BOZEMAN — After being handed an upset loss the week prior, No. 6-ranked Montana State had the chance to fold or to rise up in front of Bobcat nation on Saturday.
They chose the latter.
MSU stamped a 45-21 win over NAU, who's beaten, or been within a score of beating, a handful of top-25 teams this season.
The Bobcats ran for just under 350 yards on the ground, which started its dominance on the first drive — capped off with a nine-yard rushing touchdown from Tommy Mellott.
"It’s just, get a first down," Bobcats coach Brent Vigen said, referring to how every offensive possession in the first half of the week prior for his team went three-and-out until the final one.
"I think however we did it, just to move the chains, and have a positive beginning to the game, set the tone, however you want to look at it."
Both Mellott and Sean Chambers had a rushing touchdown, but the throwing game showed its flash as well.
That was highlighted by former Bozeman Hawk, Ryan Lonergan, and his first career touchdown for Montana State. The tight end, who’s stepped in for an injured Derryk Snell, connected on a 20-yard reception with Mellott for the score.
"Yeah, I can’t put it into words," he smiled. "That was awesome. That was a great experience."
He's been in for Snell at starter since Week 8 against Sacramento State, and every game he gets more comfortable.
"I felt definitely more comfortable out there then I did the previous game with Snell being out," Lonergan reflected. "You got to trust your training. You got to trust your film study. And just go out and play the sport you’ve been playing for however many years."
"He’s continued to gain experience being that third guy, now the second guy, and it turned out for much of that game he was the top guy," Vigen explained. "And Ryan has been around here a long time. He’s got all the tools, and he was able to flash some of them today, catching that football."
The team has been able to show resilience the entirety of Vigen’s tenure. They have never lost two consecutive games under his leadership.
"We still have got something to prove, you know," Bobcats safety/nickelback Level Price Jr. said. "So this week, the defense, we took steps, like we were watching film a lot. And, we usually take tests before games. We try to make a saying, a mantra, like, 'We don’t lose at home.'"
"Try to do better than the last time I guess," Vigen explained how his team was able to bounce back.
"But more, just be concerned about what can we do on this particular Saturday to put our best foot forward, and we did that from the start."
As the regular season nears it’s end with two weeks left, the Bobcats look ahead to senior day this upcoming Saturday.
Price put into words how much this moment and fanbase means to him, especially being someone who has battled injury this season and only has a limited amount of games left as a Bobcat.
"It felt good being back on the field, especially in front of the Bobcat fans," Price said. "It’s just exciting because, you know, I’m a senior. I only have a couple more games left in Bobcat Stadium, so I kind of took it up all."
He looked up to find the words about how much Montana State means to him, and then looked back at the media.
"I almost cried because it’s almost time," he said.