BOZEMAN — Coming into Montana State's home opener against McNeese State, a major question mark was how the visiting Cowboys would match-up on the road against the FCS National championship runner-ups.
The pressure seemed to be on the Bobcats and the pressure created some cracks with penalties early on that negated a 57-yard touchdown run from junior Lane Sumner, a roughing the passer on third down that lead to a touchdown later on in the drive and a delay of game that stalled a brilliant offensive push in the second quarter.
However, the Bobcats settled in as the game progressed.
Sean Chambers was the main look on the goal line all game long and on the first play to start the second quarter got the scoring going with a three-yard keeper to go up 7-0.
McNeese State remained unfazed following it up with a 75-yard touchdown run from running back D’Angelo Durham. Two scoring plays in 14 seconds between both teams makes it 14-0 with 14:46 left in the first half.
The running game proved to be the Bobcats greatest asset between Mellott and Chambers in a two quarterback attack along with junior Lane Sumner who off an injury last season, hit the ground running.
A 40-yard rush from Sumner set the Bobcats offense up nicely after the crazy scoring sequence to start the second quarter. However, a costly delay of game penalty would stall the drive on the 15-yard line after a pass interference from the Cowboys. The Cats would settle for a field goal from Blake Glessner to make it 10-7.
With 6:44 left in the half the defense seemed to hold their own on the three-yard-line forcing a fumble and recovering the ball in the end zone but referees said the quarterback Knox Kadum was down on contact. A Cowboy field goal nods it up 10-10.
The turning point for the Cats seemed to propel them the rest of the game. Under a minute left in the half, sophomore quarterback Tommy Mellott and senior Willie Patterson connect from 17-yards out in what was a spectacular catch on the right sideline. Cats would carry the lead and momentum into the half 17-10.
In the first possession of the second half, Glessner added a cushion to their seven point lead with a 41-yard field goal to make it 20-10.
The defense came to play as well forcing a turnover on downs on the following drive from with a pass deflection from Ty Okada. Even after a Sumner fumble for a turnover, the Bobcat’s senior leader at linebacker Callahan O’Reilly read the flat pass from Kadum to intercept the ball for what seemed to be a house call. It was called back on a blocking penalty. O'Reilly finished the game with two interceptions.
Regardless of the penalty, the turnover resulted in points with Chambers scoring his second touchdown of the game on a four-yard score with 6:39 left in the third.
Despite 359 total rushing yards within the multi-faceted run game, MSU’s receivers were very much a big part of the offense.
With 1:37 left in the third quarter, Mellott connected with Ravi Alston on an exceptional 8-yard touchdown grab to extend the lead 33-10.
McNeese State would strike one more time with a 66-yard touchdown pass from Kadum to Josh Matthews but Mellott able to nab a 17-yard run for a touchdown to seal the deal 40-17 in a big week one win on Gold Rush.
Sumner came up big with 24 carries for 176 yards while Mellott and Chambers combined for three touchdowns on the ground with Mellott adding two touchdown passes on 10 completions totaling 163 yards through the air.
Montana State’s next test is at home next Saturday against Morehead State.