Eagles look to keep winning streak alive against Bobcats - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Eagles look to keep winning streak alive against Bobcats

Photo: EWU Athletics Photo: EWU Athletics

By EWU Athletics

Like they say in the stock market industry, "Past performance does not guarantee future results." And results for the Eagles have been pretty good lately, to say the least.
 
Two of the top teams in the Big Sky Conference in recent years pair off this week when the No. 10/9 Eastern Washington University football team hosts Montana State this Saturday (Oct. 14). Kickoff is 1:05 p.m. Pacific time at sold-out Roos Field on Military & Veterans Appreciation Day.
 
The game will be televised regionally on SWX, and fans can watch the webcast via Pluto TV and watchbigsky.com. Fans can also listen to the game on 700-AM ESPN, 105.3-FM, via the web at tunein.com and via mobile phone app, with pre-game coverage starting one hour prior to kickoff.
 
The Eagles are now 3-0 in the Big Sky Conference standings after a come-from behind 41-38 win at UC Davis, just ahead of Northern Arizona and Weber State at 2-0 each. Winners of their last 11 league games – three shy of the school record -- the Eagles have won 43 of their last 49 Big Sky games since a 0-2 start in 2011. That feat has been bettered only by Montana on a pair of occasions in the 54-year history of the league.
 
The Bobcats are one of many much-improved teams in the Big Sky, sporting a 2-3 record overall and 2-1 Big Sky mark after beating Portland State 30-22 last week. It was the first time in five games MSU did not play a team nationally-ranked in either the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision or the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision. This week, they'll face their fifth ranked opponent in six games this season.
 
Montana State opened the year with a 31-0 loss to nationally-ranked FBS opponent Washington State, then fell 31-27 to fourth-ranked FCS foe South Dakota State when MSU passed for 311. The Bobcats then began league play versus No. 17 North Dakota (win, 49-21) and No. 18 Weber State (loss, 17-25), followed by the victory over PSU. The Bobcats rushed for 403 yards in the win over the Vikings, with sustained winds in excess of 20 miles per hour resulting in the Bobcats throwing just nine times.
 
Quarterback Chris Murray, the Big Sky Conference Freshman of the Year last season, has rushed for a team-leading 543 yards (108.6 per game to lead the league) and three touchdowns, and passed for another 646 and eight scores. The Bobcats are 10th in FCS in rushing, averaging 250.6 yards per game.
 
"The guessing game will continue and I'm sure they'll come up with a master plan to try to knock us off," said Eastern head coach Aaron Best. "We have to just concentrate on continuing to improve ourselves, and take what they give us on Saturday. But it is good to be back home and play them in front our home crowd."
 
The Bobcats are coming off a 4-7 finish in 2016 under then first-year head coach Jeff Choate, including a 2-6 league campaign. However, MSU finished fourth or better in the Big Sky Conference for 14-straight seasons from 2001-14. Despite that, the Eagles have still managed to dominate the series. Eastern has won 12 of the last 14 meetings since 2003, winning six of the last seven both at home and on the road. Eastern is 30-10 overall in the 40-game series dating back to 1948, however, a 2011 victory by the Bobcats is Cheney is one of only four conference losses for EWU at "The Inferno" since the school installed its red Sprinturf surface in 2010.
 
The UC Davis game was the 250th game for Aaron Best associated with the Eastern football program. Now in his 21st year as either a player or a coach, those 250 games have yielded a 163-87 record for 65 percent.
 
With a four-game winning streak, EWU remains 10th in this week's STATS FCS Top-25 rankings. Eastern is rated ninth this week by the coaches. North Dakota State is No. 2 in both polls, behind defending FCS champion James Madison. Eastern has now been ranked by STATS in 77 of its last 78 polls, and in the top 10 in 18 of the last 20. Eastern had its streak of being in the top 10 snapped at 15 after losing at home 40-13 to the Bison on Sept. 9.
 
 
 

EWU-Montana State Game Notes

 
Eastern Has Piled Up Big Numbers in Last Four Meetings With Bobcats
 
The Eastern offense has run roughshod over MSU as of late while winning the last five meetings. In the last four meetings, Eastern has scored 202 points and generated 2,436 yards of total offense for averages of 50.5 points and 609.0 yards per game. The Bobcats haven't prevailed since 2011 when MSU upset the Eagles 36-21 at Roos Field in Cheney. That represents one of only four conference losses the Eagles have suffered at home in the past eight seasons, including 2017.
 
Interestingly, a 35-24 victory in Cheney on Oct. 24, 2009, started a current stretch in which EWU has won 54 of 63 Big Sky Conference games (86 percent). Perhaps karma or not, it also marked the date when EWU retired the No. 71 jersey of NFL standout offensive tackle Michael Roos (Tennessee Titans).
 
 
Gage Gubrud Repeats as Sports Madness National Player of the Week
 
Both in numbers and accolades, it's been quite a roll Gage Gubrud and the Eastern Washington University football offense has been on as of late. But really, not all that unprecedented.
 
The junior All-America quarterback has been selected as the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision Offensive Player of the Week for the second-straight week from College Sports Madness after directing EWU's fourth-quarter rally in a 41-38 win at UC Davis on Saturday evening (Oct. 7).
 
He was also chosen by CSM as its Big Sky Conference Offensive Player of the Week, and earned honorable mention for FCS Performer of the Week for the third time this season by College Performance Awards. He's won the last three Big Sky Offensive Player of the Week honors as selected by the league office, with that award announced Monday.
 
The 2014 graduate of McMinnville (Ore.) High School helped Eastern erase an 11-point fourth-quarter deficit by directing scoring drives of 71, 55 and 75 yards in the final quarter. Finishing with six touchdown passes and 452 yards passing, he passed 6 yards to Nic Sblendorio for a game-winning TD with 1:37 to play, followed by a missed 49-yard field goal by the Aggies that could have knotted the game. It was Eastern's 23rd victory since 2010 when trailing or tied in the fourth quarter, including two this season.
 
He is now 15-4 in 19 games as an Eastern starter, and has played in just 23 career games. During Eastern's current four-game winning streak, Gubrud has 1,847 passing yards (461.8 average per game) while completing 68 percent of his passes. He has thrown for 18 touchdowns and accounted for another four (three rushing, one receiving). Those numbers are almost identical to his best four-game totals of a year ago when he completed 72 percent of his passes for 1,833 yards (458.3 average) and 17 touchdowns in a quartet of victories from Sept. 24 to Oct. 22.
 
In fact, Gubrud now has a school-record nine 400-yard passing performances in his career, two more than Vernon Adams Jr. with seven. He has now had back-to-back-to-back 400-yard performances on three occasions, and Adams, Jordan West and Matt Nichols are the only other quarterbacks in EWU history to have accomplished that feat two times in a row.
 
Gubrud is now first in FCS in total passing yards (2,188), touchdowns (19), points responsible for (146) and points responsible for per game (24.3). He had only one TD pass in his first two games, but has had 18 in the four games since. He is also second in passing yards per game (364.7) and third in total offense per game (378.3). A year ago he led FCS in both passing and total offense (368.6 and 411.0, respectively).
 
In his most recent game at UC Davis, the Aggies finished with a 551-501 advantage in total offense, but Eastern had 205 of its yards in the fourth quarter alone. The Eagles managed only 13 points in the first 41 minutes of the game, having five three-and-outs in that span. Eastern, however, had a five touchdown drives of 73 yards or more, and another of 55. Gubrud completed 33-of-53 passes as he finished with 452 passing yards – his fourth-straight game with at least 399. He completed passes to 10 different receivers, and his six touchdown passes were one away from the school record.
 
One week earlier versus Sacramento State, he was selected as the College Sports Madness FCS Offensive Player of the Week in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision after accounting for 486 yards and six touchdowns in a 52-31 victory over Sacramento State on Sept. 30. Gubrud completed 35-of-50 passes as he finished with 447 passing yards and five touchdowns. He also caught a 43-yard touchdown pass from running back Sam McPherson, and had six rushes for a net loss of four yards. He had a hand in 57 of EWU's 86 offensive plays, resulting in the seventh-most yards in school history with 651.
 
In winning his third-straight Big Sky Conference Offensive Player of the Week honor – the sixth time overall in his career -- he became the first Eagle to win it three consecutive weeks. Gubrud joins the likes of Travis Lulay of Montana State and Doug Nussmeier and John Friesz of Idaho as other players in league history to garner the award three times in a row.
 
 
 
To a Certain Extent, Eagle Offense Has Been Prolific Beyond Compare
 
After starting the season 0-2, Eastern has won its last four games by scores of 56-21 (Fordham), 48-41 (Montana), 52-31 (Sacramento State) and 41-38 (UC Davis). The team's total of 1,890 passing yards in that stretch – 472.5 per game – has never been matched in school history. The Eagles have averaged 49.3 points and have 2,419 total yards (604.8 per game) during the winning streak, which were just short of EWU's four-game stretch a year ago when the Eagles had 203 points (50.8 average) and 2,422 total yards (605.5). The 2016 team had 1,833 passing yards in those four victories. Here is how the 2017 and 2016 teams compare:
 
Year – Opponent – Points – Total Yards – Passing Yards
2017 - Fordham – 56 – 650 – 399
2017 – Montana – 48 – 617 – 549
2017 – Sac State – 52 – 651 – 490
2018 – UC Davis – 41 – 501 -- 452
4-Game Totals – 197 – 2419 – 1890
Averages – 49.3 – 604.8 – 472.5
 
2016 – Northern Ariz. – 50 – 540 – 392
2016 – UC Davis – 63 – 627 – 486
2016 – Northern Colo. – 49 – 659 – 435
2016 – Montana State – 41 – 596 – 520
4-Game Totals – 203 – 2422 – 1833
Averages – 50.8 – 605.5 – 458.3
 
 
Offense Back Near the Top in FCS Statistics, With Gage Gubrud Leading in Several Categories
 
Averaging better than 600 yards of offense in its last four outings, Eastern's offense now ranks in the top seven in passing and total offense. Eastern is second in passing (374.0 per game) and seventh in total offense (487.3), and is also 16th in scoring (36.7). Quarterback Gage Gubrud is now first in FCS in total passing yards (2,188), touchdowns (19), points responsible for (146) and points responsible for per game (24.3), and is second in passing yards per game (364.7). He had only one TD pass in his first two games, but has had 18 in the four games since. He is also third in total offense per game (378.3). A year ago he led FCS in both passing and total offense a year ago 368.6 and 411.0, respectively). Nic Sblendorio is fourth in FCS with an average of 8.0 catches per game (48 total) and 35th in yards (77.8 per game). Nsimba Webster is 15th in receptions (6.7) and 34th in yards (81.3)
 
Eastern's kickoff return unit has long been impressive, and so far this year the Eagles and Dre' Sonte Dorton are leading the way. With two returns of 51 yards and others of 49 and 38 in his last four games, Dorton has averaged 27.8 yards on 14 returns to rank 10th in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision, while the team is ninth at 25.5 per return. In addition, Eastern is 30th in net punting (37.47) and Jordan Dascalo is 30th in average per punt (41.0).
 
Defensively, Eastern is 23rd in sacks at 2.83 per game, with Albert Havili ranking 58th nationally and fourth in the league with an average of 0.7 per game (total of four). Safety Mitch Fettig has averaged 9.7 tackles per game thus far (total of 58) to rank 26th nationally and seventh in the Big Sky.
 
Besides Dorton, Eastern has some other top-notch returners back from a year ago. Last year as a true freshman, Antoine Custer Jr. averaged 26.7 yards on 14 kickoff returns with a touchdown, with long returns of 93, 55 and 35 yards. Teammate Nsimba Webster had a 65-yard return against UC Davis, but broke his clavicle in the process. Webster had a 25.3 average per return, and EWU's 21.7 average as a team ranked fourth in the Big Sky and 25th nationally. Eastern has returned 18 kickoffs for touchdowns in the past 21 seasons and 19 punts for scores in the same time span (1996 through 2016).
 
 
Eagles Have Now Won 23 Games Since 2010 When Trailing or Tied in Fourth Quarter
 
Eastern has now won 23 games since 2010 when trailing or tied in the fourth quarter, including two this season, two in 2016 and 2015, one in 2014, two in 2013, six in 2012, two in 2011 and six during EWU's national championship season in 2010
 
Three of the 23 comebacks have been against Montana, including Eagle victories in 2017 (48-41), 2012 (32-26) and 2010 (36-27). Earlier this year, No. 11 Eastern trailed 24-6 at halftime but scored 42 points in the second half to stun the Grizzlies. In the second half, Eastern scored on touchdowns on five of its six possessions, and had a dominating 259-68 yardage advantage in the third quarter. After knotting the game at 27 and 34, Eastern took the lead for good on a tie-breaking 3-yard TD pass from Gage Gubrud to Nic Sblendorio with 6:53 left. Eastern expanded it to 48-34 on a 10-yard TD run by Antoine Custer Jr. with 2:12 to play. The defense did its part by recording three key stops in the fourth quarter Gubrud broke his own school record with a 549-yard passing performance, finishing with four touchdowns through the air and one on the ground. His 560 yards of offense were also a record, as he eclipsed his own previous records of 520 passing and 551 total yards. The 549 team passing yards were also a school record, breaking the previous mark of 526 set in 2015 versus Northern Iowa.
 
At UC Davis on Oct. 8, No. 10 Eastern rallied from an 11-point deficit in the fourth quarter by scoring 21 points in the period and went on to win a heart-stopping 41-38 victory over the Aggies at Davis, Calif. Gage Gubrud engineered scoring drives of 71, 55 and 75 yards in the final quarter, and finished with six touchdown passes and 452 yards passing. He passed 6 yards to Nic Sblendorio for a game-winning TD with 1:37 to play, followed by a missed 49-yard field goal by the Aggies that could have knotted the game. Gubrud passed for 452 yards and six touchdowns in the win.
 
 
Eagles Have Impressive 43-6 Big Sky Record Since 0-2 Start in 2011
 
Winners of its last 11 league games, the Eagles have won 43 of their last 48 Big Sky games since a 0-2 start in 2011. Eastern has won 33 of its last 37 league games, with the lone losses coming against Montana and Portland State in 2015 and Northern Arizona in both 2015 and 2014. An Oct. 25, 2014, loss at Northern Arizona snapped EWU's school-record 14-game conference winning streak and a home loss against the Lumberjacks on Nov. 7, 2015, ended a streak of eight Big Sky wins in a row. Including non-conference victories (two versus MSU and one against Cal Poly) and a playoff win (Montana), the Eagles have won 37 of their last 41 versus conference foes, and are 47-6 since the 0-2 start in 2011. As a result, head coach Beau Baldwin left Eastern with a 58-14 Big Sky record for a winning percentage of .806 to rank as the fifth-best in league history. His .726 winning percentage overall (85-32) is seventh all-time in the 53-year history of the Big Sky.
 
 
Eastern Now 39-0 Since 2010 When Winning the TO Battle
 
The Eagles had their first turnover advantage of the 2017 season against Sacramento State on Sept. 30, but finishing with no turnovers was the most impressive statistic for the Eagles. The Hornets had entered the game leading FCS with 10 interceptions, and Eastern matched its own total for the year with an interception by senior safety Jake Hoffman. Sac State entered the game fifth in FCS with a +2.0 turnover margin per game, while EWU was -2.0 and ranked 119th out of 123 FCS schools. Prior to that, EWU had lost the turnover battle 3-0 versus Texas Tech, tying North Dakota State 2-2, finishing with a 5-1 deficit against Fordham and losing the battle against Montana 2-1. In its latest game, Eastern had two turnovers and forced none at UC Davis.
 
In the last nine-plus seasons, the Eagles are now 48-1 when they've won the turnover battle, 21-6 when they've been tied and 20-27 when they've lost (total of 89-34). The last time EWU lost when it won the turnover battle came in the 2009 FCS Playoffs at Stephen F. Austin when EWU had two miscues and forced four in the 44-33 loss. Thus, EWU is 39-0 since 2010 when they've won the turnover battle, 18-5 when they've been tied and 18-20 when they've lost. That's a collective record of 75-25 (75 percent), with 20 of those 25 losses (80 percent) coming in games EWU has lost the turnover battle and 52 percent of EWU's wins coming when they've won the turnover battle (76 percent when including ties).
 
After going six games without winning the turnover battle in 2016 (including the first three), Eastern had turnover advantages in six of its last 12 games, including a 7-1 advantage in its two playoff victories. The Eagles had a dominating 5-1 advantage over Richmond, and one game earlier had a 2-0 advantage over Central Arkansas. But EWU lost the turnover battle 2-1 to Youngstown State, as EWU finished the season 6-0 when it won the turnover battle, 2-2 when it lost and 4-0 when it was tied.
 
 
Challenging Schedule Proving to Be Just That
 
Eastern's three non-conference foes in 2017 are so far 9-6, including a pair of victories over the Eagles. North Dakota State leads the way at 5-0, Texas Tech is 4-1 (it's lone setback was a seven-point loss to 15th-ranked Oklahoma State), and Fordham is 1-5. Those three foes combined to win 68 percent of their games overall in 2016 (25-12), 65 percent in league play (15-8) and 67 percent in the postseason (2-1). By contrast, Eastern's non-conference opponents in 2016 were 31-11 overall the year before for 74 percent, 18-7 in league play (72 percent) and 7-1 in the postseason (88 percent). The Eagles emerged from that gauntlet with a 2-1 record.
 
After finishing a perfect 8-0 in league play a year ago, Eastern's eight Big Sky Conference foes this coming season combined for a 40-50 record overall and 30-34 league mark in 2016. Two of the opponents – North Dakota and Weber State – advanced to the FCS Playoffs and were a collective 16-8 on the season and 14-2 in the Big Sky.
 
 
First Starts of Careers Made by Eight Eagles in First Six Games
 
The most recent starting debuts for the Eagles this season were made against UC Davis on Oct. 7 when true freshman Anfernee Gurley made this first start of his career as an extra defensive back and running back Sam McPherson started at running back. In his first series as a starter, McPherson gathered in a 40-yard touchdown pass. Gurley finished with a career-high nine tackles.
 
One game earlier versus Sacramento State on Sept. 30, sophomore Jayson Williams made his first start when EWU began with a four receiver set. He had three catches for 74 yards, including 59-yarder in the first quarter that set-up Eastern's first touchdown of the day in the 52-31 win.
 
Redshirt freshman offensive tackle Brett Thompson saw significant action at Fordham, then the 2016 graduate of Olympia (Wash.) High School made the first start of his career in Eastern's come-from-behind 48-41 victory against Montana. Starting offensive guard Matt Meyer has been injured and out since playing sparingly versus Fordham, and previously Kaleb Levao was lost for the season with a knee injury. The result was three different starting offensive lines in three games (NDSU, Fordham and Montana), with three players starting multiple positions (Tristan Taylor, Chris Schlichting and Jack Hunter).
 
Junior tight end Henderson Belk was listed as a starter against Texas Tech, but EWU began with four wide receivers instead. Belk, though, made his starting debut one game later versus North Dakota State. Against Fordham on Sept. 16, sophomore defensive nose tackle Dylan Ledbetter made the first start of his career as an injury replacement for Jay-Tee Tiuli, who has also now been lost for the season. Ledbetter, whose father, Mark, lettered as a linebacker at Washington State from 1986-89, had a career-high eight tackles and two of EWU's 10 sacks. He entered the game with 34 tackles and 2 1/2 sacks in his previous 16 games as an Eagle. Also, junior wide receiver Zach Eagle made his first start as an Eagle wide receiver against Fordham and caught a pass for 14 yards and had two punt returns.
 
When EWU played at Texas Tech on Sept. 2, a total of 21 of 22 starters hit the field with starting experience under their belts. Six full-time starters returned on each side of the ball, plus all of the team's specialists from a year ago. An additional five starters on offense and four on defense had previously started for the Eagles. The lone starting debut came on defense when sophomore Jack Sendelbach started in place of injured Ketner Kupp on defense.
 
Eight freshman redshirts made their Eastern debuts against Texas Tech on Sept. 2 – Eric Barriere, Talolo Limu-Jones, Calin Criner, Keith Moore, Rudolph Mataia Jr., Brett Thompson, Nicholas Blair and Conner Crist. Three true freshmen made their debuts in an Eastern uniform, including Anfernee Gurley, Johnny Edwards IV and Chris Ojoh. Three other true freshmen were on Eastern's travel squad and did not play -- quarterback Nick Moore, cornerback Ira Branch, and wide receiver Andrew Boston. They remain redshirts, as well as junior defensive end Jim Townsend.
 
In addition, Aaron Best made his head coaching debut versus the Red Raiders. It came versus the same team former head coach Beau Baldwin made his EWU head coaching debut against back on Aug. 30, 2008, in a 49-24 Red Raider victory. Interestingly, Best is a 1996 graduate of Curtis High School in Tacoma, Wash., and Baldwin graduated from the same school six years earlier. Best was making his debut as Baldwin's offensive line coach in that 2008 game.
 
 
 
Career Starts
 
Defense (225 starts by 19 players): Mitch Fettig 28, Andre Lino 27, Nzuzi Webster 25, Victor Gamboa 22, Albert Havili 22, Josh Lewis 16, Keenan Williams 15, Jake Hoffman 11, Jay-Tee Tiuli 11, Cole Karstetter 10, D'londo Tucker 9, Ketner Kupp 8, Kurt Calhoun 7, Jack Sendelbach 3, Jonah Jordan 3, Dylan Ledbetter 3, John Kreifels 2, Conner Baumann 2 (including 1 as a fullback), Anfernee Gurley 1.
 
Offense (157 starts by 16 players): Tristen Taylor 20, Chris Schlichting 20, Gage Gubrud 19, Matt Meyer 16, Spencer Blackburn 17, Nic Sblendorio 15, Antoine Custer Jr. 11, Nsimba Webster 8, Jack Hunter 7, Kaleb Levao 4 (including 1 as defensive lineman), Terence Grady 4, Zach Eagle 4, Stu Stiles 2, Henderson Belk 2, Jayce Gilder 3, Brett Thompson 3, Sam McPherson 1, Jayson Williams 1.
 
 
 
Gubrud Seeks to Maintain Career Records Marks
 
After setting three FCS, seven Big Sky marks and 18 school records in the 2016 season, junior Gage Gubrud now seeks to maintain a pair of career marks. After 23 games in his career (15-4 in 19 games as a starter), he remains the Eastern career leader in passing yards per game (322.3), completion percentage (.661) and total offense per game (353.6). He is already sixth in passing yards (7,414, 78 from the No. 5 position held by Mark Tenneson with 7,492 from 1989-92), fifth in touchdown passes (67, three from No. 4 held by Bo Levi Mitchell with 70 from 2010-11) and fourth in total offense (8,133, 2,809 from No. 3). If he were to play 16 more games in his career (five this year and 11 as a senior), he would have to average 326 passing yards and 324 yards of total offense to break the school and Big Sky records of 12,616 and 13,308, respectively, set by Matt Nichols from 2006-09.
 
Gubrud already owns seven of the top nine single game total offense performances in school history (1-2-3-4-6-7-9) and six of the top 15 passing performances (1-2-4-7-14-15). In addition, he had an impressive string of 222 passes without an interception in 2016, going four full games in 2016 from Sept. 24 to Oct. 22 without a pick. He had what was then a school-record 551 yards of total offense in the first start of his career, a 45-42 season-opening victory over Washington State of the Pac-12 Conference.
 
 
Consecutive Extra Points Record Ends at 85 for Roldan Alcobendas
 
Kicker Roldan Alcobendas missed his first extra point attempt of the game against UC Davis on Oct. 7, ending his school-record string of consecutive career extra points made at 85. In his 24-game career, Alcobendas has made 15-of-22 field goals and 120-of-125 extra points. Thus far this year he has made 25-of-26 extra point attempts and 6-of-9 field goals.
 
Alcobendas is a 2013 graduate of Camas (Wash.) High School, and had to sit out both the 2013 and 2015 seasons because of knee injuries. He finished the 2016 season 9-of-15 kicking field goals and made 73-of-74 extra points. He made his last 63 extra points in a row in 2016 to shatter the previous season record of 47. His 73 total extra points made in 2016 were one behind the Big Sky Conference record of 74 set by former Eagle Kevin Miller in 2013. He also averaged 54.6 yards on 44 kickoffs with seven touchbacks.
 
Returning to the venue he suffered a season-ending knee injury in 2014, Alcobendas made field goals of 48 and 31 yards and had a career-high 11 total points in EWU's 41-17 victory over Montana State in 2016 to earn Big Sky Conference Special Teams Player of the Week honors. His 48-yarder was the best of his career, and equals the 23rd-longest in school history. He also had a 31-yarder blocked and made all five of his extra point attempts to account for 11 of EWU's points. In addition, he averaged 64.0 yards in three kickoffs, including one touchback.
 
 
Career Average for Dascalo is Fifth Among the Top Punters in School History
 
With a 41.0 average on 27 punts thus far in 2017 to rank 30th in FCS, Jordan Dascalo has now punted 105 times as an Eagle for a 40.8 career average to rank fifth in school history. Against UC Davis on Oct. 7, he averaged 42.5 yards per punt with a long of 56 and one downed inside the 20-yard line. The average field position for the Aggies after his punts was its own 29-yard line.
 
He averaged 46.8 yards on six punts in EWU's season-opener against Texas Tech with a long of 58. A pair of his punts were downed inside the 20, and the average starting position for TTU after his six punts was its own 23. Dascalo also kicked off three times, with all three resulting in touchbacks. He had a 62-yard punt at Fordham on Sept. 16, equaling the second-longest of his career (he had a 67-yarder in 2015 versus Montana), and ranking as the 19th-longest in school history. He had a 45.0 average on four punts in that game, with two of them downed inside the 20.
 
In his career, Dascalo has now had 34 punts downed inside the 20. He has had 10 punts in his career of at least 56 yards, including a career-long of 67 to rank sixth in school history. He is also 4-of-7 in his EWU career kicking field goals, and has averaged 59.9 yards (6,644 total yards) in 111 career kickoffs with 45 touchbacks.
 
Dascalo, who punted as a freshman in 2014 for Washington State, earned Big Sky Conference Special Teams Player of the Week honors for his performance against his former team on Sept. 3, 2016. He averaged 55.3 yards on three punts, including one downed inside the Cougar 20-yard line. He also kicked a 48-yard field goal on the final play of the first half that started a decisive 17-0 scoring run by the Eagles in the 45-42 win. He also had seven kickoffs for a 57.0 average against WSU with one touchback. His 48-yarder equaled the 23rd-longest in school history and was the best in nearly seven years by an Eagle since Mike Jarrett booted a 49-yarder versus Idaho State on 10/3/09.
 
 
Looking Ahead for Eagles
 
Eastern hosts rival Montana State (4-7 last year/2-6 Big Sky) on Oct. 14, then heads back on the road for an Oct. 21 game at Southern Utah (6-5/5-3). The SUU game is the first of three-straight games against teams with winning records overall and in league play in 2016. After a bye week on Oct. 28, Eastern hosts Weber State (7-5/6-2) for Homecoming on Nov. 4 and plays at fellow defending Big Sky champion North Dakota (9-3/8-0) on Nov. 11. The regular season closes with Senior Day at Roos Field on Nov. 18 versus Portland State, with the FCS Playoffs beginning the following weekend on Nov. 25.
 
 
 
 

More Aaron Best Comments

 
On Montana State Offense: "They hand the ball off to a lot of different folks, so it's sort of running back by committee and they keep themselves fresh. Murray burst on the scene last year as a freshman and he's dynamite. The challenging thing about Montana State is that they can beat you two different ways – one game this season they passed for 300 yards and then three games later they rushed for 400. They believe in running and throwing the ball, and they can be a headache and handful for our defense. We have our work cut out for us."
 
On Montana State Defense: "I have a lot of respect for Ty Gregorak, their defensive coordinator. They'll keep our offense guessing with multiple sets and playing a lot of different guys on defense. They have players all over the place with experience, and they maximize opportunities with those players."
 
On Gage Gubrud's Passing Production: "We obviously are taking what the defense gives us, but I love the consistent play. The first two games we were a bit inconsistent, but he's come into his own since then. We're not in this for stats, we're in this for wins – Gage is the first to admit that. He doesn't care if it's six handoffs or six throws, he's all about team victories and we'll see how that goes. But we'll continue to lean on our star, and he is star – a well-known one. Because he's a known commodity, it's a testament to Gage and our coaching staff that he continues to thrive in those situations. I'm proud of them and all the players making plays around Gage."
 
On Fun of Comeback Win Over UC Davis: "I don't know if fun is the right word. I'll tell you what, I'm 39 going on 69. But if I'm going to do it I'm going to do it with this bunch. We did it in 2010 over and over and over, and I'm ready and willing to do it again. This is a fun bunch and the coaches are phenomenal. There is just no quit, and a lot of belief in each other."
 
On Rally: "We are a team that responds and we handle adversity really well. UC Davis played a heckuva game and they are a heckuva team. Doss and Maier are a deadly combination – they mix is up really well. We just happened to make one more play than they did."
 
On Guts of Team: "At the end of the day (we won with) guts. There were a lot of legitimate guts we played with today. We played a few men down during the game, but nobody batted an eye. That's who we are and that's who we will continue to be. We'll be a resilient bunch, and we respond well on the road where it's hard. It's hard no matter who you play, but especially a formidable opponent like UC Davis. Our hat is off to Coach Hawkins because they have a lot of good things ahead in their future."
 
On Momentum-Changing 71-yarder to Webster: "That kind of ignited things after we were stagnate in the first half. Davis had more energy in the first half than we did, and we weren't executing very well. We just kind of fizzled. We re-charged our batteries at halftime, and then in the fourth quarter we got a quick-strike to Nsimba. We saw a lot of guts in that fourth quarter – I love walking into our lockerroom and looking into our team's eyes. I know they'll never quit on us or each other – no matter what the score is it doesn't matter. They are a resilient bunch."
 
On Improving Each Week: "It's like anything, we want to peak at the right time, and the right time is the latter part of the season. At Fordham we were able to find out what winning was like for this team in 2017. Our team has done a great job through five games on really focusing and believing in the task at hand, and believing in themselves."
 
On Winning Turnover Battle: "It's big. When we win the turnover battle we win games here at Eastern. That's the way it's been."
 
 

 
More Team Notes

 
Eagles Celebrate 50th Anniversary of Games at Roos/Woodward Field With 50th Game on the Red Turf
 
The North Dakota State game on Sept. 9 was the 50th at Roos Field since the red turf surface was installed in 2010. After beating Sacramento State on Sept. 30, Eastern is now 42-9 overall, and have lost just five regular season games at "The Inferno" – 32-5 (86.5 percent), plus are 10-4 in playoff games. The only regular season losses at home for EWU since then are to conference foes Montana State (2011), Portland State (2011 and 2015) and Northern Arizona (2015), as well as North Dakota State (2017).
 
This is the seventh season the stadium has been known as "Roos Field," as a new red synthetic Sprinturf surface made its debut in 2010. Eastern finished a perfect 8-0 in its debut season at "The Inferno," including three playoff victories. Eastern is 42-9 overall (82 percent) since the red turf was installed in 2010 – including a 4-0 record versus rival Montana. Eastern has a 154-63 record (71.0 percent) in 217 games at Roos Field (formerly Woodward Field) since 1967, with the Eagles utilizing Joe Albi Stadium in Spokane as the school's main home field from 1983-89.
 
In 2016, Eastern finished 7-1 in the 50th season of football at EWU's current stadium location, which opened in 1967 and is celebrating its 50th anniversary in the 2017 season. A crowd of 10,917 were on hand for EWU's most recent home game versus Sacramento State, the seventh-most in school history and giving EWU 22-straight regular season sellouts (crowd of 8,600 or more) and 34 overall.
 
Eastern's 2016 average attendance was 8,435 (67,477 in eight home games), ranking behind the school record of 9,577 set in five home games in 2015. The Montana game on Oct. 29 had a crowd of 10,931 to rank as the fifth-most in school history, with the top three coming versus the Griz (11,702 in 2010, 11,583 in 2006 and 11,339 in 2014).
 
 
Eastern is 25-13 (66 percent) Since 2010 Versus Ranked Opponents
 
The Eagles have now played 121 games against ranked teams in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision since becoming a member of that classification in 1983 (then known as I-AA). Eastern is 54-67 (.446 in those games, including a 17-42 mark (.288) versus top 10 foes. Since 2010, though, the Eagles are 25-13 overall (.658) and 8-7 (.533 versus top 10 teams. So far this season, Eastern is 0-1 with a 40-13 loss to second-ranked North Dakota State (the Eagles were ranked seventh).
 
Eastern was 6-2 against ranked teams in 2016, having lost to top-ranked North Dakota State by a 50-44 score in overtime and then falling 40-38 to 13th-ranked Youngstown State in the semifinals of the FCS Playoffs. Eastern defeated Northern Iowa, ranked 10th at the time, by a 34-30 score on Sept. 17, beat No. 25 Northern Arizona 50-35 on Sept. 24, defeated No. 16 Montana 35-16 on Oct. 29, knocked off No. 14 Cal Poly 42-21 on Nov. 5, then beat No. 14 Central Arkansas 31-14 on Dec. 3 and was victorious over No. 12 Richmond 38-0 on Dec. 10. Overall, EWU has faced the No. 1 team in FCS nine times, winning twice (35-31 in 2004 over Southern Illinois in the FCS Playoffs and 30-21 in 2002 over Montana at Albi Stadium in Spokane, Wash.
 
 
 

More Player Notes

 
Jay-Tee Tiuli Lost for Season and Will Redshirt
 
Eastern head coach Aaron Best has announced that starting nose tackle and 2016 first team All-Big Sky Conference performer Jay-Tee Tiuli underwent surgery in late September and will miss the remainder of the 2017 season. However, he has not redshirted, so he will be able to return for his senior season in 2018 as an injury redshirt. Tiuli has played in 36 career games (11 as a starter), and has had 77 total tackles with 8 1/2 sacks, three quarterback hurries and two passes deflected. He earned third team preseason All-America honors from stats, and first team all-league accolades from College Sports Madness. Previously, Best announced that starting offensive tackle Kaleb Levao was lost for the remainder of the season as well. Actual injuries suffered by players are not disclosed.
 
 
Gubrud Heads List of Players Honored With Preseason Accolades
 
There are at least 5,160 reasons Eastern Washington University's Gage Gubrud is now among the favorites to win the Walter Payton Award presented by STATS to the top offensive player in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision.
 
The junior quarterback burst on the FCS scene a year ago in his first season as a starter by passing for a FCS record 5,160 yards, to go along with 48 touchdown passes and more than 5,700 yards of total offense. On Aug. 2, STATS named him among the players on the Watch List to win the award after finishing third in the voting a year ago. He was later named to the watch list for FCS Performer of the Year as selected by College Football Performance Awards.
 
Gubrud was joined on the STATS Watch List by Chase Edmonds from Fordham, which hosts EWU in The Bronx, N.Y., on Sept. 16. Edmonds was first in the nation in rushing yards per game (163.5), and second in all-purpose yards per game (194.6) and points per game (10.9). He finished fourth in the voting for last year's Payton Award, right behind Gubrud.
 
In addition to the Watch List, Gubrud was selected to the STATS preseason All-America second team and was picked defend his title as the league's Offensive MVP. He was last year's NCAA Football Championship Subdivision Player of the Year by the Touchdown Club of Columbus.
 
Defensive tackle Jay-Tee Tiuli earned third team preseason All-America honors from STATS, while Gubrud, defensive end Albert Havili and safety Mitch Fettig earned preseason All-Big Sky Conference honors. In addition, Gubrud was selected by College Sports Madness to win the Big Sky Conference Offensive Player of the Year award and was joined on CSM's preseason All-BSC squad by eight other Eagles. Defensive nose tackle Jay-Tee Tiuli joined Gubrud on the first team, with wide receiver Nic Sblendorio, safety Mitch Fettig, cornerback Nzuzi Webster and defensive end Albert Havili picked for the second team, and center Spencer Blackburn and linebacker Ketner Kupp chosen to the third team.
 
 
Gubrud Among Two All-Americans and Six All-BSC Players Back
 
Quarterback Gage Gubrud was honored on six All-America teams in 2016, including as a first team selection by Hero Sports. Gubrud was a second team selection by STATS, the American Football Coaches Association, Associated Press and College Sports Madness. Hero Sports also selected him to its Sophomore All-America squad. Four seniors also received All-America accolades, and a sixth, center Spencer Blackburn, who was picked for the Hero Sports Sophomore All-America squad. 
 
Gubrud and Cooper Kupp were honored on Nov. 22 as the Big Sky Conference co-Offensive MVPs, the first time in league history two players from the same team were selected by the coaches to share the award. Both were unanimous selections as first team selections in the league, with Kupp also becoming just the fourth player in league history to earn first team all-league all four seasons.
 
A total of 13 Eagles overall were honored, including a league-high seven first team selections. Returning for 2017 are first team defensive tackle Jay-Tee Tiuli, second team center Spencer Blackburn, third team cornerback Nzuzi Webster and honorable mention performers Mitch Fettig (safety) and Tristen Taylor (offensive tackle).
 
Blackburn took over as Eastern's starting center in the fourth game of the season for injured senior Jerrod Jones, and earned second team All-Big Sky Conference honors. After Blackburn's insertion into the starting lineup beginning with the Northern Arizona game on Sept. 24, Eastern's five starters on the offensive line for the rest of the year consisted of two redshirt freshmen and a trio of sophomores.
 
Eastern players have now been selected as the Big Sky Conference Offensive MVP in 12 of the last 16 seasons, including six of the last seven.
 
 
Gubrud Breaks Three FCS, Seven Big Sky and 18 EWU Records
 
Sophomore quarterback Gage Gubrud – the Big Sky's co-Offensive MVP along with teammate Cooper Kupp -- put up some remarkable numbers in his first season as EWU's starter, breaking three FCS records, seven Big Sky marks and 18 school records.
 
Gubrud is a 2014 graduate of McMinnville (Ore.) High School and passed for an FCS record 5,160 yards in the 2016 season, breaking the record of 5,076 by Taylor Heinicke of Old Dominion in 2012. His 11 games with at least 300 yards passing and 12 with at least 300 yards of total offense are also FCS records. Gubrud's total of 5,766 yards of total offense were just 33 from the total offense mark of 5,799 set by Steve McNair of Alcorn in 1994. Gubrud broke EWU and Big Sky Conference single season records previous set by Vernon Adams Jr. in 2013 with 4,994 passing yards and 5,559 yards of offense.
 
Gubrud's average of 411.9 yards of offense per game was also a league and school record, and ranks fifth in FCS history. He broke the previous Big Sky record set 25 years prior by Jamie Martin of Weber State with a 394.3 average in 1991. Gubrud's final tally of 368.6 passing yards per game was an EWU school record, breaking the record of 364.5 set by Bo Levi Mitchell in 2011. They were also the second-most in Big Sky history (behind the record of 379.6 set by Dave Dickenson of Montana in 1995) and ranked ninth all-time in FCS.
 
Gubrud also set Big Sky and school records for total offensive plays (704), passing completions (386) and attempts (570), and a school record for rushing yards by a quarterback with 606 (the old record was 605 by Vernon Adams Jr. in 2013). The six single game EWU records he holds are for passing yards (520 vs. Montana State), total offense (551 vs. Washington State), touchdowns responsible for (7 vs. UC Davis), points responsible for (42 vs. UC Davis), fewest interceptions per pass attempt (0 in 64 attempts versus Central Arkansas) and completions (47 vs. Central Arkansas), which was also a league record.
 
 
 

Recent Game Recap

 
#10 Eastern Washington 41, UC Davis 38
 
Eastern rallied from an 11-point deficit in the fourth quarter by scoring 21 points in the period and went on to spoil the upset hopes of UC Davis with a heart-stopping 41-38 victory over the Aggies Saturday Oct. 7 at Davis, Calif. It was the third Big Sky Conference win in three tries for the Eagles and their 11th-straight dating back to the 2016 season. Junior quarterback Gage Gubrud engineered scoring drives of 71, 55 and 75 yards in the final quarter, and finished with six touchdown passes and 452 yards passing. He passed 6 yards to Nic Sblendorio for a game-winning TD with 1:37 to play, followed by a missed 49-yard field goal by the Aggies that could have knotted the game. It was Eastern's 23rd victory since 2010 when trailing or tied in the fourth quarter. The Aggies finished with a 551-501 advantage in total offense, but Eastern had 205 in the fourth quarter alone. The Eagles managed only 13 points in the first 41 minutes of the game, having five three-and-outs in that span. Eastern, however, had a five touchdown drives of 73 yards or more, and another of 55. Gubrud completed 33-of-53 passes as he finished with 452 passing yards – his fourth-straight game with at least 399. He completed passes to 10 different receivers, and his six touchdown passes were one away from the school record. It was the 15th 300-yard performance of Gubrud's 23-game Eastern career and his ninth of at least 400.  Junior wide receiver Nsimba Webster caught six passes for 102 yards and a touchdown, recording his third 100-yard receiving performance of his career. Redshirt freshman tight end Talolo Limu-Jones had three catches for 66 yards and scored a pair of touchdowns, and senior wide receiver Nic Sblendorio finished with seven catches, 82 yards and a score. Six Eagles had nine or more tackles, led by junior defensive end Keenan Williams with a career-high 12 tackles. Junior cornerback Josh Lewis had a career-high 11 tackles, as did junior linebacker Ketner Kupp. Junior linebacker Kurt Calhoun and junior safety Mitch Fettig each had nine. Two Eagles made starting debuts against UC Davis -- true freshman Anfernee Gurley at rover and running back Sam McPherson at running back. In his first series as a starter, McPherson gathered in a 40-yard touchdown pass. Gurley finished with nine tackles. The Eagles fell behind 31-20 with 11:38 to play, but Eastern scored two touchdowns within a 1:57 span to take a 34-31 advantage with 9:23 to play. The first score was a 71-yard TD pass from Gubrud to Webster. After a rare three-and-out by the Aggies, Eastern struck again on a four-play, 55-yard drive. Gubrud hit Limu-Jones for a 46-yard gain, then they hooked up for a 6-yard TD. Webster capped the scoring spurt with a two-point conversion pass from Gubrud. After UC Davis regained the lead, EWU went on a game-winning 12-play, 75-yard drive, capped by a 6-yard TD pass from Gubrud to Sblendorio
 
 
 

Series History

 
* The Eagles have won 12 of the last 14 meetings against the Bobcats, and are 30-10 overall in the 40-game series dating back to 1948. Eastern has won six of the last seven meetings at home (including a 2003 win in Spokane) as well as six of the last seven in Bozeman. Overall, Eastern is 16-6 in Bozeman, 13-4 in home games and 1-0 on neutral fields.
 
* Eastern has won the last five meetings, having not lost to the Bobcats since 2011 when MSU prevailed 36-21 at Roos Field in Cheney. That is one of only four conference losses for EWU at "The Inferno" since the school installed its red Sprinturf surface in 2010. In the last four meetings, Eastern has scored 202 points and generated 2,436 yards of total offense for averages of 50.5 points and 609.0 yards per game.
 
* The meeting in 2016 was the first time in seven seasons the Eagles and Bobcats did not enter their meeting both ranked nationally. The last time prior to that when both teams did not enter the game ranked, neither squad was. Interestingly, that 35-24 victory in Cheney on Oct. 24, 2009, started a current stretch in which EWU has won 54 of 63 Big Sky Conference games (86 percent). It also marked the date when EWU retired the No. 71 jersey of NFL standout offensive tackle Michael Roos (Tennessee Titans). Here are the rankings and results of the last six matchups between nationally-ranked squads:
2015 (Cheney) - #14 EWU 55, #11 MSU 50
2014 (Bozeman) - #2 EWU 52, #14 MSU 51
2013 (Cheney) - #3 EWU 54, #4 MSU 29
2012 (Bozeman) - #6 EWU 27, #2 MSU 24
2011 (Cheney) - #4 MSU 36, #21 EWU 21
2010 (Bozeman) - #17 MSU 30, #9 EWU 7
 
 
Looking Back

2016 (Bozeman): #3 Eastern Washington 41, Montana State 17 . . . Montana State scored 17 points on its first three possessions of the game to take an early lead, but the third-ranked Eagles scored 27 unanswered to hold off MSU 41-17 on Oct. 22, 2016, at Bobcat Stadium in Bozeman, Mont. Coming off a bye week, Eastern finished with 596 yards of offense as Gage Gubrud passed for a what was then a school-record 520 yards and four touchdowns. He rushed for another 18, giving him 538 yards of total offense to rank second at the time behind the school-record 551 he had to open the season against Washington State. Cooper Kupp caught 13 passes for 154 yards and a touchdown to equal the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision record for consecutive games with a catch, and also broke the school record for career all-purpose yards. Eastern's defense surrendered 17 points in the first 16:03 of the game, but MSU didn't score again in the final 43:57. The Eagles forced five turnovers and had none themselves. Eastern held MSU to 349 yards, and had a 421-152 advantage after the first quarter. Eastern had a fumble forced by senior Samson Ebukam and fumble recoveries by senior J.J. Njoku and junior D'londo Tucker. The Eagles also had an interception by senior safety Zach Bruce – his third of the season and fifth of his career, and picks in the fourth quarter by Victor Gamboa and Jake Hoffman. A 9-yard touchdown run by Antoine Custer Jr. following a MSU turnover gave EWU a 21-17 advantage and started a 27-0 scoring run, including a 48-yard field goal Roldan Alcobendas that gave the Eagles a 24-17 lead at halftime. Eastern added a 1-yard touchdown reception by Jayce Gilder in the third quarter on a 65-yard drive to take a 31-17 advantage into the final period.
 
2015 (Cheney): #14 Eastern Washington 55, #11 Montana State 50 . . . Quarterback Jordan West was 21-of-24 (88 percent) for 410 yards and six touchdown passes, for a school-record passing efficiency rating of 313.5 in EWU's 55-50 win. Cooper Kupp caught 12 passes for 201 yards and TD grabs of 5, 38 and 34 yards. Nic Sblendorio added three catches for 120 yards, including a 78-yard TD. Kendrick Bourne and Zach Wimberly were the only other Eagles to catch passes and both caught a touchdown pass from West. Jabari Wilson rushed for 188 yards and two touchdowns before leaving the game in the fourth quarter after a hard hit. The Eagles averaged 11.7 yards per play, even flirting for a short time with the school and Big Sky record of 12.3 yards per play set in the 2013 meeting against the Bobcats, won by the Eagles 54-29. In the 2015 meeting with MSU, Eastern had 667 yards on just 57 plays (11.7 yards per play), compared to 718 yards and 104 plays (6.9 per play) for the Bobcats. Facing a third-and-10 at the MSU 41-yard-line with 2:30 to play, Jordan West found Cooper Kupp for a 30-yard gain to help Eastern drain the clock. After Eastern missed a field goal – its first red zone miss of the season and first field goal miss the EWU career for Tyler McNannay – MSU had just 33 seconds to work with, and Nzuzi Webster clinched the Eagle win with his first career interception and the first interception of the season by the Eagles.
 
* In a 2014 non-conference game in Bozeman, the end result was a heart-stopping 52-51 victory by the second-ranked Eagles against the No. 14 Bobcats on Sept. 20 at Bobcat Stadium in Bozeman, Mont. Eastern quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. led Eastern to a 75-yard drive in the final two minutes, then scored on a two-point conversion to provide the game-winning points. Eagle senior running back Quincy Forte rushed for 190 yards and four touchdowns, as the Eagles finished with 582 yards of total offense. Montana State had 547 yards, but the Eagle defense did its part by holding MSU to 0-of-3 on fourth down and forcing a pair of turnovers.
* In 2013 in Cheney, third-ranked Eastern finished with 591 yards of total offense and scored on all eight of its possessions in the 54-29 romp past No. 4 Montana State. The Eagles broke a Big Sky record by averaging 12.3 yards per play (591 yards, 48 plays), eclipsing the old record of 11.1 by more than a yard. Quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. had 300 yards passing (four touchdowns) and 76 yards on the ground (1 TD) for the Eagles, and Quincy Forte rushed for 123 yards and two touchdowns. Mario Brown rushed twice for 47 yards, including a 40-yard run on EWU first offensive play. Shaq Hill had a career-best 172 receiving yards on four catches, and scored on TD plays of 76, 68 and 17 yards. Cooper Kupp finished with eight catches for 110 yards. T.J. Lee III had 14 tackles and an interception for the defense, and linebacker Cody McCarthy added 12 tackles.
* In the 2012 meeting in Bozeman, the Eagles scored only one offensive touchdown and kicked two field goals in a 27-24 victory over the second-ranked Bobcats. Eastern, ranked sixth at the time, scored on a blocked punt by Dylan Zylstra that was recovered for a touchdown by Evan Day, and then Jordan Tonani returned an interception 21 yards for a touchdown to rally EWU from a 17-13 deficit entering the fourth quarter. That victory, coupled with losses by three teams ahead of the Eagles, catapulted the Eagles to a No. 1 ranking in The Sports Network FCS poll.
* In the 2011 meeting, fourth-ranked Montana State out-gained No. 21 Eastern Washington University 129-56 in the fourth quarter and defeated the Eagles 36-21 at sold-out Roos Field in Cheney, Wash. Eastern was behind by just five points early in the fourth quarter, but the Bobcats put together a pair of time-consuming drives to spoil Eastern's comeback hopes. Jordan Talley rushed for 108 yards and two touchdowns versus the Bobcats in the first start of his Eastern career. Eastern was just 3-of-10 on third downs while the Bobcats were 11-of-18.
* In the 2010 meeting, Montana State redshirt freshman quarterback Denarius McGhee passed for 283 yards and the No. 17 Bobcats used big plays to hand the ninth-ranked Eagles a 30-7 loss Sept. 25, 2010, at Bobcat Stadium in Bozeman, Mont. Montana State had a 439-382 advantage in total offense, but also scored touchdowns on an interception return and a fake field goal. The Eagles would go on to win the NCAA Division I title that season.

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