The state of Montana did a whole lot of celebrating Saturday in the second round of the FCS Playoffs. Montana State dominated Albany 47-21 and Montana rolled Southeastern Louisiana 73-28.
Check out what went down in the Montana State win.
Montana State 47, Albany 21
Offensive Player of the Game: Travis Jonsen, WR, Montana State | Team-high 134 all-purpose yards (6 receptions for 49 yards, 6 rushes for 85 yards and 1 touchdown)
Defensive Player of the Game: Bryce Sterk, DE, Montana State | 3 total tackles, 1.5 sacks, 2.5 tackles-for-loss, 1 pass break-up
OTHER STAT STANDOUTS:
Kevin Kassis, WR, Montana State | 11 receptions for 131 yards and 1 touchdown
Tucker Rovig, QB, Montana State | 24-30 passing for 279 yards and 3 touchdowns
Coy Steel, WR/RS, Montana State | 4 punt returns for a total of 105 yards (26.25 yards per return)
Lance McCutcheon, WR, Montana State | 2 receptions for 91 yards and 2 touchdowns
Juwan Green, WR, Albany | 3 receptions for team-high 123 yards and 1 touchdown
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THE TURNING POINT
Up 23-7, Montana State started its newest drive at the Albany 34-yard-line with 11:07 to go in the second quarter after Coy Steel’s punt return of 34 yards. However, the Bobcats were unable to capitalize on their prime field position on this occasion, as the possession ended when Tristan Bailey’s 49-yard field goal attempt went wide left. But only two plays and 12 seconds of game time later, Montana State’s defense would pick its offense right back up. Bobcats senior cornerback Damien Washington intercepted record-setting Albany redshirt freshman quarterback Jeff Undercuffler and scampered to an 18-yard return that set Montana State up at the Albany 23-yard line.
The second consecutive Bobcats drive starting in Albany territory would also conclude with a missed field goal, as Bailey’s 44-yard try was blocked by redshirt senior Great Danes defensive tackle Nick Griffin. Redshirt sophomore linebacker AJ Mistler scooped up the football and raced 37 yards to the Montana State 22-yard-line to flip the field for Albany.
Just when things were looking up for an Albany offense that had not scored since the opening drive of the day, Washington struck again with his second interception. After a sack by Montana State’s Amandre Williams, the Great Danes faced 3rd-and-11 from the MSU 23 when Washington announced his presence once again to the crowd of 12,947 at Bobcat Stadium and the national audience on ESPN3. All in all, Albany failed to cut into the 23-7 deficit despite avoiding Montana State scores on back-to-back Bobcat possessions that started on Great Danes’ side of the 50. MSU would later use a 19-yard field goal from Bailey to make it a three-possession halftime lead at 26-7.
Visiting Albany enjoyed an auspicious start after winning the coin toss and electing to receive. Just over a minute into action, the Great Danes were on the board via Undercuffler’s 58-yard touchdown pass to Juwan Green, who showed his knack for the high-difficulty catch on the play. Undercuffler celebrated with a finger shushing the home crowd, but that was as much fun as he’d have for a while. The Jerry Rice Award finalist had an uncharacteristically challenging day, finishing 18-37 for 273 yards and two touchdowns, but struggling to put together consistent offense for the bulk of the afternoon. A significant reason for Undercuffler’s difficulties was the pressure he dealt with for the majority of the game. Montana State sacked Undercuffler four times, and its hurries on the CAA’s Offensive Rookie of the Year played a part in its pair of interceptions.
On offense, the Bobcats were multiple, keeping first-time opponent Albany on its heels. In addition to quarterback Tucker Rovig, running back Isaiah Ifanse and wideout Travis Jonsen took direct snaps. Jonsen sparked MSU to its first score of the day and a response to the Great Danes’ early points when he escaped on a 47-yard touchdown carry with 12:16 remaining the first period.
Montana State never looked back, scoring 47 points unanswered in total to take command by an eye-opening score of 47-7 with 10:43 to play in regulation. The Bobcats, who had been running a primarily dink-and-dunk horizontal passing game with Rovig, opened things up vertically in the second half to the tune of Bozeman native Lance McCutcheon’s 49- and 42-yard touchdown catches. Albany managed two late touchdowns by Karl Mofor and Jerah Reeves to make the final score a little more presentable at 47-21, but MSU continued its dominance from the regular season-ending Brawl of the Wild victory to advance to the quarterfinals versus the winner of the Austin Peay-Sacramento State nightcap.
“I think the [Montana State] fans are incredible. I take my hat off to them. We knew it was coming, but the energy that their fans generate here is something to be commended.” — Albany head coach Greg Gattuso
“…I’m really, really proud of the way our team played together as a team today. There’s no doubt that it was a complete victory in all three phases. The punt return yardage was huge for us in the first half, set us up on some short fields. We got the takeaways we wanted on defense, and we executed and operated on the offensive side with some explosive plays. I thought Tucker [Rovig] played an excellent game today, 24-of-30 for almost 280 yards, three touchdowns, gave our receivers chances down the field. Two-seven’s (Damien Washington’s) been owing me those interceptions for about four years now; it’s about time he paid me back. And Amandre [Williams] and the D-front did an excellent job up front.” — Montana State head coach Jeff Choate