BOZEMAN, Mont. (WAVY) – After a slow start by both teams, Montana State broke through with eight-straight scoring drives on its way to a 55-7 rout of William & Mary Friday in the FCS quarterfinals before a frigid crowd of 14,367.
It finishes one of the best seasons in Tribe history at 11-2.
The Bobcats (12-1) finished with 473 yards of total offense to a season-low of 197 total yards for the Tribe, including a season-low 135 yards rushing and 62 yards passing.
Montana State, which reached the national championship game last season, will play either South Dakota State (11-1) or Holy Cross (12-0) in the FCS semifinals, who play Saturday at South Dakota State.
“To be in the FCS playoffs and play a caliber of team like this, this is the kind of rarified air we want to be in,” William & Mary coach Mike London said. “We want to be a team like Montana State that year-in and year-out is in the playoffs and competing for a championship.”
Bronson Yoder ran for 122 yards on 26 carries and had the Tribe’s only touchdown with 3:11 left in the fourth quarter, after Montana State already held a 55-0 lead.
As expected, the temperature at kickoff was 19 degrees at 8:15 p.m. local time and the field was frozen in spots. And the Tribe were essentially frozen in place by the Bobcats.
Both No. 4 Montana State and No. 5 William & Mary went three-and-out on their first two possessions. The Tribe went three-and-out on their next possession, but the Bobcats broke through on quarterback Tommy Mellott’s 22-yard touchdown run, and then on their next possession got a 68-yard touchdown run from Isaiah Ifanse to go up 14-0.
It took until about three minutes were gone in the second quarter before William & Mary got a first down, when Montana State was already ahead 17-0. By halftime, the Bobcats’ lead was 27-0.
Ifanse, who ran for 162 yards on 11 carries and was playing in just his second game since suffering a knee injury in last season’s FCS national championship game, put Montana State up 34-0 20 seconds into the third quarter on a 9-yard run, which was set up by a 87-yard kickoff return by Marqui Johnson to open the second half. About three minutes later, Mellott scored again.
The Bobcats scored again with 8:03 left in the third quarter on a 17-yard pass from Mellott to Clevan Thomas Jr. They got their final score of the game with 5:03 left in the quarter on a 79-yard punt return from Taco Dowler.
“In a mark of a good football team, they stayed consistent in everything they did throughout the game,” London said.
William & Mary had its best drive of the game late in the fourth quarter, going 84 yards in 10 plays in 5:24 before Yoder’s scoring run, but by then, it was far too late.