Montana State returns to FCS semifinals after declawing Sam Houston State Bearkats

Posted at 8:21 AM, Dec 12, 2021

HUNTSVILLE, TX — And the Cats go Marching on.

The No. 8 seed Montana State Bobcats utterly dominated the undefeated Spring 2021 FCS Champs, No. 1 Sam Houston State University 42-19 on Saturday night the FCS quarterfinal. With that Victory, Montana State will host a playoff game versus unseeded South Dakota State.

A photo gallery of the game can be found here.

“I don’t think anyone outside of Bozeman, Montana really believed us to come down here and knock these guys off after it being an undefeated calendar year,” said MSU freshman quarterback Tommy Mellott.

“Our guys weren’t intimidated by their success, but knew we needed to play really well in all phases and obviously, getting out to a great start was a big part of that,” Bobcats head coach Brent Vigen said.”

Montana State scored their first touchdown on a ‘Philly Special’ type play when wide receiver Willie Patterson passed it to quarterback Mellott in the end zone.

“We were playing with house money tonight,” said Mellott. “Coach Housewright called that play and we got in the huddle and we knew what we had to do. We’ve been practicing all week. Willie had a great pass, it really worked out great. I don’t know, it was pretty special.”

Mellott ended up with a throwing, rushing and receiving a touchdown. He had five total touchdowns, 165 yards passing and 76 yards on the ground.

“I didn’t even realize it, but that was pretty special,” Mellott said. “Just goes to the game plan, the guys up front, it goes to the receivers, they made a ton of plays for me all night long and I just happen to be the guy that was in the end zone. Really exciting, though.”

The Bobcats defense was all over the place on Saturday night, picking off Eric Schmid three times and held the Bearkats to just 19 points when they averaged 43 per game this season. 

“(Sam Houston) can run it and they can defend it and that got them a championship in the spring and that's what we wanted to be about,” Vigen said. “Be able to run it, defend it, turn it over, take it away, protect the heck out of it – we did all those things tonight.”

Vigen has seen the drive off this team since he took over the reins last winter.

“It was evident from the time that I got to Bozeman in February that this group was determined to take that next step and now we’re back, I guess where they were 2019, back at home with a shot take another step as a program,” he said.

Montana State will now host South Dakota State at home next Saturday at noon after the Jackrabbits defeated Villanova 35-21. 

“I didn’t think we’d have the chance to go back and play in Bobcat Stadium,” said Bozeman native, senior wide receiver Lance McCutcheon. “To have everything shape up the way it did and us getting this huge win tonight, it’s a great feeling to go back to Bozeman.”

“It’s going to be amazing to get back in front of our die-hard fans. Love those guys to death and we’ll be looking to put on a show,” said senior defensive end Daniel Hardy.

Tickets for the game can be found here.