CHENEY, Wash. — From the start it was a shootout atop The Inferno, as Montana State exchanged blows with Eastern Washington. In the end, the Bobcats held on for a 38-35 victory in the Big Sky opener between the rival schools.
In the first quarter, the Eagles saw their first two running scores of the season at the hands of running back Micah Smith. On their first possession, on third and 1 Smith broke out for a 56-yard touchdown run to get on the board.
However, despite their lack of running back depth, the Bobcats would respond on the ensuing drive as sophomore Elijah Elliott broke off a 45-yard run of his own to tie it up at 7-7 just minutes into the game.
Smith would score again, though this time from 28 yards in a back and forth bout as Eastern Washington put together an efficient run game.
With about four minutes left in the first quarter, Cats starting sophomore quarterback Tommy Mellott went down with an injury that took him out for the rest of the game.
Mellott banged his head off the turf at the end of a running play and appeared to be knocked out. He left the game, and Wyoming transfer Sean Chambers stepped in.
Three plays into the second quarter, senior captain R.J. Fitzgerald scored from 13 yards out to make the score 17-10, but Eastern Washington would respond.
EWU quarterback Gunner Talkington finally put his stamp on the game with a touchdown pass to Chism Efton III from 4 yards out. Chambers would finally settle in beautifully though for Montana State.
Sparked by a 30-yard quarterback keeper up the middle, Chambers finished out the next drive with a touchdown pass to Willie Patterson from the 5-yard line. MSU was on top 24-21 at the half.
The first drive of the second half for the Cats lasted 6 minutes and 15 seconds as Chambers concluded with a 2-yard score. But in the fourth quarter, Talkington showed off his playmaking ability with an 80-yard bomb to Freddie Roberson to make it 31-28 with 13:59 left in game.
After a three-and-out from the Cats, Talkington struck again with a 8-yard laser to Nolan Ulm with the score now 35-31 in favor of the Eagles.
After an interception in their end zone it seemed like the Eagles would be able to run out the clock and find victory but with 3:52 left in the game on their own 20-yard-line, Micah Smith coughed up the ball after a strip by Callahan O'Reilly. Ty Okada would recover for Montana State.
Chambers would then take advantage. From 13 yards out, Chambers dragged the Eastern defense to the end zone to deliver the final blow in a emotional, hard fought game as Montana State opened up Big Sky Conference play with a win.
Chambers finished with 28 carries for 160 yards and two touchdowns while throwing for one score as well. His backfield counterpart Elliott ran 18 times for 156 yards and one touchdown.