PORTLAND, Ore. — Montana State took its shot against the FBS on Saturday but was unable to keep pace as Oregon State of the Pac-12 handed the Bobcats their first loss of the season in blowout fashion, 68-28 at Providence Park.
MSU (2-1) surrendered five consecutive touchdowns in the first half and trailed 34-14 at intermission. In all, Oregon State (3-0) scored 10 TDs.
Beavers quarterback Chance Nolan finished the game with 276 passing yards and five total touchdowns, and OSU’s offense accumulated 540 total yards.
The Bobcats tied the game 7-7 on Sean Chambers’ 7-yard touchdown run in the first quarter but it was all Oregon State when it mattered after that. The Cats gave up 201 combined return yards on kickoffs and punts, including a touchdown.
Though he was bottled up in the first half, MSU QB Tommy Mellott had 135 rushing yards and 101 passing yards, and Chambers had three TDs. Mellott was picked off three times.
It was the first-ever matchup between Montana State and Oregon State. It was also MSU’s ninth straight loss in road openers. The Bobcats are still seeking their first win over an FBS team since beating Colorado in the 2006 season opener.
Turning point: Mellott threw the first two interceptions of his career in the first half, and both were costly.
First, the Butte High grad was intercepted by Ryan Cooper Jr. on MSU’s second possession, which led to a 1-yard TD plunge by Nolan and a 21-7 OSU lead.
Mellott was then picked off by Rejzohn Wright on MSU’s next series, and that produced a 9-yard touchdown pass from Nolan to Anthony Gould, putting the Beavers up 34-14 with 4:14 left before halftime.
Stat of the game: Montana State’s defense was unable to get off the field in the first half, as Oregon State converted its first five third-down plays and another on fourth down. Not coincidentally, the Beavers had 22 first downs and scored five touchdowns on six first-half possessions. Nolan had 252 yards and three passing TDs in the first two quarters.
Bobcat game balls: QB Tommy Mellott (offense). There wasn’t a lot to cheer about, especially in the first half. And even though he served up three interceptions, Mellott was MSU’s only consistent offense, as his 135 rushing yards and 101 passing yards attested. He averaged 7.5 yards per rush.
KR Marqui Johnson (special teams). Johnson had 190 kickoff return yards, including a 98-yard return for a touchdown at the 10:53 mark of the second quarter. It was MSU’s second special teams TD in as many weeks, coming on the heels of Taco Dowler’s 67-yard punt return against Morehead State.
What’s next: Next week the real season begins for the Bobcats, as they travel to play rival Eastern Washington at 2 p.m. Mountain time. MSU has been on the right side of only one of its previous eight games against the Eagles, but the Cats won atop “The Inferno” last season, 23-20.