Live coverage from Roos Field as No. 6 Eastern Washington hosts No. 4 Montana in a top-ten matchup being featured on ESPN2.
Montana is off to a 3-0 start for the first time since 2013. The last time the Griz started 4-0 was 2009, when they began 14-0, won what’s still their most-recent official Big Sky title and finished as the national runner-up.
Eastern Washington is already 4-0 for the first time since 1997. It’s surprising it’s been that long because the Eagles have won eight of their 10 Big Sky titles and made 11 of their 14 playoff trips since 1998. A win this week to move to 5-0 would equal their best start, coming in 1985.
Montana wins the coin toss and defers to the second half. Eastern Washington will receive the opening kickoff.
Some changes to Montana's starting defensive lineup. Safety Garrett Graves in place of Gavin Robertson for second straight game. Cornerback Justin Ford in place of Corbin Walker. Defensive end DeAri Todd in place of Joe Babros.
Eastern Washington QB Eric Barriere hits Talolo Limu-Jones, who briefly juggles the ball, for a 51-yard gain. Longest play given up by UM's defense this season. Two plays later, Barriere connects with Andrew Boston for an 8-yard screen TD.
SCORE: EWU 7, Griz 0, with 12:58 left in 1Q
Montana goes 3-and-out on its first possession. Punter Brian Buschini flips the field with a 51-yard punt that puts Eastern at its own 20-yard line. The Eagles went 85 yards on 8 plays during their first drive. UM trails 7-0 3:09 into the game after 1 possession apiece.
Montana LB Jace Lewis gets through untouched and sacks Eric Barriere for a loss of 17 yards. That's cancelled out as Barriere completes a 23-yard pass on 3rd-and-20 up to the 50-yard line. Montana forces three consecutive incomplete passes after Barriere started 7-of 9-passing for 126 yards. EWU punts from the UM 37-yard line, and the Griz will take over at their own 5-yard line trailing 7-0 with 8:34 left in the first quarter.
Montana goes three-and-out for the second consecutive drive. The Griz have run 6 plays and picked up 6 yards. Cam Humphrey is 1 of 4 for 6 yards and was just nearly picked off. A Brian Buschini punt from the end zone puts EWU at the 50-yard line.
Make it six consecutive incompeltions by EWU QB Eric Barriere, including a costly drop by Talolo Limu-Jones on what looked like it would've been a TD, as the Griz are getting into the backfield. Eastern Washington safety Keshaun King gets ejected for a targeting penalty on his hit on Gabe Sulser on the last punt return.
Montana picks up its first 1st down on its third drive of the game, coming on a 26-yard pass from Cam Humphrey to Sammy Akem with 6:34 left in the first quarter. Montana goes for it on fourth-and-2 at the EWU 26, and Xavier Harris runs for 12 yards. The Griz for it again on fourth-and-1 from the 5-yard line, and EWU is called for a facemask. First-and-goal from the 3-yard line. UM evens the score as Cam Humphrey runs a misdirection play and flips the ball to Xavier Harris, who walks in with ease for a 2-yard TD run. That's a 13-play, 77-yard drive over 6:32 for the Griz.
At 13 plays, that's tied for Montana's longest TD drive this season and second-longest scoring drive. They had a 13-play, 80-yard TD drive against Cal Poly. Also had a 17-play drive end with a field goal.
SCORE: Griz 7, EWU 7, with 0:42 left in the first quarter.
End first quarter: Montana 7, EWU 7
After an EWU punts, on the field, Montana is ruled to have a 17-yard catch by Malik Flowers along the sideline as Cam Humphrey was flushed out of the pocket on third down. Upon review, the catch is confirmed, to a chorus of boos from the EWU fans. One play later, running back Xavier Harris rips off a 44-yard run to the EWU 12-yard line. Montana WR Gabe Sulser is tackled by Calin Criner on a jet sweep and stays down on the field. He walks off on his on after a couple minutes.
Montana WR Sammy Akem gets in one-on-one coverage & easily snags a 4-yard TD catch on 3rd-and-2. 7-play, 77-yard drive that takes 3:51. On both TD scores, UM shifts players from 1 side of formation to other and scores on side where players left. That is Sammy Akem's 3rd TD catch this season, 25th in his career. He's tied for the fifth-most TD receptions in Montana history. Marc Mariani holds the record with 29 from 2006-09.
SCORE: Griz 14, EWU 7, 9:02 left 2Q
EWU gets a 40-yard pass from Eric Barriere to Talolo Limu-Jones but ends up punting after Marcus Welnel gets pressure in the backfield, which forces Barriere to fall. Robby Hauck is out to field the punt for UM after Sulser left on the last drive after taking a hit.
Montana goes three-and-out and punts from its own 14-yard line. Great punt and coverage by the Griz, and they take down Efton Chism for just a 2-yard gain after a 53-yard punt by Brian Buschini. EWU starts at its own 35-yard line.
EWU hits a 19-yard pass to Andrew Boston & a 28-yard pass to Efton Chism on back-to-back plays.
The Eagles get to the UM 11-yard line but settle for a 32-yard FG by Jackson Cleaver after a third-down TFL by Alex Gubner.
SCORE: Griz 14, EWU 10, with 2:33 left in the second quarter
Montana QB Cam Humphrey gets sacked on third down on a delayed blitz in which EWU brought seven total defenders. Griz go three-and-out and punt from their 15-yard line. EWU takes over at at its own 40-yard line after a big hit by Kale Edwards of Coeur d'Alene in coverage.
On third-and-28, Eric Barriere threads a 27-pass to Talolo Limu-Jones. On fourth-and-1 from the EWU 49, Barriere runs and slips past a TFL attempt by Jace Lewis to pick up the first down. Montana putting so much pressure on Eric Barriere, and he tries to throw away a pass on fourth-and-10, and Justin Ford picks it off at the 11-yard line with 1 second left in the half.
End second quarter: Montana 14, EWU 10
Montana's Malik Flowers returns the opening kickoff of the second half with a 38-yarder. Xavier Harris rips off a 28-yard run to the EWU 17-yard line as Moses Mallory pulls from right guard and blocks a player down field. Montana QB Cam Humphrey connects with FB/TE Joey Elwell for a 15-yard TD. Second consecutive game for Elwell with a TD grab. Big first drive by the Griz to open the second half. 6 plays, 62 yards in 2:28.
SCORE: Griz 21, EWU 10, with 12:25 left in the third quarter.
Montana forces a three-and-out to open the second half. Robby Hauck remains in catching punts after Gabe Sulser left in the first half.
With his 15th carry of the day, Montana RB Xavier Harris gets up to 116 rushing yards, a single-game career high for the true freshman. He ran for 111 yards against Portland State in the spring. Montana QB Cam Humphrey gets sacked by Joshua Jerome for a loss of 8 yards on third down despite EWU bringing just four players. Griz punt from from the EWU 46, and Brian Buschini pins the Eagles at the 12-yard line.
Montana called for pass interference on what looked like it might have been targeting on LB Jace Lewis at first, but it wasn't on TV replay as he just got his hands up high by the face. Three plays later, LB Marcus Welnel picks off Eric Barriere at the EWU 36-yard line.
Montana's Kevin Macias attempts a 48-yard field goal but has it blocked by Caleb Davis and recovered by EWU at its own 42-yard line. He's 3 of 6 on FGs this season.
On fourth-and-1 from the UM 49-yard line, Dennis Merritt rus for a 6 yards. Then on a fourth-and-8 from the 41, Barriere his Talolo Limu-Jones for 12 yards.
End third quarter: Montana 21, EWU 10
Eric Barriere connects with Andrew Boston for a 9-yard TD on third-and-6 as Montana brings eight defenders. EWU goes for 2, but the pass is blocked and ruled incomplete.
SCORE: Griz 21, EWU 16 with 14:51 to play.
Montana goes three-and-out right after Eastern Washington scores to pull within 21-16. Humphrey loses 2 yard son a run, a pass to Akem is broken up and Humphrey has a 3rd-down pass batted away. EWU takes over at its own 40-yard line with 13:44 to play after a face mask.
Eric Barriere connects with Talolo Limu-Jones for a 58-yard gain to the UM 2-yard line with LB Jace Lewis in Barriere's face on the pass and him throwing into double coverage. Eastern Washington WR Talolo Limu-Jones, who has 11 catches for a career-high 231 yards, is helped off the field after being tackled on his 58-yard gain. EWU's Micah Smith runs for a 2-yard TD. Barriere's 2-point pass is incomplete, but UM is called for pass interference. On the second 2-point play, Barriere runs to his right and around the end for the conversion.
SCORE: EWU 24, Montana 21, with 13:26 to play.
After 4 plays of 10-plus yards on this drive, Montana QB Cam Humphrey is picked off in the end zone by Demetrius Crosby on a pass to Sammy Akem from the 11-yard line. 11:03 to play.
Eastern Washington's Andrew Boston with a 35-yard catch, and then runs of 9, 17 and 18 yards have the Eagles at the UM 1-yard line. Dennis Merritt with a 1-yard TD run. Huge swing right after it looked like Montana was poised to take back the lead before an INT in the end zone. 5 plays, 80 yards in 1:21 for EWU.
SCORE: EWU 31, Montana 21, with 9:42 to play.
Montana isn't out of this just yet. Malik Flowers with a 99-yard kickoff return TD, the fifth of his career, a school record.
SCORE: EWU 31, Griz 28, with 9:27 to play.
After the kickoff return TD, Montana's defenses rises up to force a three-and-out after EWU had three consecutive TD drives. Montana takes over at its own 31-yard line trailing 31-28 with 7:40 to play.
Montana QB Cam Humphrey gets picked off a second time. An underthrow, just like in the end zone earlier this quarter. Marlon Jones gets him on this one on a pass intended for Sammy Akem at the UM 47-yard line.
On 3rd and 8, Eric Barriere wades through UM's pressure and scrambles for 19 yards to the UM 26-yard line. EWU goes for it on fourth-and-1 from the UM 23 and scrambles for 11 yards. Eastern Washington's Jackson Cleaver drills a 30-yard FG.
SCORE: EWU 34, Montana 28 with 1:21 to play.
Montana QB Cam Humphrey scrambles for 13 yards but takes a huge hit on his left side by 7th-year senior LB Jack Sendelbach and is down on the field. Montana redshirt frehsman QB Kris Brown comes in at QB as Cam Humphrey walks off without putting any pressure on his right ankle. Montana will have a first-and-10 from the EWU 13-yard line with 4 seconds left. Likely just one more play. The Griz trail EWU 34-28.
Frank Gogola covers Griz football and prep sports for the Missoulian. Follow him on Twitter @FrankGogola or email him at email@example.com.