BOZEMAN – In his first start of the season, Cody Kempt threw three touchdown passes, including a 36-yarder in overtime, to lead Montana State past South Dakota 31-24 Saturday afternoon.
With his team trailing 24-21, Kempt led a 66-yard drive that ended in a 21-yard field goal by Jason Cunningham with 38 seconds to go.
On the second play of overtime, on second-and-21 following a penalty, Kempt found Elvis Akpla open behind the defense for the score. South Dakota then drove to MSU’s 3-yard line when, on fourth down, quarterback Noah Shepard found Dan Skelly uncovered in the end zone, but the pass bounced off his hands to end the game.
Before their game-tying drive, the Bobcats gained just 41 yards over their previous four drives.
“Our entire offense knew we had to get the job done,” Kempt said. “We had a lot of three-and-outs and it was our time to shine. We believed we were going to make it happen.”
Kempt, playing for Mark Iddins, who has been sick and hardly practiced this week, completed 23 of 34 passes for 249 yards. C.J. Palmer ran for 106 yards and a touchdown for Montana State (4-2).
Shepard also threw for three scores and ran for 77 yards for the Coyotes (3-4).
South Dakota was coming off a 24-23 overtime loss to UC Davis last weekend.
“We were in a close game again and again we fell short,” Shepard said. “I don’t know what’s going on, but it just seems like when we get in those tight games, something comes up to get us.”
Montana State took a 14-0 lead nine minutes into the game on a pair of touchdown passes from Kempt, one to Everett Gilbert, the other to Kyle Begger. USD came within 14-10 with five minutes remaining in the first half, but MSU answered with Palmer’s 1-yard score with 1:12 left.
Shepard threw scoring passes to Will Powell and Tom Flanagan to put his team in front for the first time with 3:13 to go in the game.
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