Big Sky Conference

BIG SKY ROUNDUP: Kupp leads EWU past Sac, Montana outlasts NAU


When in doubt, throw the ball to Cooper Kupp.

Once again, the strategy worked for the Eastern Washington Eagles. On Saturday in Sacramento, the EWU junior converted a key third down to set up EWU’s go-ahead touchdown, then turned the one-point lead into an eight-point advantage as EWU beat Sacramento State 28-20 going away. Kupp’s 22-yard touchdown gave Eastern a 28-20 lead with less than two minutes in the third quarter. The score also served as Kupp’s 47th of his career, a Big Sky Conference record surpassing the one held by former Eagle Eric Kimble for most of the last decade.

EWU quarterback Jordan West, the nation’s leading passer, continued to put up big numbers. He completed 29-of-47 passes for a school-record 491 yards yards and three touchdowns. Kupp finished with 10 catches for 133 yards, his fourth straight 100-yard game and the 19th of his career. He caught two touchdowns to break yet another record. Kupp now has 46 catches for 759 yards and 10 touchdowns this season. For his career, he has 243 catches for 3,881 yards. Kupp is just 15 catches from Kasey Dunn’s (Idaho 1988-91) all-time Big Sky record. He needs just 259 yards to surpass Kimble’s all-time league mark. EWU moved to 2-2 this season, winning for the second straight time.

In other Big Sky Conference action, the Treasure State schools reestablished home-field advantage, Weber State earned its first two-game winning streak under Jay Hill and North Dakota hung on during the first full week league play, a Saturday that included five BSC matchups.

In this photo provided by Montana State University….during an NCAA football game Saturday, Sept. 26 2015 in Bozeman, Mont. (AP photo/Kelly Gorham, Montana State University)

Dakota Prukop, courtesy of Montana State (AP photo/Kelly Gorham, Montana State University)

Montana State scored at will for the first three quarters, jumping out to leads of 21-0, 28-7 and 45-21 in a 45-28 win over Cal Poly in Bozeman on Saturday. Dakota Prukop threw for 399 yards and three touchdowns and Chad Newell rushed for 111 yards and three more scores as MSU moved to 1-0 in Big Sky play by handing Cal Poly its third straight loss.

In Missoula, the Montana Grizzlies jumped out to a 16-0 halftime lead and then held on against Northern Arizona. Chase Naccarato scored a three-yard touchdown with 4:05 to play to life Montana to a 23-14 win. Montana piled up 195 yards rushing, including 71 yards and a 22-yard touchdown on just seven carries for junior John Nguyen. Montana ran 89 plays for 474 yards. Backup quarterback Chad Chalich threw for 279 yards and the game-sealing touchdown. He also rushed for 40 yards. The Idaho transfer hooked up with Jamaal Jones seven times for 113 yards and Ellis Henderson six times for 95 yards.

Senior defensive end Tyrone Holmes spearheaded a defense that allowed just 1.7 yards per carry and recorded eight sacks. Holmes led the way with four acks and 5.5 tackles for loss among his 11 tackles. So far his senior year, Holmes has eight sacks and 11 tackles for loss.

“It’s my senior year, there is a sense of urgency,” Holmes said in a UM press release. “I’m already half way through all the home games of my senior year, that is enough motivation.”

Holmes shined particularly bright, but the entire Grizzly defense deserves the spotlight after holding Northern Arizona to just 266 total yards. Their previous low for yards in a game was 346, against nationally ranked Arizona.

“Thank goodness our secondary was playing good, because I was able to get a little more time to get there,” Holmes said. “I think it was good to be able to establish some sort of rhythm. It’s nice that the offense was able to get up so (NAU) had to throw the ball. It’s kind of a combination of everything, created kind of a perfect storm as far as pass rushing goes.”

NAU quarterback Case Cookus, a true freshman who was questionable all week with an ankle injury, completed 13-of-22 passes for 187 yards and two touchdowns, each to sophomore Emmanuel Butler, who finshed with 126 yards on four catches. UM limited stud senior Casey Jahn to 87 yards on 24 carries.

Eric Wilkes

Weber State’s Eric Wilkes rushed for 122 yards on Saturday.

In Greeley, Weber built a 31-0 lead midway through the third quarter in cruising to a 38-17 victory over Northern Colorado. Behind 122 yards from Eric Wilkes and 81 more yards from Treshawn Garrett, WSU rushed for 254 yards and scored three touchdowns on the ground. Justin Shaw replaced Jadrian Clark at quarterback in the second half. He threw for a touchdown and ran for another.

LeGrand Tola led the Weber defense with nine tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss and a sack.

In Grand Forks, North Dakota built a 28-10 lead early in the third quarter thanks to two rushing touchdowns by freshman John Santiago and two passing touchdowns by Keaton Studsrud. Davis scored 14 points over the last 19 minutes but UND held on. UND rushed for 240 yards on 40 carries, including 152 on 19 carries by Santiago. Studsrud completed 8-of-19 passes for 58 yards and rushed 11 times for 49 yards. UC Davis quarterback Ben Scott completed 14-of-20 passes for 174 yards and three touchdowns.

In non-conference action, Southern Utah earned its second straight win with a 55-7 victory over Division II Brevard College. No. 16 Portland State moved to 3-0 with a 31-0 win over Division II Western Oregon. Idaho State fell for a third straight week with a 80-8 loss at UNLV.

Ammon Olsen completed 16-of-22 passes for 195 yards and three touchdowns, one each to Ty Rutledge, Justin Brown and Naia Ursua as Southern Utah built a 41-0 lead through the first three quarters. The Thunderbirds rushed for 365 yards, including 91 for Malik Brown and 90 for Levi Te’o. SUU limited Brevard to 212 yards, including just one completed pass for 36 yards.

Portland State safety Patrick Onwuasor's second INT of the season.

Portland State safety Patrick Onwuasor’s second INT of the season.

In Portland, Xavier Coleman had two interceptions,Patrick Onwuasor had a pick and PSU held Western Oregon to just 10 first downs. Junior quarterback Alex Kuresa threw for 127 yards and ran for 55, scoring a touchdown. Nate Tago added 69 yards and a score while Steven Long and Josh Kraght added rushing touchdowns.

UNLV piled up 35 points in the first quarter and 52 points by halftime in blasting the Bengals. The Bengals rushed for 517 yards in scoring a school-record for points.



About Colter Nuanez

Colter Nuanez is the co-founder and senior writer for Skyline Sports. After spending six years in the newspaper industry with stops at the Missoulian, the Ellensburg Daily Record and the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, the former Washington Newspaper Association Sportswriter of the Year and University of Montana Journalism School graduate ('09) has cultivated a deep passion for sports journalism during his 13-year career covering the Big Sky Conference. In August of 2014, Colter and brother Brooks merged their passions of writing and art to found Skyline Sports.

Recommended for you