Cheney, Wash. – A record-setting performance from junior quarterback Jordan West propelled the Eastern Washington University football team to a 55-50 victory over visiting Montana State in its home opener Saturday, Sept. 19.
EWU improves to 1-2 after earning its first win of the season while Montana State drops to 1-1 with the loss.
After racing out to a 28-7 lead early in the second quarter, Eastern kept its foot on the gas pedal as the Bobcats got no closer than 10 points heading into the fourth quarter. West would give the Eagles a 17-point cushion at the 12:47 mark of the final frame, finding junior Cooper Kupp from 34 yards out for his sixth touchdown pass of the day.
MSU responded with a 12-play, 86-yard drive to pull to within 11, 55-44, before finding pay dirt again with 4:13 remaining, cutting EWU's lead to just five points. Eastern drove down the field on its next possession but saw a field goal attempt from senior Tyler McNanny go just wide of the upright, giving the visitors the ball with 33 ticks left.
Montana State quarterback Dakota Prukop scrambled for nine yards on the Bobcats' first play of the drive only to throw an interception on MSU's next snap as freshman Nzuzi Webster snagged his first career pick and secured the win for the Eagles.
West completed 21 of his 24 pass attempts on the day, throwing for 410 yards and six touchdowns. His 313.5 efficiency rating set a new school record, topping the previous mark of 310.4 set by Mark Tenneson back on Sept. 19, 1992.
Kupp continued his strong start to the season, finishing with 12 catches for 201 yards and three touchdowns. Sophomore Nic Sblendorio also had an impressive outing, tallying 120 receiving yards and one score on just three catches.
Junior Jabari Wilson rushed for 188 yards on 17 carries, registering a pair of touchdowns.
Freshman Alek Kacmarcik led all defensive players with 18 tackles while juniors Zach Bruce and Miquiyah Zamora recorded 10 tackles apiece. Freshman Kurt Calhoun made eight tackles and recorded the Eagles' lone sack of Prukop.
The two teams combined for 1.385 total yards of offense while the Eagles' 667 yards are good for the fourth-most in school history.
Montana State finished with 40 first downs compared to 18 for Eastern. The Bobcats also controlled the time of possession, keeping the ball for over 38 minutes. EWU did not need much time to score, however, as the Eagles' eight touchdown drives lasted an average of four plays and just under 90 seconds.
Kupp moved into second all-time in school history in career touchdowns (45), career receptions (233) and career all-purpose yards (4,026). His 45 career scores also rank seventh in FCS history. He sits one touchdown shy of the school and Big Sky Conference record of 46 touchdowns set by Eric Kimble from 2002 to 2005.
Eastern has now won four consecutive games over Montana State dating back to the 2012 season.
The Eagles open Big Sky play this Saturday, Sept. 26, on the road at Sacramento State. Kickoff is set for 6:05 p.m.