BOZEMAN — The much-anticipated showdown between Big Sky Conference powers Eastern Washington and Montana State lived up to its billing and then some.
Mario Brown scored on a 1-yard run with 27 seconds left and quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. ran in the two-point conversion to lift Eastern Washington to a 52-51 non-conference victory over the Bobcats on Saturday.
The Bobcats (2-2) had forged ahead with 1:55 to play when Dakota Prukop threw his fourth touchdown pass of the game hitting Shaun Johnson from nine yards on third-and-goal, putting MSU up 51-44.
MSU got to the EWU 43-yard line, but a pass in the flat to Johnson that could’ve put the Bobcats in field goal range went off his hands. A last gasp heave into the end zone fell incomplete as MSU lost to EWU for the third straight year.
“That one play would’ve got 10 yards and given us a 50-yard attempt and I think (kicker) Luke (Daly) would’ve made it,” MSU head coach Rob Ash said.
“I turned wrong on the pass,” Johnson said. “I wanted to get in better position to turn it up field and it put me out of position. I should’ve just turned and caught it.”
MSU led 44-30 early in the fourth quarter, but would turn the ball over on downs twice, while EWU (3-1) found the end zone twice to tie the score.
“When you’re going through moments like that it doesn’t do any good to look in the rearview mirror,” EWU head coach Beau Baldwin said of his team’s mindset after falling behind. “Vernon’s a resilient guy. He’s the ultimate competitor.”
Facing a fourth-and-10 on his final drive, Adams found Kendrick Bourne for 40 yards to the MSU 21.
The teams combined for 1,129 yards. Quincy Forte ran for 146 yards in the first quarter and finished with 190 yards and four touchdowns.
Adams was 25 for 43 for 358 yards and two touchdowns.
Johnson had 150 yards rushing and 62 receiving with three total touchdowns. He also had 374 all-purpose yards with 162 on returns.
Prukop finished 17 for 26 for 248 yards and added 68 rushing with a touchdown.
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