Montana State Beats Dixie State 23-20

By Beacon Staff

BOZEMAN – When Montana State fell behind in the third quarter against an NCAA Division II team it defeated by 54 points two seasons ago, the Bobcats refused to panic.

Two drives later, senior quarterback Mark Iddins hit junior tight end Kyle Begger on a 32-yard scoring strike to put MSU ahead for good en route to a 23-20 victory over Dixie State on Saturday.

Iddins was 24-for-40 passing for 305 yards and two touchdowns as MSU (1-1) averted a loss to a team it routed 61-7 in its 2007 home opener. He drove the Bobcats 77 yards in five plays for the touchdown with 2:41 remaining in the third quarter.

Dixie State (1-2) had taken a 14-13 lead less than seven minutes earlier.

“I don’t think anybody expected we’d be in that situation,” Iddins said. “We kind of showed something about ourselves as a team.”

Sophomore kicker Jason Cunningham kicked a 35-yard field goal with 5:50 to play in the game to give MSU a seemingly safe 23-14 lead. But Dixie State went 80 yards in seven plays culminating in a 6-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Judd Thompson to junior wide receiver Kyser Christensen.

The touchdown made it 23-20 with 11 seconds to go. After the extra-point attempt was blocked, Dixie State’s pooch kick went out of bounds to secure MSU’s victory.

Thompson, a transfer from Utah State, was 28-for-55 passing for 417 yards and three touchdowns. But he also threw four interceptions, including one in the end zone. His 12-yard pass to Dixie State’s previous quarterback, senior wide receiver Skyler Ence, gave the Red Storm their only lead at 14-13 with 9:32 to go in the third quarter.

“Without those turnovers, it might be a different story,” Thompson said. “Down in the red zone, that’s the one that’s really kicking me.”

Senior running back Aaron Mason rushed for 112 yards on 17 carries for the Bobcats, who had 458 yards in total offense. Dixie State, in its fourth season as a four-year school, had 465 yards.

“This is probably the best thing that could’ve happened to us,” Montana State coach Rob Ash said. “We got a wake-up call. Our team realizes we can play in a tough, close game and win. It’s a win. That’s what we came to do.”

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