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Montana State quarterback Tucker Rovig throws a pass against Sac State at Bobcat Stadium on Oct. 12.

Montana State trounced Southern Utah early and beat the Thunderbirds 42-7 on Saturday at Bobcat Stadium. No. 14-ranked MSU (6-3, 3-2 Big Sky) bludgeoned SUU (2-8, 1-5) by scoring quickly, playing suffocating defense and leaning on new contributors to pull away.

Here are three takeaways from the game.

MSU’s offense scores in quick fashion

After a punt on their first possession, the Bobcats found a rhythm offensively. Three of their five scoring drives in the first half took two plays or less. Their 42 first-half points were the fifth most in a half in school history.

MSU’s first touchdown was set up by a 23-yard pass from Tucker Rovig to Derryk Snell, followed by a 34-yard shovel pass to Lane Sumner and a 2-yard score by Sumner.

After an Amandre Williams interception gave the Bobcats the ball advantageous field position, Troy Andersen pitched the ball to Sumner for a 25-yard score on the second play of the drive. Then a Brayden Konkol interception set up a Tyrone Marshall 18-yard touchdown on a reverse.

Those quick strikes gave the Bobcats the separation they needed and immediately put the Thunderbirds into a challenging deficit. Rovig operated efficiently and put his teammates in position to capitalize. A week after scoring 12 points at North Dakota, MSU showed what it can do at its best offensively.

Bobcats’ defense swarms Thunderbirds

To allow their offense to expand the lead, the Bobcats forced SUU into six three and outs. Four of the Thunderbirds’ first five drives lasted four plays or less. The way MSU’s defense repeatedly swarmed to the ball forced the Thunderbirds out of sync.

The Bobcats finished with five sacks and 14 tackles for loss. Andersen, in addition to contributing early offensively, recorded eight tackles, two sacks and an interception. He was part of a front seven that constantly beat SUU’s offensive line and pressured the quarterback.

Both Williams’ interception and Konkol’s fumble recovery set up touchdowns as the Bobcats played a well-rounded football game. Head coach Jeff Choate mentioned the need for MSU to play complementary football earlier this season. On Saturday, that came to fruition.

New faces step up for MSU

Snell, a freshman tight end, caught a pass on each of MSU’s first two drives, which began a game in which the Bobcats turned to its less heralded players. In the second quarter, Rovig rolled to his right and hit Snell wide open on the back side of the field for a 10-yard touchdown.

That score came after freshman wide receiver Jaden Smith burned SUU’s defense and also caught a wide open pass down the sideline for a 47-yard score, the first catch of Smith’s career. Midway through the second quarter, Marshall took his first career rush 18 yards into the end zone.

The variety of Bobcats contributors reflected the next step in their evolution this season. Weeks earlier, a significant chunk of their entire offense revolved around wide receiver and wildcat quarterback Travis Jonsen. But Jonsen didn’t account for any carries or receptions on Saturday as MSU turned to others.

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