BOZEMAN — Rob Ash used words like “tragedy” and “crestfallen” in the wake of Montana State’s 27-24 loss to Eastern Washington at Bobcat Stadium.
By all rights, it was a game the Cats should have won. In the end, their constant mistakes and blunders finally did them in.
In the end, the Bobcats probably got what was coming.
“We’re resilient,” the great DeNarius McGhee said in the postgame press conference.
And that’s no lie. But resiliency will only take you so far in this game.
At some point you must account for your slip-ups and lapses, and the Bobcats have had far too many up to the midpoint of this wild season.
Not even McGhee, the most gifted quarterback in the Big Sky Conference, could save them Saturday.
Against Eastern Washington it was, primarily, a blocked punt that was recovered in the end zone for a touchdown and an interception that was returned for another score that doomed the Cats.
Both missteps happened during what was a nightmarish fourth quarter for MSU. But that wasn’t everything.
There was also Sean Gords’ personal foul penalty for roughing EWU punter Jake Miller that gave the Eagles a free first down and led to Vernon Adams’ touchdown pass to Quincy Forte in the third quarter.
And then there was Rory Perez’s miss on a 33-yard field goal in the fourth that would have pulled the Cats within seven points and given them a better chance a pulling victory from defeat again.
As for the turnovers — MSU lost the battle of give and take once again -- Ash was incredulous.
“I don’t have an answer,” he said.
Montana State has now given the ball away 18 times in seven games, an average of more than two turnovers per game.
The loss comes on the heels of thrilling wins that could have gone the other way. Almost defiantly, the Bobcats pulled out games in previous weeks against Drake, Stephen F. Austin, Southern Utah and UC Davis while facing heavy adversity.
But you can only live on the edge for so long.
The revival of Bobcat football isn’t dead because of one loss. MSU will bounce back. It’s just a matter of how well they respond to this circumstance with a bye week upcoming.
In the gloom of defeat, McGhee talked assuredly about resiliency. So did Caleb Schreibeis.
And so did Ash.
“There’s a lot of guys that are very determined not to feel this way again,” Ash said of his team. “I could just see it in their eyes. We have a lot of good players, and a lot of guys played really well today. It gives me a lot of confidence.
“It’s kind of too bad we have a bye week now, because it’s two weeks to stew about a loss. We’ll probably be a little grumpy in two weeks when we play again, and maybe that’ll be good.
“We do have great battlers and great competitors, and we’ll come back from this.”