Bleskin, Cats top roll to win

BOZEMAN  — Quarterback Jake Bleskin’s first career start may have been the storyline all week, but Montana State’s defense stole the show in the Bobcats’ 26-0 win over Colorado Mesa in Bozeman on Saturday.

Box Score

Bleskin became the first starter since DeNarius McGhee to man the offensive controls for MSU since November, 2009, and threw for 305 yards and two touchdowns. Bleskin was 26-for-35 passing, and 10 of the completions for 95 yards went to his brother Tanner, who had 96 yards receiving. Jon Ellis caught seven passes for 110 yards.

The offensive heroics aside, Montana State’s defense dominated the day. The Bobcats first shutout since 2006 came with an interception for a touchdown by Alex Singleton, four sacks by senior defensive end Brad Daly, and five pass breakups. “As a defense we came out playing really well,” Daly said. “We prepared well all week, and we showed that today.”

It didn’t take long for the game’s strongest theme to emerge. After the Bobcats forced a punt on the first possession of the game, Bleskin dispelled any doubt about his arm strength and the confidence MSU’s coaching staff held in him. He connected with senior receiver Jon Ellis on a 44-yard  bomb to move MSU from its own nine to near midfield. The Cats capped the drive on a 26-yard Rory Perez field goal.

“The first play was good,” Bleskin said when asked when he felt comfortable with the flow of the game. Singleton’s pick-six increased MSU’s lead to 11-0 after a two-point conversion by Mitch Griebel, and in all the Bobcat offense ran 19 plays for 120 yards in the first quarter.

Ash said the design of the opening play was on purpose. “Obviously we didn’t have any qualms about Jake judging from the first play,” he said. “I thought (offensive coordinator Tim Cramsey) might want to change it because of field position, but he was committed to it, we were all committed to it. The whole team knew we were going to run that play if the coverage was right, and they were excited.”

Colorado Mesa came close to spoiling MSU’s shutout twice, but a 51 yard field goal fell short early in the second quarter, and Cole Moore’s interception in the third quarter snuffed out CMU’s final real scoring chance.

“It was cool,” Daly said of the Bobcat shutout. “The defense jelled today. This game was a good confidence builder.”

It should certainly prove that for Jake Bleskin, whose 305 passing yards was second-most by a Bobcat quarterback in a starting debut, behind only Joe Volek’s 358 yards against NAU in 1990.

Bleskin and the Bobcats travel to Nacogdoches, Tex., next week to face Stephen F. Austin on Saturday.

— MSU Sports Information  

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