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Kevin Schnepf, Published December 05 2010

Montana State notebook: Bobcats’ offense falls short

BOZEMAN, Mont. – Montana State met the challenge of removing eight inches of snow from the FieldTurf of Bobcat Stadium before Saturday’s playoff football game with North Dakota State.

The challenge of matching up with NDSU’s defense was another matter in the Bison’s 42-17 second-round win in the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs.

“We knew it was going to be a physical game … Montana boys and Dakota boys are tough kids,” said Montana State offensive lineman Mike Person. “We are a little beat up right now.”

That’s because NDSU’s defense shut down Montana State’s explosive offense. The Bobcats entered the game averaging 510 total yards and 40 points in their six wins at home this season. They left Bobcat Stadium on Saturday with only 380 total yards and their lowest scoring output of the season.

“They did a great job,” said Montana State head coach Rob Ash. “But we weren’t as efficient as I thought we would be on offense. We just made too many mistakes.”

The Bobcats ended up turning the ball over four times against a Bison defense that now has 32 takeaways this season. During its 3-8 record last year, the Bison had only 12 takeaways.

The defense also silenced quarterback Denarius McGhee, the redshirt freshman from the Dallas area who was the co-offensive player of the year in the Big Sky Conference. McGhee entered Saturday’s game averaging 267 yards passing with a 63 percent completion percentage.

He was limited to 223 passing yards Saturday.

“They did a good job, but I made some mistakes that you can’t make in playoff games,” said McGhee, who popped his shoulder out late in the game and had to sit out two plays, with the Bison clinging to a 21-17 lead.

Backup quarterback Cody Kempt threw two incompletions before a

30-yard punt helped set up D.J. McNorton’s 37-yard touchdown run that gave the Bison a 27-17 lead.

“It was extremely tough knowing you couldn’t be out there,” McGhee said. “I wish there wasn’t a rule that you had to sit out after an injury. My shoulder was out of its socket and I had to get it back in place.”

Bobcats look at beefing up for next season

Ash, who has built a 29-17 record in his four seasons at Montana State, said his coaching staff normally recruits for speed.

After Saturday’s loss to the Bison, he admitted they may be looking a little harder for size.

“We are undersized,” Ash said. “To a certain extent, the line of scrimmages on both sides of the ball was the difference today. They were very tough up front in both lines. That’s an area where we may have to analyze and look at improving for next year.”

Montana State defensive tackle Dan Ogden was impressed with the Bison the offensive line that helped produced 376 yards rushing.

“They were some big boys,” Ogden said. “They did a good job of walling you out. It’s hard to do anything when you get walled out on your gaps.”

Unable to overcome

the Montana high

Two weeks ago, it was Montana State riding a Rocky Mountain high after knocking off perennial power and rival Montana 21-16 in the regular-season finale in Missoula.

It gave Montana State a share of the Big Sky Conference championship and its first playoff appearance since 2006.

It gave the Bobcats a first-round bye and the homefield advantage on Saturday.

“We were on top of the mountain, but I just don’t think we got over that huge victory, that huge milestone we reached two weeks ago,” Ash said. “I just didn’t feel we had that same urgency we had going into the Montana game.”

“We expected a lot more,” Ogden said. “That’s why it’s leaving a bad taste in our mouth right now. It’s all internal injuries we are dealing with now. We are just suffering from a heartbreak loss.”


Readers can reach Forum Sports Editor

Kevin Schnepf at (701) 241-5549

Schnepf’s NDSU media blog can be

found at www.areavoices.com