The No. 3 Montana State Bobcats defeated the No. 13 Montana Grizzlies 55-21 in the Brawl of the Wild at Bobcat Stadium.
A strong Cats rushing attack and numerous griz miscues allowed MSU to defeat their Missoula rival for the fifth time in their last six matchups.
The Bobcat offense did the most damage on the ground, scoring five rushing touchdowns and rushing for 439 yards (nearly 7 yards per attempt) on 63 attempts. Quarterback Tommy Mellott led all rushers with 141 yards. As for airplay, Mellott had just six completions for 104 yards in eight attempts.
Four of the Cats’ seven touchdowns came from non-running backs carrying the rock; others came from a defensive fumble recovery in the end zone and a tight end-to-tight end trick play.
Montana State set the tone early, driving 75 yards in two and a half minutes on its opening drive and capping it with a short touchdown run to the belly by Mellott.
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 important play of the first quarter, however, came from 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 on the open side Ball for a touchdown giving the Cats a 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.
Montana State had the biggest lead of the day, 41 points, when Treyton Pickering hit an 18-yard haul by Treyton Pickering from fellow tight end Derryk Snell early in the fourth quarter.
The Griz responded late with their first result since first possession when Isiah Childs found the end zone from a yard out, but another quick result, this time from full-back RJ Fitzgerald, brought the Bobcats back into the top 55 with just over three minutes left -14.
The final points of the day came with less than two minutes left on a 32-yard connection between Daniel Britt and Cole Grossman that sealed the final score of 55-21.
Victory for Montana State in the 121st The Brawl of the Wild brings the all-time streak to 73-42-5 in Montana’s favour.
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 (10-1, 8-0 Big Sky) finishes its regular-season roster undefeated in FCS play and earns at least a chunk of the Big Sky title and can win the title straight away, depending on what Sacramento State does against UC later today makes Davis. Montana, meanwhile, finished 7-4 (4-4 Big Sky) and is hoping for an at-large offer for the FCS playoffs.