DES MOINES, Iowa — No one knows better than Preston Gale that football can be fickle.
So when Bobcat defensive end Brad Daly went down after one series in Saturday’s 34-24 win over Drake and Gale’s number was called, he was ready.
“It’s never good when a guy gets hurt,” said MSU’s junior defensive end whDo missed all of 2011 with a knee injury, “but when it happens the next guy has to be ready.”
Gale and the rest of his defensive line mates, who were covering for injured starting tackle Zach Minter, as well, proved up to the task. MSU held Drake to just 96 yards in the second half, coming back from a 17-14 halftime deficit to seal the win.
“My old thing is getting a hat on a hat, and we made some halftime adjustments that allowed us to do that,” said MSU coach Rob Ash. “It was important for us to get some things figured out at halftime, and (offensive line coach) Jason McEndoo did a great job with that.”
It took each team a while to get going offensively. Montana State marched 90 yards late in the first quarter, powered by receiver Tanner Bleskin and running back Cody Kirk – to give MSU a 7-0 lead. TJ James’ one-yard run with 10:44 remaining in the second quarter tied it, but Orenzo Davis scampered 11 yards for a touchdown to help MSU regain the lead.
Key special teams plays keyed each of the latter two drives. Drake extended its scoring drive with a fake punt, with Michael Hudson dashing 30 yards to set up the TD. And Jacob Dines’ muffed punt set up Davis’ score.
Drake closed the first half with a 27-yard Lee Spencer field goal to pull the Bulldogs withing 14-10 at 3:07 in the first half, then Hudson caught a 15-yarder from Mike Piatkowski to give Drake the halftime lead with 22 seconds left.
Drake dominated the first half statistically. The Bulldogs gained 274 yards before halftime, running 45 plays. MSU gained 167 yards. Piatkowski’s 208 yards passing proved the difference.
Drake continued to lead 24-21 entering the fourth quarter, but as the Bobcat defense stiffened the offense broke out. Early in the fourth, Tray Robinson burst through the Bulldog line for a 30-yard run that put MSU up 27-24 with 11:34 left, then on a crucial third down late in the game, Tanner Bleskin made a spectacular catch for a touchdown to seal the win.
“I’m not disappointed or frustrated because it was a close win,” said Ash, who moved into second place on MSU’s all-time victories list against the school he coached for 18 years. He is Drake’s all-time wins leader. “This win will help us down the road.”
The Bobcats’ balanced ground game churned out 168 yards, with Davis gaining 58 and Robinson adding 52. Those two, Kirk, and DeNarius McGhee each scored touchdowns on the ground. McGhee threw for 206 yards, and it wasn’t until his late ally-oop to Bleskin that he extended his string of consecutive games with a touchdown to 27. Bleskin caught six passes for 78 yards.
— MSU Sports Information