Posted: Oct 19, 2013 8:37 PM by Ted Dawson
-- Rob Ash has seen this before.
"The second half was exactly why we're won a lot of games here," Montana State's seventh-year head coach said after his Bobcats beat Weber State 34-16 in Ogden on Saturday. "We took the ball away on defense, and got some touchdown drives. Our guys do what they need to do."
That the Wildcats, now 1-7 overall and 0-4 in the Big Sky, stayed in the game well into the second half surprised many. But not MSU's veteran coach. "I'm always concerned, I always expect this type of thing, these types of games," he said of the scrappy Wildcats' upset effort.
On a historic day for him, Bobcat quarterback DeNarius McGhee threw for 313 yards and three touchdowns. That figure put him over the 10,000-yard passing mark, making him the 11th player in college football history to pass that mark and the 1,000-yard rushing plateau. As always, McGhee was unimpressed with personal feats. "That's cool," he said when informed of the milestone, "but you know what I'm going to say. It's about the team getting the win."
When Austin Chipoletti scored with 58 seconds remaining in third quarter to cut the MSU lead to 19-16, it appeared that the Wildcats were poised for late-game heroics. But Brad Daly blocked the extra point, and Steven Bethley returned it 100 yards for a two-point defensive conversion to give MSU a 21-16 lead.
On its next drive, Weber State marched to the Bobcat 20, but Michael Foster stripped the ball from Josh Booker to turn WSU away. A 45-yard pass from McGhee to Brian Flotkoetter set up a nine-yard dash by Shawn Johnson to give MSU a two-possession advantage. Deonte Flower' interception and 47-yard return on the next drive effectively ended the game.
Weber State performed brilliantly in the first half, answering a Bobcat touchdown on the opening drive with 10 straight points to take a 10-6 advantage late in the first quarter. Shaun McClain drilled a 50-yard field goal on his first attempt of the season. Bo Bolen then rambled 19 yards to give the Wildcats their first lead since the season opener against Stephen F. Austin.
Montana State marched 73 yards on its next drive, but faced one of the game's crucial moments after advancing to the WSU three-yard line. After stops on three straight goal-to-go plays, Cody Kirk barreled into the end zone for his 12th score of the season to give the Bobcats a 12-10 lead.
After Hayden Vick recovered a Weber State fumble on a bad center-quarterback exchange, McGhee hit Brian Flotkoetter on a post play for a 35-yard touchdown to build MSU's lead to 19-10. The Bobcats carried that margin into the half.
Bolen battered the Bobcats in the first half, rushing for 99 yards and a touchdown. Austin Chipoletti was 7-for-13 for 56 yards, but engineered the WSU offense efficiently and effectively. Kirk carried 11 times for 50 yards, but MSU ruled the air in the first half. McGhee threw for 216 yards in the first half, his highest total in the three games since returning from a shoulder injury, and his two touchdown passes in the first half marked the first time he's done that in 2013.
While McGhee starred, Cody Kirk and Shawn Johnson, as always, did some of the hard work near the line of scrimmage. Kirk rushed for 95 yards and a touchdown, while Johnson gained 57 and also scored. Flotkoetter grabbed four passes for 92 yards, while Jon Ellis had four for 89.
Weber State's offense was outstanding, gaining 497 yards on the day, with 25 first downs. The Bobcats rolled up 479 yards, but the MSU defense took the ball away from Weber three times while the offense did not give it away once.
Montana State is now 5-2 on the season, 3-0 in Big Sky play. The Bobcats host UC Davis next Saturday at 2 pm.