Sept. 25, 2010

Courtesy Of Montana St. Athletics

Facing the most exciting player in football, Montana State's defensive front knew what it had to do on Saturday, stop Taiwan Jones. Consider it done.

Equally challenged was the Bobcat offensive front, which was missing three starters. The Bobcats never skipped a beat, overpowering ninth-ranked Eastern Washington 30-7.

Jones entered Saturdays game leading the nation with 287.3 all-purpose yards a game, but on a sunny day in Bozeman, he found the going tough. Jones returned the opening kickoff 26 yards and then ran for 11 more on his first rushing attempt. But not much happened after that.

Jones finished with 63 yards rushing, well below his average of 151.7 per game. He had such little impact in the game that by the time he limped off the field in the third quarter, never to return, the Bobcats were in command.

Seventeenth-ranked MSU (3-1 overall, 1-0 in Big Sky) never trailed in the game, scoring first on a pitchout to Everett Gilbert in the first quarter. On EWUs next possession, defensive tackle Zach Minter intercepted an errant pass by Bo Levi Mitchell and rambled 53 yards to make it 13-0.

It was the second straight game with a score for the 265-pounder. In last weeks home win against Drake, the surprisingly agile sophomore stripped the ball from Drakes quarterback and recovered the fumble in the end zone.

Minter was one of the Bobcats tasked with keeping EWUs Jones in check. He was joined up front by a rotation of Preston Gale, Dan Ogden, John Laidet and Caleb Schreibeis. Overall, EWU totaled 382 total yards, but turned it over two times.

EWU (2-2, 1-1) trimmed it to 13-7 when Mitchell hit Nicolas Edwards for a 9-yard score, but the Bobcats closed out the first half scoring when holder Rick Haluszka scampered 4 yards with a faked field goal making it 20-7 at halftime.

MSU received a solid performance from its offensive line. Stalwart Mike Person did his usual fine job of opening holes, but Cased Dennehy, Shaun Sampson, Andrew Verlanic, Alex Terrien and Jesse Hoffman rotated into the other four spots in splendid fashion.

Passing with ample protection from the patched-together line, quarter Denarius McGhee was a solid 15 of 24 for 283 yards. His forward 1-yard pitch to CJ Palmer in the fourth quarter was the clinching touchdown and came moments after Jason Cunninghams 23-yard field goal.

Elvis Akpla was McGhees favorite target, catching five passes for 117 yards. The Bobcats finished with 156 yards rushing as Orenzo Davis picked up 66 yards on 17 carries.

All-America linebacker JC Sherritt lived up to his billing for the Eagles, leading all players with 11 tackles. Safety Jordan Craney was MSUs top tackler, pulling down nine Eagles and forcing a fumble that linebacker Jody Owens recovered in the fourth quarter.

Mitchell completed 24 of 49 passes for 272 yards. Brandon Kaufman caught six balls for 82 yards.

Both teams continue league play next week; MSU travels to Sacramento State, while EWU goes to Weber State.