UM MSU football (copy)

Montana State defenders Troy Andersen and Callahan O’Reilly break up a pass intended for a Montana receiver on Saturday at Washington-Grizzly Stadium.

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Troy Andersen added another accolade to his storied Montana State career.

Andersen is the Big Sky defensive player of the year, the conference announced Tuesday. The senior from Dillon is the eighth Bobcat to win the award and the first since defensive end Brad Daly in 2013.

Andersen finished the regular season with 111 tackles (57 solo), 9.5 tackles for loss, two sacks, two interceptions, seven pass breakups and a fumble recovery. He returned one of his interceptions, on Sept. 18 against San Diego, for a touchdown.

He is a finalist for the Buck Buchanan Award, given to the top defensive player in the FCS, and for the William V. Campbell Award, which is also known as the “Academic Heisman.”

Eastern Washington quarterback Eric Barriere earned Big Sky offensive player of the year honors, Northern Arizona QB RJ Martinez received the freshman of the year award and Montana defensive back Justin Ford, a Louisville transfer, was named the newcomer of the year.

Andersen also played linebacker in 2017 as a freshman and in 2019, although he appeared on offense a heavy amount in both seasons.

He rushed for 515 yards and five TDs on 90 carries at running back in 2017, including 64 yards and two TDs on 10 carries in a 31-23 win over rival Montana. He also caught five passes for 46 yards and one score (a 43-yard TD against Idaho State) and had nine tackles and a sack that season. He was named the Big Sky freshman of the year.

Andersen switched to quarterback in 2018 and received first-team all-Big Sky and third-team all-American honors. He set MSU single-season records for rushing touchdowns (21), yards per carry (6.85), 100-yard rushing games (nine), consecutive 100-yard rushing games (six) and points (128). He helped the Bobcats overcome a 22-point deficit and earn a 29-25 win at Montana in that season’s Brawl of the Wild. Andersen finished the season with 1,412 rushing yards (third-most in program history), and he passed for 1,195 yards with three touchdowns, seven interceptions and a 55.3% completion rate. He also had a 32-yard catch.

Andersen primarily played linebacker in 2019 and made the all-American and all-Big Sky first teams despite missing time with a knee injury that required surgery. He tallied 54 tackles (39 solo), 11.5 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks, one INT and five pass breakups. On offense, he rushed for 336 yards and seven TDs on 49 carries and completed both of his passes for five yards.

The all-Big Sky selections were also released Tuesday, and 13 Bobcats were chosen. MSU, Sacramento State and Weber State were tied for the most first-team players with six each.

Andersen highlighted MSU’s first-team honorees. The senior middle linebacker was joined by teammates Chase Benson (defensive tackle), Daniel Hardy (defensive end), Isaiah Ifanse (running back), Lewis Kidd (offensive line) and Lance McCutcheon (wide receiver). Ifanse and Kidd were unanimous selections.

Offensive lineman Taylor Tuiasosopo, defensive back Ty Okada and linebacker Callahan O’Reilly were on the second team. Kicker Blake Glessner and defensive back Tre Webb were on the third team. Defensive back Jeffrey Manning Jr. and defensive end Amandre Williams were honorable mentions.

The No. 7-ranked Bobcats (9-2, 7-1 Big Sky) received the eighth seed and a first-round bye in the FCS playoffs. They will host either No. 12 Missouri State or No. 16 UT Martin at 2 p.m. Dec. 4.

Colton Pool can be reached at cpool@dailychronicle.com or 406-582-2690. Follow him on Twitter @CPoolReporter.

This article originally ran on bozemandailychronicle.com.

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