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Montana State's multifaceted run game too much for McNeese State in Week 1

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Posted at 12:57 PM, Sep 06, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-06 14:57:22-04

BOZEMAN — Coming into a highly anticipated Week 1 match-up against McNeese State, one of the few question marks seemed to be at running back for the Bobcats. Graduate transfer Kaegun Williams was believed to be the starter in place of injured All-American Isaiah Ifanse.

Instead, junior Lane Sumner got the green light from head coach Brent Vigen after Williams was listed as inactive, and he did not disappoint.

Out with a non-practice related injury, Williams was inactive for Saturday night’s Gold Rush game meaning depth on the ground was paramount. The Huntley Project native Sumner stepped into the starting role, ending the night with 176 yards on 24 carries.

PHOTOS: No. 4 Montana State overpowers McNeese State in opener

“I think we felt like he could be a very productive back and it was great to see that tonight,” Vigen said.

With multiple big plays from Sumner thanks to the threat of Tommy Mellott’s ability to run and the brand new offensive line, there was room to roam for Sumner who made multiple big plays.

“The boys up front made it easy on me tonight, opened up the holes and my job was just to hit them,” Sumner said. “We go out there and nobody really knows what we're going to do so I think that brings a surprise element and it lets us hit bigger holes … everybody’s looking at Tommy and I can kind of sneak off to one side and get a nice little run.”

In addition to Mellott and Sumner, 6-foot-3 backup quarterback Sean Chambers punched it in for two scores in goal-line situations, showing that they have a running threat between the tackles in short-yardage situations.

“We’re a little bit down at the running back position,” Vigen admitted. “Tommy is going to get his carries, but he doesn’t need to get all of them. Sean's an effective runner so it's a combination of all those three things.”

Offensive depth will continue to be area of interest especially in the run game, but for Vigen, right now it’s a next man up mentality as they head into week two at home against Morehead State.

“You got to have the next man up mentality,” Vigen stated. “The next guy up has got to come in and be able to do the job and I know there's a lot of guys out there, probably, Lane included, to be in a higher profile position for the first time.”

In total, the Bobcats had 359 net rushing yards and 541 total yards. The multifaceted run game and the rest of the offense will have another test at home against Morehead State on Saturday. Kickoff is set for 1:30 p.m.