BSC Week 12 Review
Lance Berndt & Kris Kallem, BSC Contributors | November 24, 2015
Montana 54 Montana State 35
Most of this game seemed a lot closer than the score turned out to be. Montana just happened to make more big plays, and Montana State made more big penalties. After the Bobcats took an early lead and the Griz had struggled their first couple drives, Brady Gustafson started to heat up. While Montana State’s run defense held strong all game, Gustafson kept being there to make the big play, especially in the first half. After those two opening punts, Montana scored on all 7 of its remaining offensive drives in the first half, jumping out to a 37-14 halftime lead. The Bobcats made a lot of noise the first 20 minutes of the second half, even cutting the lead down to 9 points. The Grizzlies held on after that scoring the final 10 points. One positive point for the Bobcats is that they played great defense for most of the game, something they hadn’t really done most of the season. Yes, they allowed 54 points, but that was essentially just on big plays. Gustafson was forced into 17 incompletions, and when you take away John Nguyen’s 48 yard run, Montana only ran the ball for 152 yards on 47 carries. That’s barely 3 yards per carry. It is impressive to think that the Griz could score 54 points with those relatively weak offensive numbers. A couple receivers had big games for the two teams. Jamaal Jones led the Griz with 132 yards and 3 TDs on 9 receptions. TE Beau Sandland racked up 163 yards and 2 TDs on 7 receptions. Although they had a lot of incompletions, both QBs threw for over 300 yards with Prukop passing for 3 TDs and Gustafson throwing 4 TDs. On defense, Mac Bignell had a solid day for the Cats with 10 solo tackles, 4 tackles for loss, and a quarterback hurry. Kendrick Van Ackeren once again led the Griz with 11 solo tackles, 2 tackles for loss, 1 sack, and 1 big momentum swinging interception.
Southern Utah 49 Northern Arizona 41
In a game where the favorite had seemed to choke away the victory the last few seasons, Southern Utah held tough and picked up the big win and their first Big Sky Football championship trophy. It was a very offensive game as both teams gained over 600 yards. With a shot at the conference trophy on the line, freshman Case Cookus didn’t waiver at the start passing for 3 first half TDs and led Northern Arizona to a 24-14 halftime lead. While they struggled for much of the game, Southern Utah’s defense stepped up for parts of the second half, forcing two big Lumberjack fumbles and holding NAU to just 10 points on their first 7 second half offensive drives. Ammon Olsen kept rolling during that period leading the Thunderbirds to 5 TDs in the final 30 minutes of play. In the stat book, a few names made quite the impact. For Northern Arizona, Corbin Jountti and Kendyl Taylor combined for 223 rushing yards and 1 TD on 38 carries. Case Cookus passed for 350 yards and 4 TDs, while receivers Emmanuel Butler and Dejzon Walker combined for 15 receptions for 184 yards and 2 TDs. On the T-Bird side, Ammon Olsen threw for 430 yards, 5 TDs, and no interceptions. WR Mike Sharp hauled in 8 receptions for 169 yards and 3 TDs and TE Steven Wroblewski caught 9 balls for 93 yards and a TD. With all of the offense, Southern Utah won the turnover battle 4 to 1, and with the 8 point win, that might have proved to be the key factor.
UC-Davis 35 Sacramento State 21
After losing their first 5 road games by an average of 18 points, UC-Davis looked great against their Causeway Classic rival. They had a 21-0 lead at halftime and held on for the 14 point win. It was a nice look to the future for the Aggies as well. Freshman C.J. Spencer handled the QB position with ease passing for 312 yards and 3 TDs. Junior Manusamoa Luuga ran for 117 yards, and junior Chris Martin had 115 receiving yards. Junior Brady Stibi led the defense with 10 total tackles, while sophomore Brandon Weaver had 2 sacks. The Hornets had solid performances from who have come to be the usual suspects in the last month of this season. Nate Ketteringham passed for 296 yards and 2 TDs, with Shane Harrison catching 9 of those passes for 99 yards and 1 TD. Darnell Sankey finished with 17 total tackles which left him just 1 shy of the Hornets single season record. Still, 152 tackles in an 11-game season is quite the feat. With their youth, especially from the Aggies, these two teams start to work towards the 2016 season. With solid freshman QBs, these two could very well make much more of an impact next season in the Big Sky.
Northern Colorado 40 Abilene Christian 36
Congratulations to the Bears in completing their first winning season at the Division I level. Freshman quarterback Jacob Knipp and freshman running back Trae Riek were at it again for UNC with Knipp passing for 293 yards and 3 touchdowns and Riek adding a pair of scores while rushing for 153 yards and gaining another 90 receiving. Definitely some positives to look forward to next year in Greeley.
Weber State 35 Idaho State 14
Not much of a surprise here as Weber rolls up 306 yards on the ground and puts Idaho State away early. The Wildcats were led on the ground by the 112 yards of Eric Wilkes. After Idaho State’s breakout year in 2014 it was tough watching talented seniors like Madison Mangum, Xavier Finney, and Cody Sorensen end their careers on such a disappointing note.
Portland State 34 Eastern Washington 31
Eastern Washington started this game where they’d left off the previous two with a fumbled kickoff on the first play at the 11, resulting in a quick Portland State score. The Eagle defense was able to force the Vikings into 4 punts in the first half keeping the game close. That same defense forced zero punts in the second half including a 5 minute drive to run out the clock and preserve the win. Eastern turned the ball over an astonishing 14 times it’s last three games. I was really impressed with Portland State Quarterback Alex Kuresa. He’s a duel threat who throws it well enough, and makes great decisions with the ball.
North Dakota 45 Cal Poly 21
We finally get to use a nickname for North Dakota and it fits their performance here. The Fighting Hawks, did something few teams have been able to do…holding the nation’s #1 rushing attack to just 153 yards…that’s over 250 yards below the Mustangs average. The young tandem of quarterback Keaton Studsrud and John Santiago led a balanced North Dakota offense which put up 474 combined yards, in the rout. The Fighting Hawks deserved a an at-large playoff bid, and should definitely be in the mix for one next year.
Players of the Week
Ammon Olsen and John Santiago share the offensive honors. Olsen for his 430 yard 5 touchdown performance to seal the conference title against NAU. Santiago’s 112 yards against Cal Poly helped him become the first true freshman in the 53 year history of the Big Sky Conference to win the rushing title.
Portland State’s A.J. Schlatter gets the nod on defense. Schlatter notched 12 tackles, 3.5 for a loss, and 2 sacks in the win at Eastern Washington
Montana kicker Daniel Sullivan is the Special Teams winner, going a perfect 4 for 4 on field goal attempts and 6 for 6 on PAT’s.
This is the final BSC Review of the season. I would like to personally thank our reporters Lance & Kris for their fine work this 2015 football season. It is much appreciated that you guys put forth the effort you do each week for FCS Football in general. A tip of the cap to both of you.