#10 Grizzlies' comeback bid falls short in 42-37 loss to #3 Eagles

Ellis Henderson scores his third touchdown of the game

Ellis Henderson scores his third touchdown of the game

Oct. 26, 2013

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The #10-University of Montana Grizzlies had hopes of another miracle comeback, but they fell just short in a 42-37 Big Sky Conference loss to the #3-Eastern Washington Eagles Saturday afternoon in front of 26,082 fans in Washington-Grizzly Stadium.

The Eagles stayed unbeaten in league at 4-0 and are 6-2 overall, while the Griz are now 3-2 and 6-2. EWU stays tied with Montana State (4-0) for first place in the conference, as MSU defeated visiting UC Davis 34-17 today.

Last week the Grizzlies blocked a game-clinching field goal late in the game, and then put together a game-tying scoring drive in the last two minutes, and then followed that by scoring on their second play in overtime for a dramatic, 21-14 OT victory over the Cal Poly Mustangs.

Montana trailed Eastern 42-17 with 16 seconds left in the third quarter after sophomore quarterback Vernon Adams threw his sixth touchdown pass of the contest, a 9-yarder to Mario Brown.

But, junior quarterback Jordan Johnson and sophomore wide receiver Ellis Henderson, hooked up on back-to-back scoring passes covering 7 and 48 yards, and Montana cut its deficit to 42-31 with 7:36 left to play.

After the Johnson-Henderson scoring pass had cut EWU's lead to 11 points, Griz senior safety Bo Tully picked off Adams on the Eagles' next possession, which gave Montana the ball on the Eagles' 31-yard line. Unfortunately for Montana, though it went three-and-out after Tully's interception and attempted a 39-yard field goal, but Ben' Worst's kick was wide right, and EWU kept its lead (42-31).

Montana scored its third touchdown of the fourth quarter on a 6-yard pass from Johnson to freshman tight end Jordan Harper with 1:44 left in the game, and then Johnson's rush on a two-point conversion attempt ended up just a few inches short, and the Griz trailed 42-37.

After the Johnson-to-Harper touchdown, the Grizzlies' on-side kick was recovered by EWU's talented freshman receiver, Cooper Kupp, and the Griz had no timeouts remaining, and the Eagles ran out the clock to stay unscathed in Big Sky play.

The Eagles scored on six of their first 10 possessions, and their sixth TD was the Adams-to-Brown score, which gave EWU that 25-point (42-17) advantage in the closing seconds of the third quarter.

The Grizzlies stayed close in the first half, and came within four points of the Eagles at 21-17, on a Johnson to Henderson pass which went for a 42-yard touchdown with 3:29 left until halftime.

But, the Eagles squashed the Grizzlies' momentum right before intermission, as Adams engineered a six-play 78-yard scoring drive, hitting Kupp with a 34-yard scoring pass with 18 seconds left until the break, giving EWU a 28-17 lead at halftime.

EWU the scored the only points in the third quarter, a 52-yard TD pass to Ashton Clark and the 9-yarder to Brown to take that commanding 42-17 lead, and which turned out to be the Eagles' final points in the contest.

Johnson was 26-of-44-0 for 349 yards and 4 touchdowns, and also rushed 11 times for 47 yards. He was just shy of his career-high, which was 354 at North Dakota earlier this season. Johnson has 22 touchdown passes so far this season.

Henderson had a career-high 147 yards receiving and tied his career-best with 8 catches. He now has 11 touchdown receptions this season.

Sophomore wide receiver Jamaal Jones had a career-best 7 catches for 77 yards, while Cam Warren had 5 for 66, and Chase Naccarato added 4 for 48.

UM junior halfback Jordan Canada rushed 12 times for 53 yards, and had a 28-yard touchdown run with 14:53 to go in the second quarter which gave the Griz their only lead (which was short-lived) of the game at 10-7.

Senior linebacker Brock Coyle led the Grizzlies with a game-high (tie) 10 tackles, and also had 1.5 TFLs. Junior free safety Matt Hermanson and senior linebacker Jordan Tripp had 8 tackles each. Tully and sophomore cornerback Nate Harris each had picks for Montana.

Adams, a Walter Payton Award candidate, was 27-of-40-2 for 457 yards and 6 touchdowns, while Kupp had 11 receptions for 182 yards and touchdown grabs of 19 and 34 yards. Clark had 6 catches for 80 yards and 2 TDs. Senior LB Ronnie Hamlin led EWU with 10 tackles.

Montana is at Sacramento State (3-1/4-4) next Saturday, Nov. 2, while EWU is at Idaho State (1-4/3-5).

Note: The winning Split the Pot number at Saturday's game was 067795. The winner, from Great Falls, claimed a pot of $11,903.



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