BOZEMAN — Rob Ash, a self-professed history guy with a pair of college degrees to back him up, spent a long day Thursday with no thoughts of history at hand.
“It was a long day for me Thursday, personally,” Ash said of the hours spent before the first home night game ever played at Montana State. “I was very immersed in the game, and didn’t think about that (historical aspect).”
Ash and the Bobcats gave MSU fans only good memories of the historical occasion Thursday – witnessed by a stadium-record 20,767 — by beating Division II foe Chadron State 33-6 to open the 2012 campaign. Montana State’s defense held the Eagles to just 135 yards and a 1-for-14 showing on third down.
“I think we have something to be proud of,” senior defensive tackle Zach Minter said of his unit’s performance. “We played very well on defense tonight.”
Not prone to understatement, Minter may nonetheless have soft-petaled the Bobcat stop unit’s efforts. The visitors logged just one first down in the first quarter, and had three at halftime, and never gained more than three in a single quarter. Chadron State threw for just 35 yards passing on a 9-for-24 night by two quarterbacks combined.
While MSU’s defense was dominant, the Bobcat offense found a groove in the middle of the game. Much of that came when junior quarterback DeNarius McGhee found his rhythm. McGhee completed 29 of 40 passes, throwing an interception but also tossing four touchdown passes.
“DeNarius, with his creativity — unvelievable,” marvelled Ash. “Three of those touchdowns were plays where he had to make something happen.”
McGhee benefitted from a balanced ground game. Cody Kirk gained 91 yards on 15 carries, and in his first game action since 2010 Orenze Davis chipped in 63 yards. McGee rushed for 34 himself.
“I thought Cody and Orenzo did a good job of breaking tackles, being patienty, taking their lumps but coming back and being productive,” Ash said.
Much of the focus during the off-season fell on MSU’s youthful offensive line, featuring a pair of freshmen and four players total making their first starts on the Bobcat offensive front. McGhee, for one, was impressed. “I thought they did a really good job,” he said. “I didn’t feel much pressure all game.”
Ash, however, brought the momentous event full-circle with a history-oriented viewpoint. “We can revel in the history,” he said wryly, “now that it is history.”
Complete stats: CSC-MSU
— MSU Sports Information