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Travis Jonsen was back to a position he’s used to.

The Montana State junior lined up behind center in shotgun against Incarnate Word in the first round of the FCS playoffs in a cold Bobcat Stadium. This is where he thought he would be after transferring from Oregon and a junior college and competing in a quarterback position battle.

Instead, Jonsen lost to converted linebacker and running back Troy Andersen in that competition. He himself then converted to wide receiver and is still trying to learn the nuances of running routes.

Still, the Bobcats found a package of plays for Jonsen to play as a wildcat quarterback. So with Andersen lined up to the left, Jonsen took the snap, saw UIW packed the line of scrimmage and ran to Andersen’s side.

Despite being beat in the QB battle, Jonsen blocked plenty for Andersen on his way to a national second-best 20 total touchdowns. So Andersen was more than happy to block a UIW defensive back well out of the way as Jonsen trotted in for a 19-yard touchdown.

Jonsen also caught a 37-yard touchdown pass later in the fourth quarter from Andersen to power MSU to victory. The No. 23 Bobcats advanced to play at No. 1 North Dakota State on Saturday in the second round of the FCS playoffs.

“He’s so dynamic in space. He bounced that (run), and I was in the way (on a block) I guess,” Andersen said with a laugh. “And he did the rest.”

After competing for the same spot, the two have had to build a solid QB-WR relationship. But that was easy for both of them.

Even since the offseason, Jonsen has been trying to convince Andersen to go out fishing, though neither have much time during the season. The fact the two want to spend their spare time together, though, illustrates the relationship they’ve developed.

“I think he plays hard and I feel like I play hard, and we’re both attracted to that,” Jonsen said. “I want to play hard for him, and I know he wants to play hard for this whole team.”

The first time Andersen met Jonsen was on a basketball gym during the offseason. Andersen witnessed Jonsen dunk on someone “so hard” and instantly realized how athletic he was. Then Andersen watched Jonsen truck a defender early in fall camp which proved to Andersen he’s “something special” on the football field too.

Even while they were fighting for the same spot, Andersen and Jonsen built chemistry immediately. As Jonsen said, “there was no beef” as the two quickly became friends. Andersen said he’s happy that Jonsen is on his side.

When Jonsen went from throwing passes to catching them, he knew what a quarterback was looking for. He knew how to effectively communicate, how to get open and where Andersen was going with the ball.

“I understand him because I was in his place,” Jonsen said. “I feel him out and understand what he likes and doesn’t like.”

Jonsen’s move to receiver elevated the entire position group, Andersen said, because it’s just another weapon for defenses to worry about. Andersen added that Jonsen “is a first-class guy” who took the position change in stride.

“It’s really unselfish. That just shows who he is,” Andersen said. “He does whatever it takes for the team to win.”

Bobcats head coach Jeff Choate complimented Andersen’s dedication to the team for changing positions and Jonsen for not showing any signs of jealousy in the position switch. Jonsen believes he’s always had a team-first mentality, and even when he was beaten out by Andersen, he wanted to bring the same approach.

“I’ll do anything for my guys,” Jonsen said.

Jonsen and Andersen take as much pride in blocking on touchdown runs for each other as they do scoring TDs themselves, which Choate said is a result of the relationship they’ve built.

“I think it’s one of mutual respect,” Choate said. “They both happen to be exceptional athletes. Right now, the skill set is different but the objective is the same.”

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Colton Pool can be reached at cpool@dailychronicle.com or 406-582-2690. Follow him on Twitter @CPoolReporter.

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