In what Head Coach Rob Ash called “the most complete game we’ve played,” the fourth ranked Bobcats (7-1, 4-1) dominated the University of North Dakota (4-5, 2-4) in every aspect of the game, winning 55-10 during Pink Week, where players and coaches wore pink to support cancer research. “I might have to wear this pink hat for more games,” said Ash. “It’s good luck.”
Luck had little to do with it, but the run game and the return of MSU running back Cody Kirk certainly did. Kirk finished with 160 of the Bobcats’ 436 yards rushing and scored three touchdowns on 25 carries.
Kirk said “the O-line did a tremendous job,” but Ash insisted, “His return was outstanding…He’s one of the most inspiring players I’ve ever coached…We missed him.”
Orenzo Davis also had a huge game, rushing for 145 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries. Shawn Johnson added another 70 yards on just six carries and scored the first touchdown of the game on a 41-yard pass from DeNarius McGhee. McGhee completed 24 of 32 passes for 259 yards and three touchdowns. Many of the 17,137 fans filtered out of the stadium at halftime when the score was already 28-7.
UND’s offense couldn’t move the ball against the Bobcat defense, and their high flying aerial attack that amassed a school record 704 yards last week against the Grizzlies was shut down by constant pressure on quarterback Braden Hanson, who was sacked eight times. UND also punted 10 times.
Ash said of his game plan, “If you want to stop a good offense, don’t play fair. Don’t let them have the ball.” UND possessed the ball 10 minutes less than the Cats and had 515 fewer yards on offense.
The performance by the Cats was something special considering their devastating loss two weeks ago to Eastern Washington, where they gave up 24 points on turnovers.“What fixed the turnovers was the loss,” Ash said.
When MSU defensive end Caleb Schreibeis was told that UND head coach Chris Mussman called MSU the best team in the Big Sky Conference he replied, “I’d agree with him…I knew all along what this team is capable of.”
With Eastern Washington and Cal Poly taking losses this week, MSU needs Northern Arizona to lose so they can stand atop the Big Sky Conference.
“You can’t take any wins for granted in this conference,” Ash said.
The Bobcats hit the road next weekend to play Sacramento State, who is coming off their upset against Cal Poly. The next and final regular season home game is Nov. 10 at 1:35 p.m. against Portland State.