GREELEY, Colo. — QB Tommy Mellott returned for Montana State on Saturday after missing two games with a head injury, and though he and MSU’s offense started a bit slow they found their momentum and went on to a 37-14 victory over Big Sky opponent Northern Colorado at Nottingham Field.
The star for the Bobcats was wide receiver Willie Patterson, who had seven catches for 148 yards and three touchdowns. Patterson’s 26-yard touchdown catch from Sean Chambers gave the Bobcats a 30-14 lead in the third quarter and put the game away.
Mellott, playing in his first game in three weeks, threw for 217 yards and three TDs, including a 3-yarder to R.J. Fitzgerald that gave the Bobcats a 16-14 advantage early in the second quarter.
No. 4-ranked Montana State improved to 6-1 overall and 4-0 in the Big Sky Conference. UNC is now 2-4 overall and 1-3 in the league.
Turning point: Patterson leapt and out-fought a UNC defender for a 16-yard touchdown pass at the end of the second quarter, which gave the Bobcats a 17-14 lead.
MSU then got the ball to start the third quarter, and Patterson caught a 37-yard TD pass from Mellott to make it 24-14 in favor of the Cats.
Stat of the game: It was a career day for Patterson, and he became the first Bobcat to catch three touchdown passes in a game since Julius Lloyd in 2010.
Bobcat game balls: WR Willie Patterson (offense). Patterson continues to be MSU’s top touchdown-producing pass-catcher. The senior from Tacoma, Washington, now has eight TD catches this season.
DB Ty Okada (defense). Okada played big for MSU’s defense, making 10 total tackles and intercepting Bears QB Dylan McCaffrey in the fourth quarter.
PK Blake Glessner (special teams). Glessner showed off his big leg by booting a 51-yard field goal to start the scoring in the opening quarter. He also drilled six of his seven kickoffs for touchbacks.
What’s next: The Bobcats face their toughest FCS opponent to date when they welcome Weber State to Bozeman next week. Kickoff is at 1 p.m. The game will be broadcast on MTN and ESPN+. Weber State entered this week unbeaten and ranked No. 6 in the FCS poll.