Bobcats fall in Texas

NACOGDOCHES, Texas — On a night when Montana State and Stephen F. Austin combined to throw for 700 yards, a running back made the difference.

Lumberjack junior Gus Johnson rushed for 157 yards and three touchdowns, leading SFA to a 52-38 win over Montana State in steamy Nacogdoches on Saturday. The Lumberjacks piled up 567 total yards, while MSU amassed 415. Lumberjack quarterback Brady Attaway threw for 392, while Jake Bleskin had 308 passing yards in his second start as a Bobcat.

SFA 52-MSU 38 stats

“The thing that they did was they were able to run the football,” said MSU coach Rob Ash. “That kept us off balance. Most teams we play, we’re able to stop the run. We weren’t able to make them one-dimensional, and that made them hard to stop.”

Montana State used a strong third quarter to gain control of the game. Counting the late moments of the first half, MSU used a 21-0 run to grab a 38-31 lead with 11:34 to play. But the Lumberjacks countered with an 80-yard scoring drive, then after stopping MSU marched 77 yards for the crucial winning score. An Oratavius Hypolite interception return of 25 yards for a touchdown with 26 seconds left sealed the win.

“We ran into a hot offense tonight,” Ash said. “Explosive offenses can be like good-shooting basketball teams, they get on a roll and it’s really hard to stop. I thought we played very well in the third quarter, we stopped them from scoring and got the only points of the quarter. But they answered in the fourth quarter, and credit’s to them.”

Stephen F. Austin turned the game into the type of shootout most people expected early on. After forcing MSU into a three-and-out after the opening kickoff, the Lumberjacks marched to the Bobcat one-yard line. The Bobcat defense stiffened and held SFA to a field goal, but the game’s tempo was set.

The Bobcats moved into SFA territory on the team’s second offensive drive, but a sack on third-and-six from the Lumberjack 30 yard line by Darren Robinson forced an MSU punt. On the first play of the ensuing drive SFA fumbled, but again MSU was unable to mount a scoring threat and Rory Perez kicked a 38-yard field goal. A 69-yard scoring drive put SFA up 10-3 on its next drive, and after MSU’s first turnover of the year, an interception, the Lumberjacks jumped out to a 17-3 lead.

MSU played uphill for the rest of the half. Jake Bleskin threw a 42-yard touchdown pass to Jon Ellis and a six-yarder to Tanner Bleskin, but each time SFA answered with touchdowns. But the Bobcats got the last word in the first half with a 19-yard run by Jake Bleskin and a stand by the MSU defense which narrowed the halftime deficit to 31-24.

While Jake Bleskin threw for 300 yards for the second straight game, his brother Tanner reached a milestone. His 131 yards receiving vaulted him into first place on MSU’s all-time receiving list, past his friend and former teammate Elvis Akpla with 2,268 yards. His 160 catches is third in school history and 25th in Big Sky Conference annals.

Montana State falls to 2-2 on the season, while Stephen F. Austin is 2-2 as well. MSU plays at North Dakota next Saturday.

— MSU Sports Information

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