FCS Playoff Review: Montana State 24, Austin Peay 10
By CRAIG HALEY
The Score - No. 5 seed Montana State (11-3) beat Austin Peay (11-4) 24-10 in the quarterfinals of the FCS playoffs.
Story Line - Sophomore running back Isaiah Ifanse had one of the best games of his career and the Montana State defense forced three turnovers and handled Austin Peay's potent offense for three quarters while building a 24-3 lead.
Game Ball - Ifanse broke off a 60-yard touchdown run on the game's third play from scrimmage on his way to 196 yards on 26 carries. He also took a direct snap and lofted a 2-yard scoring pass to Jason Scrempos, normally a defensive tackle, in the third quarter. Ifanse had never thrown a pass previously.
Key Stats - Take your pick, Austin Peay managed only 80 yards in the first three quarters, Montana State held an 386-197 overall advantage, including 279-2 on the ground, and were 8 of 17 on third-down conversions while the Governors were 1 of 14.
The Takeaway - The Bobcats have peaked at the right time of the season and stand one win away from their first championship game appearance since winning the national title in 1984. A different rusher seems to stand out in each game, which has allowed coach Jeff Choate's Big Sky team to go above 175 rushing yards against 12 of its 13 FCS opponents and set a school record with 3,723 rushing yards this season. How their gritty defense shut down Austin Peay's red-hot quarterback JaVaughn Craig (two interceptions, one lost fumble) bodes well against any signal caller.
Up Next - Montana State will face either No. 1 seed North Dakota State (13-0) or Illinois State (10-4), who play on Saturday, in a national semifinal Dec. 21. The Bobcats have never faced Illinois State and hold a 21-13 series lead over NDSU, although they were eliminated by the eventual champs 52-10 in last year's second round.
Updated December 13, 2019