Football falls in season opener


File Photo

Steve McShane carries the ball down the sideline as pressure approaches.

Brendan Reidy , Courier Staff

Macomb, Ill. — Western Illinois University kicked off their season against Montana State University this past Thursday night and lost by a close score of 26-23. The Leathernecks now move onto 0-1 on the season.

The two teams had polar opposite seasons a year ago, but this contest was a good one. There was lots of hype heading into the season opener for the Leathernecks, and with good reason too. The Leathernecks brought back senior captain, and starting quarterback Sean McGuire along with electric running back Steve McShane. This is also the first season with head coach Jared Elliott at the helm of the program.

“The first thing we have to take away from this as a football team is we are proud of the way our team played today. They played with great effort; they battled, it was a back and forth game. I had a feeling this was going to be a dogfight,” Elliott said. “Our kids continued to play well in a hostile environment, but at the end of the day, we have to make those three plays that we didn’t. We turned the ball over more than they did. They won the field position battle, and overall, we have to make those plays when we need them the most.”

The first game of the season kicked off at Bobcat Stadium at 8 p.m. It was a brisk and windy night in the state of Montana, but the energy in the building kept everyone warm. It was Montana State’s “Gold Rush” game, and was a sellout crowd for the Bobcats.

Home field advantage was in full effect at Montana State with the stadium filling up hours before game time, but the Fighting Leathernecks came out hot.

Western Illinois University got on the board first early in the game. McShane ran into the end zone on a three-yard scamper just over six minutes into the game. Later on in the first quarter, Montana State puts together a 52 yard drive, and walked away with a field goal to cap off their offensive sequence making the score 7-3 to end the first quarter.

However, it did not take long for the Leathernecks to answer. McShane capped off an 85-yard drive with a spectacular 18-yard touchdown catch from McGuire, but Sam Crosa’s missed extra point made the score 13-6. Western was in control of the game until McGuire threw an interception late in the second quarter. The Bobcats capitalized on the Leatherneck’s mistake kicking a field goal as time expired to make it a one-possession game going into the break.

Montana State got the ball to start off the second half, and came out of the break slinging the football. The Bobcats’ quarterback, Troy Anderson, was spectacular. He led an 81-yard drive to start off the half, and rushed for Montana State’s first touchdown of the game. With the score tied, Western turned to their work horse, McShane. McShane notched his third touchdown of the contest with four minutes left in the third quarter giving Western a seven-point lead.

However, that lead did not last long. Anderson answered right back rushed in for second touchdown of the evening, knotting up the score at 20 a piece heading into the final quarter.

Early in the final quarter, Crosa drilled a 38-yard field goal for the Leathernecks gave them the lead, but it did not last long. MSU answered right back with a field goal of their own which tied up the ball game at 23 a piece.

With 4:02 left in the game, a 35-yard field goal put the Bobcats ahead leaving the game with a final score of 26-23.

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