The Montana State Bobcats steamrolled to a 63-7 victory over East Tennessee State, scoring on six of the their first seven drives. East Tennessee, in its first season since 2003, has not won a game this season. Two of their losses have come at the hands of Division III teams Emory and Henry and Maryville College. MSU Head Coach Rob Ash insisted after the game “It wasn’t about who we were playing, it was about us. We need to pay attention to detail and get better each and every day.”
The Bobcat offense displayed its scoring prowess with long passing plays leading to seven red zone scores. Junior Dakota Prukop completed 15 passes to 10 different receivers for 226 yards and three touchdowns. Sophomore Justin Paige led the wide receivers with two catches, 92 yards and one touchdown. Running back junior Chad Newell also contributed with two of the five rushing touchdowns for MSU. Seven different rushers took part in 205 total yards.
East Tennessee used two different quarterbacks throughout the game with Nick Sexton taking the majority of the snaps. While the Buccaneers were able to put together chunks of yards at a time they were only able to put together one scoring drive and it was in fourth quarter. While certainly held in check, the Bucs showed signs of ability as they continually put pressure on the Cats defense with 376 total yards.
On defense, the Cats have never overpowered a weaker opponent. Led by sophomore Mac Bignell’s 10 tackles and redshirt freshman DeMonte King’s interception, the defense produced four turnovers. The special teams also got involved in the blow out with two punt blocks, and for the second week in a row the Bobcats had a kick return for a touchdown.
East Tennessee certainly has a lot of potential growth in their future. Nineteen freshmen started the game against MSU and East Tennessee only has four players that are not freshman. Coach Ash had praise for the young opponents. “What they are doing is building for the long term,” he said, “they could have gone out and gotten a lot of transfers, but I respect what they are doing with having all freshman.”
While some might question the usefulness of playing such a mediocre team late in the season, Ash thought it was just what they needed by getting some key players healthy and rested, and being able work out some other player’s reps. There was a clear difference in size, speed and ability between these two teams. Hopefully there are no adjustment issues when Montana State faces one of the more stout defenses in the conference next weekend in North Dakota. “There are two or three issues in my mind we are going to have to fix as we go into practice this week,” Ash said. Hopefully the Cats get those kinks worked out before the 12 p.m. kickoff.