Gubrud rallies No. 11 EWU past Griz

Eastern Washington quarterback Gage Gubrud (8) looks to pass during the first half of an NCAA college football game against the Washington State in Pullman, Wash., Saturday, Sept. 3, 2016. (AP Photo/Young Kwak)

(STATS) – Now about those plans for Eastern Washington be a more run-oriented team …

Quarterback Gage Gubrud shredded that concept like he did the Montana defense Saturday night. The redshirt junior passed for a school-record 549 yards and accounted for five touchdowns in the second half as the No. 11 Eagles rallied past Montana 48-41 at Washington-Grizzly Stadium.

The defending conference co-champion Eagles (2-2, 1-0) trailed 24-6 at halftime after Montana quarterback Gresch Jensen’s 44-yard Hail Mary to close the second quarter was answered by Justin Calhoun in Eastern Washington’s end zone. But Gubrud capped the opening drive of the third quarter with a 2-yard touchdown pass to Sam McPherson and the Eagles’ comeback was on.

“What I do know, and everybody here knows,” first-year coach Aaron Best said, “Eastern Washington University, regardless of who’s coaching, it’s just a matter of who’s playing. They’ve always played 60 minutes – that’s never been an issue.”

Gubrud’s 3-yard touchdown pass to Nic Sblendorio (18 receptions, 189 yards) with 6:53 left to play put the Eagles ahead 41-34 for the first time since an opening field goal midway through the first quarter.

Gubrud completed 44 of 65 passes with one interception. He added 11 rushing yards to gain 560 of Eastern Washington’s 617 offensive yards.

Jensen, a redshirt freshman making his first career start for Montana, was 25 of 49 for 358 yards and two touchdowns with one interception. He also rushed for 45 yards and a touchdown.

“When they completed that Hail Mary pass, there was a lot of wind that went out of our sails,” Best said. “We talked at halftime that one play doesn’t define a game. We executed immensely well in the second half and I’m proud of our team. Very proud.”

“Hat’s off to them,” Montana coach Bob Stitt said. “They came into a very hostile environment and went into halftime with a lot of adversity, and came out and played very well and bounced back. They’re a team that’s won a lot of games and they know how to win.”

The game was only the eighth night game in stadium history at UM, with Montana falling to 6-2 in them.

Eastern has won six of the last seven meetings between the rivals.