HILLSBORO, ORE. — It was a flat start for the Bobcats as they opened up Big Sky play against Portland State, which is why the message they harped on at halftime was B.Y.O.E - Bring Your Own Energy.
They came out a different team in the second half, flipping the script with a 30-17 victory.
“That just wasn’t us in the first half," senior wide receiver Lance McCutcheon stated. "We talked about it at halftime in the lockers to pick it up and come out here and play the way we know how to, eliminate some of the errors we had and just pick up intensity.”
“We would have loved a faster start for sure, and I think the good thing was that we hung in there," head coach Brent Vigen added. "We were able to create energy, which means we played better.”
Portland State’s flex defense posed problems early on for the Cats, holding them to just 85 total yards in the first quarter. They trailed by as much as seven points to the unranked Vikings but finally found some rhythm on the ground with Isaiah Ifanse.
“It was good to just carry the ball as much as I did," junior running back Isaiah Ifanse chucked. "I liked it.”
Of Saturday’s 48 rush attempts, which has been the most all season for Montana State, Ifanse carried the load with 30 finishing just 10-yards short of his single-game career-high with 217 and one touchdown.
“Coach [JImmy] Beal was just telling us in the beginning of the week when we’re running the ball there may be some that’s negative two yards, some that are zero yards, but there’s going to be some that we’re going to gash," Ifanse explained.
After a stagnant two quarters in the passing game, Matt McKay ignited the flame with McCutcheon to put the Cats up 23-17. On the 75-yard drive, 53 of those were aired out to the vet, who finished with 161 on the day.
“You have to be willing to kind of play the long game and understand that they’re going to some paths to the ball," Vigen said. "They make it hard to get outside, and then they’ve got numbers inside, so I thought we kind of settled in and found from a schematic perspective the runs that were producing and then kind of rode them. I think we wore them down, so that push becomes a little greater as you go along.”
The Bobcats will open up begin a two-game slate at home next Saturday starting with Northern Colorado.