Season to be remembered as the end of Rob Ash

This season wasn’t what the Bobcat football team expected it to be. Preseason coaches poll had MSU at number one in the Big Sky Conference, which made for some mighty expectations. With the return of junior Dakota Prukop at quarterback leading the offense after a sophomore season in which he threw for 2,559 yards and passed for 18 touchdowns, it seemed like a safe bet.

The season started off against the Fort Lewis Skyhawks from Durango, Colorado — the Cats lone Division II opponent. The 45-14 steamrolling was a fantastic way to kickoff the season with the defensive highlight of the year coming from a gigantic hit by sophomore Mac Bignell. Next up was the high flying offense of Eastern Washington. This was the first time fans got a glimpse of what would be the biggest issue for the Bobcats all season, and inability to make stops on defense.  However the Bobcat offense almost carried them to victory with an outstanding game from Prukop accounting for 549 yards by himself.

The Cats would remain at .500 till November with wins against Cal Poly, Sacramento State, and East Tennessee. Their losses came at the hands of Northern Arizona, Portland State, and North Dakota. Each loss had the same formula: opposition gets a first half lead and then the offense had to play catch-up and close the gap until the defense would give up a big touchdown.

The week eight loss to North Dakota mathematically eliminated the Bobcats from playoff consideration.The Cats had to bounce back quick, with eventually conference champion Southern Utah at home up next. The Bobcats had not lost at home since September 2014 and were looking to extend the streak. After a strong first half it looked positive for the Cats, but a 19 point third quarter by North Dakota was too much to overcome.

After a road win against Idaho State, the Cats faced off against archrival Montana in the season finale. The Brawl of the Wild presented a chance for the Cats to salvage some of the season. It also was a chance for the Bobcats to ruin the Griz playoff hopes. But it was not to be with the Griz trouncing the Cats 54-35.

The Bobcats finished the season 5-6 overall, 3-5 in the Big Sky Conference, with a 4-2 home record and 1-4 on the road. The offense averaged 41.9 points per game with 215.9 rushing yards and 303.8 passing yards per game. This was good for first in the Big Sky Conference. But Bobcat defense gave up 247.5 rushing yards per game and 225.1 passing yards. Ultimately, the underwhelming season for the Bobcats cost Head Coach Rob Ash his job. Ash had a 70-38 record overall and a 49-23 record against the Big Sky. During his time here at MSU Ash lost only nine times when scoring 30 or more points, however five of those came this season. Illustration by Andrew Waters