There’s an old saying that says, “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight that matters; it’s the size of the fight in the dog.” That much was evident in an emotional effort by Montana State’s undersized defense in the Bobcats’ 16-10 second-round FCS playoff win over Stony Brook Saturday night in Bozeman, Mont.
The Bobcats’ defensive front was outweighed by 40 pounds per man against a Stony Brook offensive line averaging 305 pounds. But after some early success by Seawolves running backs Miguel Maysonet and Marcus Coker, Montana State did a great job of preventing the SBU pair form taking over the game.
Maysonet (pictured) totaled 83 yards rushing on 19 carries, and Coker added 56 on 12 carries. But even though Stony Brook’s 123 rushing yards surpassed the Bobcats’ average allowed of 96.0 yards, it was far below the Seawolves’ per game average of 288.2 yards. When they don’t dominate on the ground, the Seawolves struggle.
They managed only seven rushing first downs, and after controlling the ball for 16:55 in the first half, they had it only 12:09 in the second half. In the third quarter, the Seawolves had three possessions. Two went three-and-out, and the third ended with a Maysonet fumble at the Montana State 21.
“We came out with great energy,” Bobcats defensive end Brad Daly said. “We stuck to our game plan. It worked in the first half, too, except for the first drive.”
Stony Brook coach Chuck Priore was impressed by the hard hitting by both sides. “That was one physical game with two pretty good teams,” Priore said. “We were punching each other.”
Certainly, Stony Brook laid some huge hits on Montana State quarterback DeNarius McGhee, who absorbed it and kept coming back, rushing for 75 yards and passing for 208 and a touchdown. But even more important for the Bobcats, their defense should it could take a power punch and keep coming.
The Seawolves failed to get so much as a first down in their final two possessions with the game still there to be won. After Rory Perez missed a 45-yard field goal attempt with 1:41 to play, the Bobcats unleashed a huge pass rush on Essington, who threw a wild pass out of bounds under pressure and was swarmed for sacks by the 6-1, 240-pound Daly on the last two plays, losing a fumble on the second that Daly recovered.
Daly was lined up across from 6-8, 345-pound Seawolves all-Big South tackle Michael Bamiro, and that made the ending all the more special for Daly. “I was going up against the biggest human being I’ve ever seen,” Daly said. “I knew I wasn’t going to go through him, so, I had to go around him. I held my own and got a little help from the linebackers.”
All Maysonet could do when it was over was shake his head and give credit to the Bobcats’ defense. “We expected everything they did,” Maysonet said. “But they’ve got a good linebacking crew and a good defensive front. They did a good job.”