*** ARTICLE COURTESY OF MSU ATHLETIC DEPARTMENT
Rory Perez nailed a 39-yard field goal to give the Blue team a walk-off 17-14 win over the White in Saturday’s Sonny Holland scrimmage.
The first of two major Bobcat scrimmages this spring – next week’s Triangle Classic in Great Falls brings spring drills to a close – was bracketed by snow, but was played in brilliant sunshine which largely matched the performance on the field. Bobcat coach Rob Ash liked splitting the teams to create a live game, and liked much of the day’s play.
“I like the (game-style) format,” said MSU coach Rob Ash. “It created some situations with clock and field position that you can’t really simulate in practice. I like the fact that some of the offensive guys were cheering for defensive guys and vice versa because of the way we set it up, that was a good team-building deal. I thought there were good plays on both sides of the ball, plus we had an exciting finish, so it was all good.”
With most of the center-quarterback exchange issues that have plagued the Bobcat offense cleared up, each team’s offense controlled the early portion of the 128-play scrimmage. Senior quarterback DeNarius McGhee marched the top offensive unit 44 yards before throwing an interception (by Deonte Flowers) in the day’s first drive, then sophomore Jake Bleskin marched the second offense 82 yards for a touchdown on the next drive. Each of the day’s first five drives featured at least one first down.
While the team’s top two quarterbacks, McGhee and Bleskin, performed well, a pair of lesser-known signal callers were at times spectacular. Sophomore Mitch Griebel, a transfer from Air Force, gained 99 rushing yards, primarily operating a lightning-quick option attack which has been his specialty. Freshman Dakota Prukop scampered 60 yards for a touchdown, and gained 60 rushing yards on five carries.
Ash liked what he saw from each, but said it’s much too early for talk of installing an option package for one or the other in the fall. “They have great strengths with their feet, they’re both good runners,” Ash said. “That’s why we put them in the position we did today, to see what they could do. DeNarius and Jake Bleskin, they’re both pretty athletic as well. As far as quarterbacks of the future and all that, Jake Bleskin is very, very important to this team in looking toward the future. If he had a regular jersey on he’d be braking runs, as well.”
Montana State’s defenses were led by veterans on Saturday. Senior linebacker Na’a Moeakiola had two tackles-for-loss and a pass breakups for the White, while Odin Coe added a pair of sacks. Hayden Vick had two sacks for the Blue team.
Ash was pleased with what he saw from the top defensive unit. “The Blue offense ended up with 17 points and the win,” he said, “but the one short field was the cause of one of those touchdowns and Dakota Prukop had the other long run for a touchdown, so I thought the first defense played really well today.”
Montana State finishes spring drills with Tuesday and Thursday practices next week, followed by the traditional Triangle Classic Scrimmage in Great Falls on Saturday at around 3 pm. The MSU team heads to the Electric City for the Triangle Classic Banquet on Friday beginning at 6 pm, with Hall of Fame running back Eric Dickerson as the featured speaker.
RUSHING: Mitch Griebel 12-99-1, Dakota Prukop 5-60-1, Chad Newell 9-40-1, Cody Dopps 8-50-0, Shawn Johnson 5-19-0, McGhee 5-5-0, Morris Mouton 4-22-0, Cody Kirk 4-17-1, David Dash 3-35-0, Jon Ellis 2- -2-0, Jake Bleskin 2- -5-0.
PASSING: DeNarius McGhee 18-23-1, 137, 0; Jake Bleskin 5-9-0, 40, 0; Mitch Griebel 4-10-0, 51, 0; Dakota Prukop 1-2-0, 8, 0; Bobby Crane 1-1-0, 3, 0.
RECEIVING: Shawn Johnson 6-43-0, Tanner Bleskin 3-26-0, Tiai Salanoa 2-21-0, Chad Newell 2-14-0, Chris Houden 2-10-0, Manny Kalfell 2-31-0, Kurt Davis 2-14-0, David Dash 2-10-0, Brian Flotkoetter 2-21-0, Austin Barth 2-10-0, Shadeed Crockett 1-16-0, Jon Ellis 1-5-0, Will Krolock 1-5-0, Cody Dopps 1-4-0.
INTERCEPTIONS: Deonte Flowers-1.
PASS BREAKUPS: Nate Bignell-1, Deonte Flowers-1, Rhett Young-1, Na’a Moeakiola-1.
SACKS: Brad Daly-1, Zach Hutchins-1, Alex Singleton-1, Hayden Vick-2, Odin Coe-2.
OTHER TACKLES-FOR-LOSS: Na’a Moeakiloa-2, Alex Singleton-2, Fe’ao Vunipola-1, Nate Bignell-1, Zach Hutchins-1, Hayden Vick-1, Vince DiGiallonardo-1.
White – Chad Newell 4 run (Bolton), 82 yards in 8 plays, WHITE 7-0
White – Mitch Griebel 10 run (Bolton), 76 yards in 8 plays, WHITE 14-0
Blue – Cody Kirk 8 run (Perez), 26 yards in 3 plays, WHITE 14-7
Blue- Dakota Prukop 60 run (Perez), 60 yards in one play, 14-14
Blue – Rory Perez 39 FG45 yards in 8 plays, BLUE 17-14