Photo Courtesy of Dean Hendrickson
BOZEMAN, Mont. – No. 7/8 Montana State moved the ball strategically today as it defeated No. 15/17 Northern Arizona 36-7 at Bobcat Stadium. The Bobcats (4-2, 2-0 Big Sky) led from the beginning and never relinquished the lead as they beat the Lumberjacks to remain undefeated at home this season.
"Montana State had a good plan and they were able to execute it very well," said head coach Jerome Souers. "It's tough to play here and we knew that going in. We learned some things today that we need to correct as we move forward."
The Lumberjacks (3-2, 1-1 Big Sky) were able to hold Montana State's DeNarius McGhee to zero passing yards in the first quarter, but the senior All-American was able to improve his play as the game went on, leading the Bobcats to their second straight Big Sky victory.
The Bobcats were able to get on the scoreboard with 9:51 to go in the first quarter after Shawn Johnson rushed for 27 yards to the end zone. Montana State went on to record three field goals in the second quarter to take a 16-0 lead into halftime.
The third quarter saw both teams move the ball up the field. The Bobcats recorded a nine-yard rushing touchdown (McGhee), followed by a 12-yard rushing touchdown (Cody Kirk) to take a 29-0 lead over the Lumberjacks.
Austin Hasquet came up big for NAU when he intercepted McGhee's pass midway through the third quarter and returned it for NAU's fourth pick-six of the season. It was the first interception thrown this season by McGhee.
The touchdown only stunned the Bobcats for a short period of time as Johnson scored on a 100-yard kickoff return to extend Montana State's lead to 36-7 with 6:29 left in the third quarter.
Neither team was able to score in the fourth quarter as the Bobcats earned the victory at home in front of a record-setting 21,027 fans.
Kyren Poe completed 24-of-44 passes for 168 yards. Senior running back Zach Bauman was held to 26 rushing yards. Sophomore Alex Holmes was the lead receiver for NAU as he collected 70 yards on nine catches.
"One game doesn't define a season," said Bauman. "We had a great week of practice leading up to today. We just have to get back to work on Monday."
Northern Arizona will continue its road stint next weekend with a trip to Sacramento. Calif. The Lumberjacks will play at Sacramento State on Saturday, Oct. 12. Kickoff versus the Hornets is slated for 6:05 p.m. at Hornet Stadium.