CHENEY, Wash. — Saturday marked a statement win for the Bobcats taking down No. 5 Eastern Washington (7-2, 4-2) on their home turf, 23-20, marking eight straight wins as the Bobcats (6-1, 6-0) head into their last two games of the regular season.
"I said it back on Monday I believe, it was going to take a team effort - the time of possession, the way it was tilted," Bobcats head football coach Brent Vigen said. "Even though we didn’t capitalize in the red zone offensively, they were over on the sideline quite a bit.”
Defense and a balanced offense were the recipes for success Saturday, snapping a seven-game losing streak to the Eagles.
“All the way around - special teams, defense, offense - I thought it was clear that we were trying our best to be physical," offensive lineman Lewis Kidd said.
The Bobcats contained Eastern’s high-powered offense holding them to just 314 yards - half of what they’ve averaged this season.
While all-American Eric Barriere was still efficient in the backfield completing 68-percent of his passes, he only threw for 214 yards, which is 200 less than what he normally produces.
“Keeping a quarterback at bay as talented as him - he still made a bunch of plays, but I think we won that battle," Vigen said. "I’ll take great defense over great offense any day, and I think that’s the way it worked out today.”
Even though the Bobcats may have left some points on the field, they still racked in 544 yards of total offense.
Matt McKay opened the game with a 56-yard house call, but it was Isaiah Ifanse’s game-high 217 that played a big part in Saturday’s win.
“Isaiah - he’s a hard guy to bring down, and for him to be on that other side of 30 again with his carries, I think that’s just what it took today," Vigen said. "He needed to be able to make some plays and break some tackles, and he did just that.”
“We have a special guy in 22," Kidd added. "We have a lot of weapons on offense, and Isaiah is one of them. He’s an awesome back, and he makes us right a lot of times, too.”
With just two games left on their schedule, Vigen says the quest for a national championship begins now.
“We’re in November now, and everybody wants to point to the playoffs and say championships are won in December," Vigen said. They’re won in November. They’re won as you continue to play better and get better and come on the right side of games where you’re really tested. We’re here now and we need to find a way this week, next week, moving forward to keep getting better, and that’s what will ultimately propel us into whatever we can do down the road.”
Montana State returns to Bobcat Stadium this Saturday for their last home game of the regular season against Idaho (3-6, 2-4) with kickoff set for 1 p.m. MT.