BOZEMAN – Montana State do-it-all Troy Andersen ran for 102 yards, two touchdowns and had two tackles for loss. But it was the way things escalated quickly in the third quarter that left Bobcat Stadium buzzing after the No. 13 Bobcats broke up a 10-10 halftime score with 28 third quarter points en route to a 38-17 win over No. 12 Southeast Missouri State on Saturday night in Bozeman.
The Bobcats (1-1) accumulated 240 yards in the third quarter, while the defense held SEMO to three straight three-and-outs and negative-one yard of total offense before it finally got a first down with just over a minute left in the frame. MSU flustered SEMO senior quarterback Daniel Santacaterina all night, sack him five times and holding the Ohio Valley’s first team all-conference QB to just 114 yards on 13 for 28 passing.
“I don’t think he feels too good right now,” MSU head coach Jeff Choate said. “We got to him a lot.”
MSU got off to a hot start with Andersen running for a 38-yard touchdown on the Bobcats second play of the game. The Bobcats drove 63 yards for a field goal on their second possession, but struggled for the rest of the half offensively.
SEMO scored after picking up a fumbled snap on a punt attempt. The Redhawks found the end zone three plays later when Santacaterina hit Kristian Wilkerson from the five. SMSU connected on a 55-yard field goal with no time remaining on the first half clock. That score was set up by a roughing the quarterback penalty.
“I knew if the defense kept pounding on them, the offense would start to click,” MSU senior defensive end Bryce Sterk said. “As the game went on (Santacaterina) got more and more jittery.”
Sophomore tailback Isaiah Ifanse ran for 114 yards in the first half, but his 62-yard jaunt that placed MSU on the SEMO 7 didn’t net the Bobcats any points as senior offensive lineman Mitch Brott was called for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and MSU senior kicker Tristan Bailey missed a field goal from 43 yards.
Senior safety JoJo Hendersen would intercept a pass and returned to the SEMO 38 on the next SEMO possession, but MSU quarterback Casey Bauman was sacked and MSU came away scoreless again. Ifanse didn’t return in the second half due to an undisclosed injury.
The second half started almost like the first with MSU scoring on its third play. Andersen set up the first score with a 44-yard run, while true freshman DeMareus Hosey ran for 12 on the first play and scored from the nine.
MSU then went 65 yards for another scored keyed by a 38-yard pass from Bauman to senior Kevin Kassis. Andersen scampered in from the 3 to put MSU up 24-10, the 28th touchdown of his career.
SEMO didn’t get a second half first down until just over a minute remained in the third quarter. The next drive took just 40 seconds as senior wide receiver Travis Jonsen, lined up as quarterback, was credited with a 55-yard touchdown pass to senior tailback Logan Jones after flicking the ball to him on a fly sweep as Jones ran by in the backfield. The next drive saw senior Karl Tucker II score his first career touchdown as he carried the ball twice for the final 11 yards, scoring from the four.
“We were a little disappointed at halftime,” Kassis said. “We messed up on some little things, but that’s a good SEMO team. Shows what the elevation can do. It was a good time in a great atmosphere.”
Sterk was a force on defense for MSU as he picked up right where he left off last with three sacks and six tackles. MSU totaled six sacks with Andersen, Kyle Rygg and Marcus Ferriter getting the others. The Bobcats held the Redhawks to just 102 second half yards and 245 for the game. Despite a loss of 27 yards on a muffed punt attempt, MSU ran for 265 yards.
Bauman started slow, but finished with 136 passing yards and also ran for four yards on a fourth-and-2 play in the third quarter. He had just 34 yards passing in the first half before going 7-for-13 in the second half. Kassis hauled in a 38-yard pass as he was being grabbed to set up the second TD of the third quarter.
MSU finished with 456 yards on 72 plays. Andersen continued his amazing ways with runs of 38 and 44 yards. His 102 yards came on just six carries.
“He’s a special, selfless dude,” Kassis said. “We wouldn’t be the same team without him.”