BOZEMAN — In a 45-7 win over Cal Poly, the Montana State defense continues to shine under new defensive coordinator Freddie Banks, as they created four against the Mustangs and over the last two weeks they’ve held their opponents to only 14 points.
Montana State scored 21 points of off turnovers in the game.
“Those takeaways, particularly the one’s down on their end, were huge and we were able to do enough things to build up a 35-0 lead at halftime,“ said head coach Brent Vigen.
Up 7-0 Montana State gained all the momentum on an interception by senior defensive back Tyrel Thomas. The ball was jarred loose as Jeffrey Manning Jr. hit the intended receiver right after he caught the ball and Thomas caught it. Montana State then scored a little over a minute later to go up 14 on a rushing touchdown by junior running back Isaiah Ifanse.
“When they get a turnover or anything we just got to go score and put points on the board," said McKay on the the turnover gave the offense momentum. "I think we definitely feed off each other and make each other better in practice so it’s fun to see.”
A 12 game starter in 2019, Thomas returned to the lineup after missing every game this season due to an injury.
“It was just exciting to have Tyrel out there and I was just telling him to let it fly and do what you do really and then as you see, that’s what Tyrel does on an everyday basis,” Manning Jr. said.
“Heck of an interception and it was just good to have his presence back there," said Vigen. "Tyrel is one of our better competitors for sure. Getting him healthy took a little bit longer than we may have hoped but good to have him back out there making plays.”
Another player who got an interception was junior free safety Jeffrey Manning Jr.. It was his second of the year. Head coach Brent Vigen values Manning’s consistency.
“We need our free safey to be able to cover a lot of ground and tackle the football and Jeff’s been able to do both of that," said the Bobcats head coach. "Obviously, the big play the stands out is the interception, but Jeff’s really going out there every down and providing consistency and playmaking ability.”
Callahan O’Reilly scored the first defensive touchdown of his career on a 39-yard interception return to begin the third quarter and put Montana State up 42-0.
“Obviously anytime you get the ball you want to score," said O'Reilly about his second interception of the season. "That’s definitely better than the last one. We preach takeaways at practice so to go out there and get one always feels good.”
Although defense is playing extremely well, they know plays were left out on the field and they can get even better. Montana State came into the game sixth in the FCS in points allowed per game (12) and after today's game is only giving up 11.
“We play the sport of football so I never really think it’s going to be perfect," Manning Jr. said. "I think all we can really do is hone into our preparation and just execute at the highest ability that we can.”