BOZEMAN, Mont. - MSU lives on to play another day. Nobody said it had to be a pretty one to move onto the quarterfinals. This one was won with special teams, defense and clock management.
"Coaches for the defense deserve a ton of credit for putting together a game plan that was solid against a very complicated run game and a very physical run game and I thought the way we were able just to stop them in spite of the fact that they were a big, strong, physical team was a fantastic performance," said Bobcats Head Coach Rob Ash.
At this point in the playoffs games can be decided by just one or two plays, so the Bobcats realize how important executing on every moment of every down is.
"You have to break the game down into plays like you said. You can't really think about a quarter, you can't really think about a half. I mean you have to continue to focus each and every play and I think that's how you win," said quarterback DeNarius McGhee, who finished the game with 208 passing yards, a touchdown, and a team leading 96 rush yards.
"You can sit there and say maybe we made the mistakes or maybe they caused the mistakes. So I think on this Saturday evening we had a couple of key mistakes in the red zone that could have changed opportunities and could have changed the scoreboard," Stony Brook Head Coach Chuck Priore said.
"You never know when the big play is going to happen and they are huge. You can't really go out there and try to manufacture them through, you just have to play," said Ash.
After MSU marched down the field in the fourth quarter, only to miss a field goal with the chance to take a nine point lead, their defensive linemen took it upon themselves to make sure stony brook didn't put together a game-winning drive.
"Those last three plays, I mean after that missed field goal they just decided this game was not going to be lost. I mean they were going to make sure and that was as stunning a performance as I've seen at the end of a game by a defensive line. Really remarkable," Ash said of defensive end Brad Daly's two sacks to finish the game, the final one causing a fumble which the Cats recovered.
"I was going up against the biggest human I've ever seen in my life so I knew I had to go around him because there wasn't any way I was going through so I rushed the edge and I was lucky enough to get around. It's a dream play for an end to end the game on a sack. I mean those are some of the best feelings in the world," Daly said with a chuckle.
After MSU beat Stony Brook 16-10 they advance to the quarterfinals where they will host Sam Houston State, and you better believe that the Bobcats will be geared up for this one as last year in the playoffs Sam Houston ended MSU's season by running all over them. We'll see if things change this year.