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Norfolk State football strikes first, but falls to Montana State

Norfolk State Spartans

BOZEMAN, Mont. (Spartans Communications) – Tucker Rovig threw four touchdown passes and led an offense which amassed 670 yards of total offense as No. 8 Montana State topped Norfolk State 56-21 at Bobcat Stadium on Saturday.

In the first meeting between the teams, the Bobcats (3-1) rushed for 449 yards and threw for 221 more to send NSU (1-3) to its second straight loss. Lane Sumner (113), Shane Perry (111) and Logan Jones (101) all topped the 100-yard rushing mark for MSU.

Juwan Carter passed for 243 yards and two touchdowns to lead NSU’s offensive attack.

In their first game played west of the Mississippi since 2001, the Spartans struck first on a 6-yard TD pass from Carter to tight end Anthony Williams at the 6:13 mark of the first quarter. The pair’s second TD hookup in as many weeks capped an 80-play yard drive that was highlighted by a 57-yard completion from Carter to Da’Kendall James.

But Montana State responded by scoring 21 unanswered points. Jones ran for a pair of touchdowns two minutes apart. His 16-yard TD run tied the score at 7-7. Two plays after MSU recovered a Spartan fumble at the NSU 40, Jones scored on a 4-yard run for a 14-7 Bobcat lead with 51 seconds left in the first quarter.

The Bobcats went to the air in the second quarter, as Rovig threw touchdowns of 34 yards to Coy Steel and 8 yards to Travis Jonsen. Those scoring plays sandwiched an 8-yard TD pass from Carter to Kevin Johnson. A missed 40-yard field goal by MSU just before the half kept the score 28-14 at the intermission.

The Bobcats scored on their first two possessions of the third quarter to pull away. The matching 69-yard drives were capped by a pair of scoring passes from Rovig, covering 13 yards to Steel and 21 to Kevin Kassis. The latter put MSU ahead 42-14 with 5:27 left in the third quarter.

The Spartans had a quick answer as Johnson scored two plays later on an 84-yard touchdown run, the longest play from scrimmage for NSU this year.

Sumner ran for TD runs of 3 and 58 yards in the fourth quarter to complete the scoring.

Johnson rushed for a career-high 112 yards on just eight carries and also caught three passes for 26 yards. James caught five passes for 103 yards, his second time over 100 yards receiving this year.

Steel caught two TD passes for MSU, which scored on all but three possessions – a first quarter punt, the missed field goal in the second quarter and when it ran out the clock in the fourth quarter.

The Spartans return home for their next two games to open MEAC play. It begins with a 4 p.m. matchup against Florida A&M next Saturday on Youth Day at Dick Price Stadium.

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