MISSOULA — Vernon Adams went into Saturday’s game against Montana with the goal of getting the ball to his playmakers. And boy did the Eastern Washington quarterback ever deliver.
Adams threw six touchdown passes to lead the Eagles to a wild 42-37 win over the Grizzlies in a Big Sky Conference showdown.
“It’s all about executing and getting my playmakers the ball,” Adams said. “They were putting pressure on us and I took some hits. But I got them the ball.”
Adams threw for 457 yards while tying his own school record for touchdown passes in a game.
“He’s got guts to take a few shots and guts to stand in there and make those plays,” Eastern Washington coach Beau Baldwin said of his quarterback.
Eastern Washington (6-2, 4-0 Big Sky) jumped out to a 28-17 halftime lead on Adams’ passes of 19 and 34 yards to Cooper Kupp, 4 yards to Ashton Clark and 86 yards to Shaquille Hill.
Montana (6-2, 3-2) got first half touchdowns on a 24-yard Jordan Canada run and a 42-yard pass from Jordan Johnson to Ellis Henderson.
Adams continued his hot hand in the second half with a 52-yard scoring toss to Clark and a 9-yard touchdown pass to Mario Brown to put the Eagles up 42-17 at the end of the third quarter.
Montana rallied back in the fourth quarter, trimming the Eastern Washington lead to 42-31 on touchdown passes of 7 and 48 yards from Johnson to Henderson, the second coming with 7:36 to play.
The Grizzlies cut the Eagles lead to 42-37 on a 6-yard Johnson toss to Jordan Harper with 1:44 left in the game. Johnson was tackled a yard short of the end zone on the two-point conversion attempt.
Eastern Washington ran out the clock after Montana’s onside kick attempt was recovered by Kupp at the Montana 49-yard line.
“None of us signed up to quit,” said Montana coach Mick Delaney, “We were going to fight until the damn thing went down to zero.”
Kupp finished with 11 receptions for 182 yards and Hill had three catches for 112.
Johnson threw for 349 yards, 147 to Henderson on eight receptions.
“This game had a lot of ebbs and flows in the second half,” Baldwin said. “I give a lot of respect to Montana on how hard they fight. But our Eastern Washington guys fought to the end and got the win.”
Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup.
Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox.