After 45 minutes of play, No. 3 Montana State is ahead of No. 13 Montana 41-7 in the Brawl of the Wild at Bobcat Stadium.
A strong Cats rushing attack and numerous griz miscues enabled MSU to defeat its Missoula rival for the fifth time in the last six matchups.
The Bobcat offensive did its damage on the ground, rushing 381 yards in 52 attempts. Quarterback Tommy Mellott is the Cats’ lead rusher with 141 yards. As for airplay, Mellott has only four completions for 89 yards in six attempts.
Four of the Cats’ five touchdowns came from non-running backs who killed the rock; the other came from a defensive fumble recovery in the end zone.
Montana State drove 75 yards in two and a half minutes on its opening drive and capped it off with a short touchdown run from Mellott in the gut.
In response, it took Montana 10 games to find the end zone on their first drive of the game when Malik Flowers clinched a 30-yard shot from Lucas Johnson amid tight coverage.
Montana State then made it a third straight drive with a touchdown and finished again on a 75-yard drive with a Tommy Mellott rushing score, this time from 12 yards.
The most dominant game of the first quarter, however, came to a fourth Grizzlies deficit when a punt attempt sent the ball over punter Patrick Rohrbach’s head on the long snap and sailed into the end zone, where MSU’s Jory Choate landed the free ball for a touchdown, giving the Cats their current 21-7 lead.
This game may have reminded Bobcats fans of an earlier game this season against Weber State, where four errant long shots led the Wildcats to eight points over four safeties.
It was a similar story in the second quarter as Montana State converted a third-and-12 deep in Griz territory to keep a touchdown drive alive before Sean Chambers cleared the end zone on fourth-and-goal from the 1- Yard line up took a three point lead.
Later in the quarter, Johnson fumbled a handoff to Nick Ostmo at the Bobcats 3-yard on a possible touchdown drive from Griz, and MSU’s Callahan O’Reilly fell on the loose ball to keep Montana scoreless .
Montana State ended the first half with a 34-yard field goal from Blake Glessner to give the home team a 24-point lead at halftime.
The Bobcats extended their lead in the third quarter with a 27-yard touchdown rush from Marqui Johnson and another field goal from Glessner, this time from 28 yards.
These teams compete in the 121st edition of Brawl of the Wild. Montana leads the perpetual streak 73-41-5.
By last season, when Montana defeated Montana State 29-10 in Missoula, the Bobcats had beaten the Grizzlies four times in a row.
Montana State is also looking to finish its regular season undefeated in FCS play and win at least a chunk of the Big Sky title while Montana hopes to secure its place in the FCS playoff field.