors, Montana State spoiled both achievements with a 27-17 win in a key Big Sky Conference football contest.
Kevin Kassis had seven receptions for 135 yards, including a handful on key third-down conversions, while Travis Jonsen rushed for 93 yards and a touchdown as the Bobcats improved to 5-2 in league play, keeping their postseason hopes alive. Jonsen scored a second-quarter touchdown of 75 yards, while Isaiah Ifanse and Troy Andersen also scored on the ground, with Ifanse’s breaking a 17-all tie to put the Cats ahead for good.
Maier finished with 264 passing yards but didn’t throw a touchdown against the MSU defense, which had an interception in the first half courtesy of Brayden Konkol. Konkol led the Bobcats with seven total tackles.
TURNING POINT: Montana State’s defensive stand on fourth-and-1 at the UC Davis 35-yard line near the end of the third quarter. The Aggies gambled in short yardage but couldn’t pick up the first down, and Tristan Bailey’s 37-yard field goal tied the game at 17 just minutes later. The Bobcats took the lead for good on their next drive, with Ifanse punching in from 5 yards out.
STAT OF THE GAME: Third-down defense. MSU limited UC Davis to a 2-for-13 rate on third down, while also stopping the Aggies on a trio of fourth-down attempts, including a red zone appearance on the opening drive of the game.
GAME BALLS: Kassis, Jonsen, Konkol and Andersen. Kassis was an integral part of Montana State’s moving the chains, giving quarterback Tucker Rovig a place to go on third down. Jonsen had 154 all-purpose yards, but it was his 75-yard touchdown run on third down in the second quarter that sparked the Cats, giving them a 14-10 lead at halftime. Andersen rushed for 38 yards and a touchdown, but he was equally as important on defense, posting six tackles, two for loss, and nearly intercepting Maier on a key possession in the fourth quarter. Konkol’s interception stopped an Aggies drive before the half that may have resulted in points and nearly led to an MSU field goal that was kicked just after the clock expired.
WHAT’S NEXT: Montana State (8-3 overall, 5-2 Big Sky Conference) closes the regular season with the annual Cat-Griz rivalry game at Bobcat Stadium next Saturday, Nov. 23 at noon. No. 4 Montana is coming off an impressive 35-16 win over No. 3 Weber State on Saturday, boosting the Griz to 9-2 overall and 6-1 in Big Sky play. UM sits atop the league standings with the Wildcats (8-3, 6-1) and Sacramento State (8-3, 6-1) entering the final week of the regular season. The Hornets host UC Davis (5-6, 3-4) next Saturday afternoon.