BOZEMAN — From start to finish, Montana State dominated the 121st Brawl of the Wild.
The Bobcats ran for a staggering 439 yards on the way to a 55-21 trouncing of rival Montana on Saturday at Bobcat Stadium. With the win, the Bobcats (10-1, 8-0 Big Sky) finished conference play undefeated for the first time since 1976 and earned a share of the league title for the first time since 2012. They will be a high seed for the FCS playoffs and are assured of a first-round bye.
Montana fell to 7-4 overall and 4-4 in the Big Sky. The Grizzlies will wait to find out if they are a part of the playoff field. The FCS playoff bracket announcement is Sunday at 10:30 a.m. on ESPNU.
Bobcats quarterback Tommy Mellott rushed for 141 yards and two touchdowns, and also threw for 104 yards on just 6-of-8 passing. Elijah Elliott had 127 rushing yards, quarterback Sean Chambers added 94 yards and Marqui Johnson contributed 74 yards on the ground.
A week after piling up 545 rushing yards in a victory at Cal Poly, the Cats rushed for five touchdowns and averaged 6.7 yards per carry. MSU's offense piled up 561 total yards and 32 first downs.
The Cats avenged last year's 29-10 loss in Missoula and claimed the Great Divide Trophy for the fifth time in the past six meetings with the Griz.
"Winning this game and getting that trophy back feels as good as you thought that it might," said Mellott, whose team shares the Big Sky Crown with Sacramento State (11-0, 8-0). "Obviously, we care about this game, but we care about every game. But it was good to win this one against our rivals and get rid of that bitter taste that we had from last year."
An early turning point occurred with the Bobcats leading 14-7 in the first quarter and Montana lined up to punt the ball. But the snap sailed over the head of punter Patrick Rohrbach, who attempted to recover the ball in the end zone. Instead, MSU’s Jory Choate recovered it for an MSU touchdown to put the Bobcats ahead by two scores with 3:13 left in the first quarter.
In the second quarter, with the Griz trailing 28-7 but on the doorstep of a much-needed touchdown, Montana QB Lucas Johnson lost the ball on a fake handoff. The loose change was recovered by MSU’s Callahan O’Reilly on the 3-yard line with 4:51 before halftime.
Montana State's defense limited Montana to 315 total yards and forced three turnovers.
The Grizzlies tied the game 7-7 in the first quarter on a 30-yard touchdown pass from Lucas Johnson to Malik Flowers, but the Bobcats reeled off 41 consecutive points to put the game away.
"First of all, congratulations to them," Montana coach Bobby Hauck said. "They whipped us and whipped us good. It's like the inverse of last year's game a little bit and not as enjoyable on this side of it, certainly. So they did a good job. We didn't coach well enough and we didn't play well enough to get it done today and they did, so good on them."
Check out the full highlight package in the video above.