BOZEMAN – With many legendary former Montana State football players on hand, the legend of a couple current Bobcats grew on Saturday.
Quarterback DeNarius McGhee threw for 387 yards and Cody Kirk scored two touchdowns as MSU cruised to a 41-16 Homecoming win over Northern Colorado. The Bobcat defense forced Northern Colorado three-and-outs on the first three Bears possessions, registered four sacks, and forced the game’s only turnover. And all this came in front of a crowd of 18,637 which included over nearly 30 members of Montana State’s 2002 Big Sky Championship football team.
“Our coaches emphasized that we needed to get out to a great start this week,” said McGhee, who raised his career record to 23-6 as Montana State’s starting quarterback. “I think we had more of a sense of urgency in this game. That was on the top of our minds this week.”
McGhee was a main contributor to that quick start, tossing a nine-yard touchdown pass to Tray Robinson on MSU’s first possession to stake the Cats to a 7-0 lead. Cody Kirk’s 14-yard run on the next possession pushed the lead to 14-0, and the Bobcats added seven more when Kirk bulled his way in from two yards out on the team’s next drive.
But MSU’s quick start really got its start on the game’s first drive, when the Bobcat defense forced the Bears to punt after three plays. In fact, the Bobcats forced punts on NC’s first three drives.
“I thought the defense really came out and started fast,” said senior defensive tackle Brian Bignell, seeing his first game action of the season after injuries delayed the start of his 2012 season. “We got them in third-and-long on the first three possessions, and that’s huge for us.”
The Bears and Bobcats battled on mostly even terms in the middle quarters. MSU led 31-13 at halftime and 38-16 after three quarters. But the Bobcats’ ground game chewed up most of the second half, holding the ball for nearly 21 of the 30 minutes after the break. The Bobcats also remained brilliant in third- and fourth-down situations. MSU converted 9 of their 15 third downs, along with its only fourth down.
The Bobcats out-gained Northern Colorado 564 yards to 266, much of it on the strength of McGhee’s outstanding afternoon. But McGhee’s day was fueled by an improving offensive line – “Those guys are improving all the time,” he said – and receiver Tanner Bleskin. The junior who is emerging as McGhee’s go-to receiver caught 10 passes and surpassed the 100-yard receiving mark for the second straight week.
Montana State raised its record to 4-0, 1-0 in the league, while Northern Colorado fell to 1-3, 0-1 in Big Sky action. The Bobcats travel to Southern Utah next week, while NC is idle.
– MSU Sports Information