BOZEMAN — Shawn Johnson ran for 92 yards and a touchdown and had a 100-yard kickoff return for a score to lead Montana State to a 36-7 win over Northern Arizona in a matchup of two ranked FCS teams on Saturday.
Johnson’s 27-yard touchdown run and three field goals by Rory Perez put MSU (4-2, 2-0 Big Sky) up 16-0 at halftime. The Bobcats then got a 9-yard TD run by quarterback DeNarius McGhee and a 12-yard TD run by Cody Kirk to build a 29-0 lead.
Kirk ran for 156 yards on 27 carries for MSU.
“I tell Shawn before every game that I’m thunder and you’re lightning,” Kirk said. “I’ll pound on them, you take it to the house and that’s just what we did today.”
The Bobcats ran for 276 yards on 56 carries in sun-splashed Bobcat Stadium with Kirk, Johnson, and McGhee getting all the carries.
“They’re really fast on defense, so we just ran right at them,” offensive tackle Quinn Catalano said.
NAU’s only score came on a 37-yard interception return by Austin Hasquet, but Johnson returned the ensuing kickoff for a touchdown.
MSU’s defense didn’t allow any scoring and held NAU (3-2, 1-1) to 232 yards.
NAU running back Zach Bauman, who went over 4,000 career yards last week, was held to just 26 yards on nine carries.
“Defensively, I felt we made a statement,” MSU cornerback Deonte Flowers said. “When a great running back comes in and we shut him out that’s great for our defense.”
NAU coach Jerome Souers said the raucous crowd of 21,027 caused his squad problems.
“It’s difficult with the crowd noise,” he said. “Difficult to maintain a rhythm and that makes it tough on the run game when you can’t hear the snap count.”
MSU wide receiver Tanner Bleskin caught four passes, breaking the school record for career receptions with 170 on his last catch of the day. The quarterback on the record-breaking play was his brother Jake.
McGhee was injured early in the fourth quarter and didn’t return. He finished 7 of 18 for just 72 yards and an interception. It was his first interception of the season. He ran for 36 yards on eight carries.
NAU quarterback Kyren Poe was 24 of 44 for 168 yards. NAU had just 64 yards on 20 carries.
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