BOZEMAN, Mont. - Montana State keeps taking a licking, yet the Bobcats manage to keep on ticking - and keep their playoff hopes alive.
Senior tailback Demetrius Crawford rushed for a career-high 187 yards and two touchdowns, and converted wide receiver Mark Desin passed for a touchdown and ran for another Saturday as the injury-battered Bobcats trounced Portland State 49-32 in Big Sky Conference football.
Crawford scored on runs of 17 and 44 yards as MSU (7-4, 5-2) won its fourth straight. He became the first Bobcat to rush for 1,000 yards in a season since Ryan Johnson in 2001.
"Demetrius Crawford is a special football player," MSU coach Rob Ash said. "I've coached a long time and I don't think I've ever coached a player who is as consistently dynamic. He is a sensational athlete."
Crawford's 44-yard run with 10:47 to go in the third quarter gave MSU a 28-17 lead after the Vikings (3-7, 2-5) had tightened the game on a bizarre Hail Mary to close the first half. PSU quarterback Drew Hubel's 44-yard pass into the end zone was intercepted by MSU cornerback Ramon Lewis, but as Lewis tried to run out of the end zone he fumbled and Viking wide receiver Daniel Wolverton recovered the ball for a touchdown.
Crawford, whose family came from Fairfield, Calif., to watch his final home game, has rushed for more than 100 yards in four consecutive games and has 1,111 yards for the season. MSU ran for 401 yards overall.
"I need to have my O-line in here talking," Crawford said during a post-game press conference. "They made it so easy for me today. Every time I touched it I wanted to take it to the house, and that's what I tried to do."
Said PSU coach Jerry Glanville, "We knew he was a good back. For some reason, he didn't run on us like that last year."
Desin, moved to quarterback to replace the injured Cody Kempt and Mark Iddins, threw two interceptions in the first quarter. The sophomore from Billings, who amassed more than 9,000 yards passing in high school, was 8-of-15 passing for 120 yards and a touchdown in his collegiate debut as a quarterback.
Desin threw a 5-yard scoring pass to tight end Kyle Begger to give the Bobcats a 21-10 lead with 55 seconds remaining in the first half. He ran in from 5 yards out with 7:29 to play in the third quarter to give MSU a 35-17 lead.
"It was exciting," Desin said. "It was definitely what you'd picture your college experience to be as a football player."
The Bobcats, who were already missing five starters for the season due to injuries, lost senior linebacker Bobby Daly, their leading tackler, to a hip injury on Saturday. Defensive linemen Chris Kolone and Dan Ogden also were hurt. Nevertheless, they held the nation's leading passing team to 231 yards through the air and 247 overall. PSU was averaging 391.1 passing yards per game.
The Vikings scored their first touchdown on a 93-yard kickoff return by Aaron Woods with 2:10 remaining in the first quarter. Woods also caught an 8-yard scoring strike from quarterback Drew Hubel with 8:47 to play.
Despite the injuries, MSU amassed 489 total yards and enters next weekend's season-ending showdown at Montana with a chance to make the playoffs.
"What we've done here despite some devastating injuries...I've never seen anything like it, but we're still finding ways," Ash said. "It's very rewarding."