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Cats offense strikes early and often in opening win against Monmouth

By Vince Bagby, Sports Director, vbagby@keci.com
Published On: Dec 24 2013 02:46:55 AM MST
Updated On: Aug 30 2013 12:35:57 AM MDT

MSU received the opening kickoff and wasted no time taking the early lead over Monmouth Thursday evening in front of a record crowd 21,007 fans at Bobcat Stadium.  The Cats drove the ball 75 yards on 7 plays and capped it off with a Denarius McGhee keeper from one yard out.  MSU added another pair of points with a Tanner Roderick rush for the 2-point conversion to make it an 8-0 game less than three minutes into the contest.

The Cats got the ball back after a quick three and out from the Hawks.  It took the MSU offense just four plays and 70 yards to find the end zone again.  Cody Kirk took the ball in from five yards out and after the extra point MSU grabbed an early 15-0 advantage.  The score was also Kirk's 30th career touchdown as a Bobcat, setting a new record.  The key play of the drive was a 49 yard run by McGhee.

"When our offense is clicking like that it's very hard for people to stop it," said McGhee. "Our coaches, when they're calling those plays like that, it's going to be a good season."

And the 1st quarter floodgates continued after that; After another Monmouth three and out the Bobcats found the end zone once again, this time via a 90 yard touchdown run from the legs of junior runningback Shawn Johnson.  That put MSU up 22-0 just midway through the 1st quarter.

"We had a great offense," said Cody Kirk. "We had a great tempo. We got out there and we got after it. The defense made some great reads and I just thought we got out quick and that had to do a lot with the tempo that we've been going and practicing at. Now we just have to keep that rolling onto SMU." (Southern Methodist University)

The Hawks were able to shake off the pressure of being shutout on their next drive.  Monmouth's Eric Spillane connected on a 45 yard FG to make it a 22-3 game still in the initial quarter of play.

"With the offense clicking like that, we would sit down stand up sit down stand up and that's what we want them to do," said MSU linebacker Alex Singleton. "We want to go three plays and let them go again because when they're hot like that we've got to let them stay hot."

The scoreboard wouldn't be cracked again until midway through the 2nd quarter when MSU's Kirk punched it in from one yard out to make it a 29-3 game with just over eight minutes until halftime.

The Bobcats would add add ten more points before the intermission via a 26 yard field goal from Rory Perez and then a 56-yard interception return for touchdown from Craig Ashworth to put MSU up big 39-3 heading into the locker room at halftime.

The Hawks would be the first team to score after the break; Monmouth got their first touchdown of the night on a Julian Hayes rush from three yards to make it a 39-10 game. 

But obviously the story was too little too late for the Hawks.  The MSU starters got breathers in the 4th quarter of this game as Montana State coasted to victory 42-24 the final score.

"My best thought about the game is how well that defensive line played," said MSU head coach Rob Ash. "Who knew what exactly that group was going to be able to accomplish? They were good. I mean the first half when it really mattered we were tough against the run, we got pressure on the quarterback and it looked like our defensives from past years. That's a really excellent outcome for the first game."

The Bobcats racked up 293 yards rushing in the end and averaged over seven yards per carry. Five different Bobcats had at least 30 yards rushing. 

McGhee completed 19 of his 27 pass attempts for 240 yards through the air.  The senior QB also recorded 54 yards rushing on his five carries.