BOZEMAN – Chris Murray threw for two touchdowns and ran for another, Mac Bignell had a pick-six, and Montana State beat Idaho State 28-14 on Saturday.
Montana State (4-4, 4-2 Big Sky) jumped to a 14-0 first-quarter lead on Murray’s 1-yard TD toss to Mitchell Herbert on the opening drive and on Murray’s 28-yard scoring run. But the Bengals (4-5, 2-4) snapped back with a pair of second-quarter touchdowns, including James Madison’s 4-yard run to cap a 96-yard drive, to tie it at halftime.
Murray’s short TD run and Bignell’s 18-yard interception return for a score put MSU up 28-14 with 8:55 to play.
“I was definitely thinking, ‘don’t drop this one, or I’m gonna lose my spot’,” said Bignell, who let a likely pick-six go through his fingers last week against Northern Colorado
Murray was 10-of-20 for 233 yards passing with an interception and ran for another 67 yards on 14 carries.
The Bobcats had 422 total yards to 394 for the Bengals, including 201 rushing yards, led by Madison, with 105 on 30 carries.
“I thought we looked great in the fourth quarter,” MSU coach Jeff Choates said. “Our kids are in great condition. We’ve been able to win two in a row, but we haven’t played out best football.”
Linebacker Josh Hill had 11 tackles, including eight solo tackles, to pace Montana State’s defense, which twice stopped the Bengals on downs.
“We just didn’t finish drives in the second half,” ISU coach Rob Phenicie said. “Credit MSU and (defensive coordinator) Ty Gregorak for that.”
Phenecie and Gregorak coached together at Montana for several years.
MSU punter Jered Padmos averaged 52 yards on five punts and pinned ISU inside the 15 four times.
“The unsung hero for us was Padmos,” Choate said. “His ability to control field position for us was huge.
Montana State: The Bobcats stay alive for a playoff spot with the win, but likely need to win their next three games to get in.
Idaho State: The Bengals are all but eliminated from playoff contention with the loss.
Idaho State: The Bengals take on UC Davis at home in Pocatello next week. They’re 3-1 at home this season.
Montana State: The Bobcats have a non-conference game against Kennesaw State of the Big South at home. KSU beat Presbyterian College 28-0 on Saturday to win a school-record seven straight.