LARAMIE, WYOMING — (EDITOR'S NOTE: MONTANA STATE ATHLETICS PRESS RELEASE)
The Montana State football team held a lead for a majority of its 2021 debut, but Wyoming capitalized late scoring on its final three drives to fend off the Bobcats for a 19-16 victory in front of a near sellout crowd of 27,007 fans at War-Memorial Stadium on Saturday.
Montana State took the first lead of the game following an interception by safety Jeffrey Manning in Wyoming territory that put the 'Cats at the Pokes' 15-yard line. The very next play had quarterback Matt McKay connect with Lance McCutcheon on a 15-yard touchdown pass at the 11:43 mark of the first quarter.
The Bobcat defense had a strong start to the day forcing three consecutive punts and a turnover on downs – behind a fourth down stop by Chase Benson – on Wyoming's next four possessions. The Cowboys made a 37-yard field goal with 3:15 remaining in the second quarter. MSU's Blake Glessner had a 47-yard field goal attempt blocked before the end of the half, but neither team took advantage as the two sides went to halftime with a 7-3 margin.
Three offensive drives stalled between the Bobcats and Cowboys over the course of the third quarter as the score remaining 7-3 heading into the final 15 minutes of action. Wyoming took its first lead of the day on an 8-play, 52-yard drive that ended on a 2-yard rushing touchdown by Xazavian Valladay.
MSU responded with Isaiah Ifanse churning up 45 yards on the ground. The Bobcats eventually had to settle for a long range field goal, but this time Glessner split the upright on a 53-yard kick to put Montana State ahead 10-9.
The Cowboys offense hit a groove and ran the clock for a 6:20 span. Wyoming went on a drive of 13 plays and 67 yards. The Pokes would a 25-yard field goal to go ahead again, 12-10.
Montana State's offense moved down the field on the ensuing possession. A facemask penalty on an Ifanse carry moved the ball near midfield, then on second down McKay hit McCutcheon on a 30-yard pass just short of the pylon with the Bobcat receiver hauling in the pass at the 1-yard line. McKay hit Treyton Pickering in the end zone on the next play and the 'Cats held a 16-12 edge with 2:17 remaining.
Wyoming's next drive started following a touchback and immediately quarterback Sean Chambers threw two completions for 32 yards into MSU territory. The Cowboys worked their way down field and with 47 seconds left on the clocks Chambers completed a 21-yard touchdown pass to Treyton Welch to put the Pokes ahead. MSU moved the chains once on its final possession, but the 'Cats just entered into Wyoming territory on an Ifanse reception as the Bobcat running back was downed in bounds and the game clock expired.
McKay finished his debut at quarterback for the Bobcats by going 19-for-28 with 200 yards passing. Ifanse led the Bobcats on the ground with 103 yards. McCutcheon hauled in five receptions for 71 yards to pace MSU's receiving core. The Bobcat defense was led by Troy Andersen who totaled a team-high 11 tackles and also registered a pass breakup. Nolan Askelson and Daniel Hardy each had sacks while Zambrano added a pass breakup.
Montana State returns to Bozeman for its next two games. The Bobcats host Drake at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 11, and follow that with a 1 p.m. matchup versus San Diego on Saturday, Sept. 18.