Mellott leads Bobcats to championship game

BOZEMAN — Another huge game by Tommy Mellott has Bobcat Nation ready to party like it’s 1984.

The 2020 Butte High graduate had a hand in all four Montana State touchdowns Saturday, and the Bobcats beat South Dakota State 31-17 in the semifinals of the NCAA FCS playoffs at a chilly Bobcat Stadium.

Montana State will take on North Dakota State in the championship game Jan. 8 at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas. The Bobcats are looking to win it all for the first time since that December day 37 years ago.

Mellott ran for 155 yards and two touchdowns. He also passed for a career-best 233 yards and two more scores. He completed 10 of 15 passes.

The Bobcat defense was able to shut down the Jackrabbits high-powered offense, getting a pair of sacks from senior All-America Daniel Hardy and an interception by Simeon Woodard, his fourth of the season. All-American senior linebacker Troy Andersen, a Dillon product, led all players with 10 tackles.

Mellott’s 17-yard scoring pass to senior Lance McCutcheon iced the game, giving MSU its 31-17 advantage in the fourth quarter. On the final play of the third quarter, Mellott squirted through for a 3-yard score, breaking the halftime score of 17-all as SDSU was unable to find the end zone in the second half.

In the first half, Mellott rushed for 100 yards on 16 carries and threw for 149 more, including a 64-yarder to Nate Stewart for the game’s first score.

MSU’s second score came on a Mellott keeper from 4 yards out. The key play was Mellott’s 33-yard pass to tight end Treyton Pickering. His access to the end zone came on a block by Jaharie Marton, who along with Elijah Elliott was filling in for the absence of MSU All-American Isaiah Ifanse, who was injured in last week’s win at Sam Houston State.

McCutcheon was Mellott’s favorite receiver, hauling in four passes for 98 yards. The yardage gave the senior from Bozeman 1,113 on the season, the third best single season total in Bobcat history.