Live coverage from Bobcat Stadium as Montana State hosts Norfolk State, September 21, 2019.
PREGAME: Montana State (2-1) will close the nonconference portion of its schedule today as it hosts Norfolk State (1-2) of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. at Bobcat Stadium.
MSU, ranked No. 8 in this week’s STATS Top 25 FCS poll, is coming off a 23-14 win on the road last Saturday at Western Illinois. The Bobcats look to win their third consecutive game before opening Big Sky Conference play next week at home against Northern Arizona.
It is the first ever matchup between Montana State at Norfolk State. MSU has never played a team from the MEAC or the state of Virginia.
One pregame note of importance: Tucker Rovig will start at quarterback today for the Bobcats. The sophomore from Meridian, Idaho, takes over for redshirt freshman Casey Bauman, who started the previous three games.
RB Isaiah Ifanse is listed as doubtful to play with a lower-body injury, while LB/RB/QB Troy Andersen could be limited.
FIRST QUARTER: Norfolk State receives the opening kickoff and is forced to punt on its first possession after Bobcats defensive end Bryce Sterk records his sixth quarterback sack of the season. Rovig's first pass goes for 14 yards to Coy Steel to move the chains, and he completes four passes on the possession. But the drive stalls.
Norfolk State quarterback Juwan Carter hits receiver Da'Kendall James for 57 yards over the top, and a roughing the passer foul called on Tyrel Thomas gives the Spartans a first and goal. Carter later hits tight end Anthony Williams for a 6-yard touchdown and a 7-0 lead with 6:13 left in the quarter.
On the Bobcats next possession, they fake what would have been a 44-yard field goal try as holder Jered Padmos flips the ball over his shoulder to kicker Tristan Bailey, and Bailey runs 11 yards to move the chains. On the next play, running back Logan Jones runs 16 yards for a touchdown to tie the game.
MSU takes the lead after Amandre Williams recovers a fumble and Jones again punches it in, this time from 4 yards out. Jones had a 36-yard run on the play prior. The Bobcats take a 14-7 lead with 51 seconds left in the quarter. SCORE: Montana State 14, Norfolk State 7
SECOND QUARTER: The Bobcats add to their lead as Rovig finds a wide-open Coy Steel for a 34-yard touchdown pass, putting MSU up 21-7. Norfolk State, though, cuts into its deficit with a 17-play, 70-yard drive that eats up 8:23, capped by a short pass from Carter to Kevin Johnson to make it 21-14.
But the Bobcats answer with an 8-yard TD from Rovig to Travis Jonsen to go back up by 14 points with 1:54 remaining before halftime. MSU pushes into field goal range at the end of the half, but Bailey's 40-yard field goal attempt sails wide left. SCORE: Montana State 28, Norfolk State 14
THIRD QUARTER: Montana State takes the opening drive of the second half down the field, and Rovig throws his third touchdown pass of the day, a 13-yarder to Coy Steel for a 35-14 advantage. It is Steel's second TD catch of the game and his third this season.
After stopping the Spartans on fourth down, the Bobcats continue to use Travis Jonsen out of the backfield and move into Norfolk State territory, and Rovig finds Kevin Kassis for a 21-yard touchdown pass. It is Rovig's fourth touchdown pass, a new career high. Norfolk State's Johnson later bursts free for an 84-yard touchdown run, which is the second-longest run from scrimmage in Bobcat Stadium history. SCORE: Montana State 42, Norfolk State 21
FOURTH QUARTER: Lane Sumner adds a touchdown for the Bobcats early in the quarter on a 3-yard run after taking a pitch from Jonsen, making the score 49-21. Sumner scores again on a 58-yard run to eclipse 100 yards and make the score 56-21. It is Montana State's eighth touchdown of the game, which hadn't happened since a blowout victory at North Dakota in 2013.
FINAL SCORE: Montana State 56, Norfolk State 21