Story and Photos by Eric Ladd EBS Publisher

BOZEMAN – Under blue skies, crisp mountain air and before a sold out crowd, the Montana State Bobcats held on to win the 117th annual Brawl of the Wild on Nov. 18, 31-23. One of the longest-standing college football rivalries in the country, the Cat-Griz game is always a highlight for Montana football players, students and residents.

The Bobcats had a mixed season with disappointing results and a 5-6 overall record, but their upset of the Griz gave MSU seniors a lasting high note to their college careers, as the Bobcat running attack dominated the football game.

One can simply scan the vibrant tailgating scene before the contest to witness the array of license plates from around the state, and region, to get an understanding of the popularity and impact of this annual game. During the past 10 years, the Grizzlies have a 6-4 advantage over the Bobcats, but MSU has now secured the trophy two years in a row with their first win in Bozeman since 2005.

With more than 50 players hailing from Montana collectively between the two teams, it brings an additional meaning to the rivalry as you watch student players from towns like Dillon, Troy and Bozeman suit up to fulfill a lifelong dream of playing in such a big game. Many proud families crowd the stands cheering for their favorite players hailing from the Treasure State.

The MSU campus is actively expanding, with new buildings under construction and expansion of the sports facilities planned. Tickets for this pivotal game were being resold for nearly $150, and tailgate parties overflowed in to the surrounding streets, putting Montana on the big stage for college football this November.

In the final seconds, the Bobcat defense won the game for MSU with incredible plays in the secondary and pressure on Grizzly quarterback Gresch Jensen. The MSU offensive was carried by its running game throughout the contest, with 57 carries and 322 yards. While the Bobcats aren’t playoff bound, the offseason will be a sweeter one with this victory in a storied rivalry.