#3 Montana State runs throughout #13 Montana in Brawl of the Wild win

BOZEMAN — Tommy Mellott’s legendary start to his football career in Montana State hit another high on Saturday.

Mellott, his offensive line, and the usual MSU ensemble of runners led the 3rd-ranked Bobcats to a 55-21 win over No. 13 Montana in the 121st Brawl of the Wild Saturday afternoon at Bobcat Stadium in Bozeman. The win ties MSU’s largest winning margin in a Cat Griz win and grabs at least a share of the Big Sky Conference title for the first time since 2012.

Mellott made an immediate name for himself, running four times for 46 yards on the opening drive, which ended with a 1-yard touchdown run by the sophomore from Butte.

The Griz (7-4, 4-4 Big Sky) responded with a 30-yard TD pass from Lucas Johnson to Malik Flowers four minutes later, but the Cats (10-1, 8-0) marched right back on that Field. again without a pass attempt. Mellott made it 14-7 on a 12-yard run.

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On the following trip, the tide really turned. Less than a month after Weber State conceded four safeties on high snaps at Bobcat Stadium, UM long snapper Grayson Pibal did the same, and this time it wasn’t a two-point game. Jory Choate, son of former MSU head coach Jeff “Griz Slayer” Choate, caught up the fumble at the 3:13 mark of the first quarter to give the Cats a 21-7 lead.

Mellott called the signals alone last month after starting the season in a two-QB system with Sean Chambers. Mellott suffered a scary head injury in the first quarter on September 24 in Eastern Washington and didn’t return until October 15 in Northern Colorado. Not only did Chambers lead the Cats to a thrilling win over EWU, he rushed and passed 200 yards apiece in a 41-24 win over now-present UC Davis and shone in a blowout at Idaho State the following week.

This UNC game was the last Mellott and Chambers played together until Saturday. Chambers made an early name for himself with some bruising, chain-moving runs and hit his 17th TD of the season with a 1-yard run in 4th place at 7:52 in the first half.

The Griz looked like they could pick up some momentum at halftime when they hit the MSU 1-yard line late in the second quarter. But Johnson fumbled after faking a handoff, and Bozeman grad Callahan O’Reilly found her again. Once again, the Cats drove down the field and led 31-7 at halftime thanks to a 35-yard field goal from Blake Glessner after time was up.

MSU finished the first half for 306 total yards, 267 of them on the ground. UM had 102 total yards and 18 rushing. The Cats only attempted a pass early in the second quarter on their 16th offensive play of the game.

Reigning Big Sky and FCS Player of the Week Marqui Johnson continued his strong November with a 27-yard TD run at the 11:54 mark of the third quarter, and another Glessner field goal did it to a 10-0 in the third quarter for MSU.

With 12:50 to go, Derryk Snell faked a run and completed a jump pass to fellow Wide Open Treyton Pickering for an 18-yard TD.

UM’s Isiah Childs scored 4 ½ minutes later to make it 48-14, the same score as MSU’s home win in 2019, the last Cat Griz game at Bobcat Stadium before Saturday. The Cats crushed that symmetry with a 3-yard TD run from RJ Fitzgerald with 3:13 remaining. The senior Dillon full-back is a team captain and carries MSU’s #41 legacy.

Daniel Britt completed a 32-yard TD pass to Cole Grossman with a 1:53 left.

The Cats finished with 439 rushing yards, their all-time high against the Griz.

This story will be updated.