MSU Football v. Sac State

Montana State's Troy Andersen is taken down by Sacramento State's Allen Perryman after a run on Saturday at Bobcat Stadium.

Montana State (5-2, 2-1 Big Sky) fell behind by 14 points in the first half and lost to Sacramento State (4-2, 2-0) 34-21 on Saturday at Bobcat Stadium.

The loss snaps No. 6-ranked MSU’s five-game win streak and the Bobcats enter the bye with their first loss since the season opener. Here are three takeaways from the game.

Thomson shreds MSU’s defense

Sac State quarterback Kevin Thomson entered the game completing 64% of his passes and 295 passing yards per game. He found ways to torch MSU’s defense by delivering passes exactly where he wanted.

Late in the third quarter, Thomson faked a handoff stepped toward his right and then slid back to his left to find an open Marshel Martin for a 26-yard touchdown. The receiver was positioned too far behind linebacker Nolan Askelson and too far from safety Jahque Alleyne for either of them to make a difference. It was another example during Thomson’s game-long clinic of his ability to pinpoint his targets.

Thomson completed 23 of 30 passes for 260 yards and three touchdowns while also rushing for two scores. He orchestrated an offense that scored on five of six consecutive possessions during the middle of the game, only failing because the Hornets knelt to end the first half.

Another week, another three straight touchdowns allowed

Two weeks ago against Northern Arizona, the Bobcats fell behind 21-0. Though they came back by scoring the game’s last 35 points to win, it was a deficit they likely can’t continue to afford putting themselves in. Last week at Cal Poly, they squandered a 28-7 lead before winning in overtime.

This week, MSU forced Sac State into a three-and-out on its first possession before allowing three straight touchdowns. Thomson repeatedly found holes in the Bobcats’ defense and perfectly placed passes.

Sac State was aided by a Jered Padmos punt that landed at MSU’s own 45. Three plays later, the Hornets scored their first touchdown. Their next two drives lasted 13 plays and 10 plays, respectively, as each went for 75 yards.

That put Sac State up 21-7 and in position to potentially pull away and the Hornets did.

Andersen, Jonsen power MSU’s offense

Late in the second quarter, MSU faced two key fourth downs and went for it on both. Both times, Troy Andersen took the direct snap and powered forward for enough yardage. It was a testament to how reliable he is despite not being a full-time offensive player this season.

Andersen, a junior who played running back as a freshman and quarterback as a sophomore, scored from 6 yards out on fourth and goal. He sprinted to the edge and outran every defender. Though he is also playing linebacker this season, Andersen again showed his value on offense.

Jonsen, who finished with 55 rushing yards on 14 carries and 109 receiving yards on five catches, also took a significant number of snaps behind center.

On the Bobcats’ first possession of the third quarter, Andersen rushed for 10 yards, then handed off to Jonsen for 14 yards. But after that, back-to-back Shane Perry runs and a sack of quarterback Tucker Rovig on third and 8 forced MSU to punt.

As the game continued, Sac State feasted on forcing the Bobcats into third and long situations. Rovig was sacked four times, and MSU’s offense struggled to find a rhythm. Instead of the usual second-half comeback, the Bobcats wilted.

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