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Montana State running back Isaiah Ifanse carries the ball Saturday at Bobcat Stadium.

Everything went Montana State’s way to start. The plan head coach Jeff Choate enacted worked to perfection.

Bobcats pass rushers Bryce Sterk and Troy Andersen pressured Southeast Missouri quarterback Daniel Santacaterina. They forced a punt after three plays. Then Coy Steel blocked that and gave MSU the ball just 42 yards from the end zone.

Two plays later, Andersen took a direct snap and sprinted past everyone for a touchdown. Anyone wondering how involved Andersen would be offensively received their answer.

In a contest between the No. 12-ranked Redhawks (1-1) and No. 13 MSU (1-1), both teams recognized Saturday’s importance. Choate said the Week 2 matchup could have playoff implications. And MSU stuck to its plan in order to defeat SEMO 38-17 at Bobcat Stadium.

The Bobcats have stressed the need to earn a top-eight seed in the playoffs. A win against a fellow ranked opponent would go a long way to accomplishing that. MSU’s performance Saturday showed it’s ready to take that next step.

And after a rocky second quarter that featured a series of squandered opportunities, Andersen again injected life into the offense to start the third. He took a direct snap, broke two tackles and didn’t go down until he reached SEMO’s 9-yard line. A play later, he handed off to DeMareus Hosey who put the Bobcats up again. That kicked off 28 straight points that put MSU comfortably in front.

After leading the Bobcats to the playoffs last year, Andersen shifted from quarterback to outside linebacker. With him seemingly no longer in the picture behind center, the QB battle took center stage in the preseason. But starter Casey Bauman took a back seat Saturday as Andersen shined once again.

Bauman finished 13-of-24 passing for 136 yards. He managed the game and didn’t throw any interceptions. And when MSU needed a big play on offense, the coaches inserted Andersen into the game.

He was always going to have a role touching the ball, but how large remained a mystery. The Bobcats intentionally didn’t unveil their entire arsenal a week ago at Texas Tech. Against the Redhawks, Andersen finished with 102 yards and two touchdowns on six carries. He also recorded two tackles for loss, a sack, a pass breakup and a quarterback hurry.

After Hosey’s touchdown, Andersen scored again from 2 yards out. He faced the MSU student section and pointed to the sky to celebrate. He was also indicating the Bobcats’ potential when he runs the ball.

Paul Schwedelson can be reached at pschwedelson@dailychronicle.com or 406-582-2670. Follow him on Twitter @pschweds.

Paul Schwedelson is a sports writer for the Bozeman Daily Chronicle.