Cheney, WA (SportsNetwork.com) - The most highly anticipated FCS game of the weekend certainly lived up to its hype Saturday.
Until, that is, No. 3 Eastern Washington pulled away from No. 4 Montana State for a 54-29 win and sole possession of first place in the Big Sky Conference.
Redshirt sophomore quarterback Vernon Adams was spectacular once again, leading scoring drives on the Eagles' first eight possessions. He completed 16-of-18 pass attempts for 300 yards and four touchdowns, giving him a school-record 38 this season. He added 76 yards and a touchdown on the ground.
For the second week in a row, Eastern Washington running back Quincy Forte scored twice on the ground, and he had 123 rushing yards. Receiver Shaquille Hill caught three of Adams' touchdown passes.
Eastern Washington improved to 8-2 overall and 6-0 in the Big Sky while earning its 500th all-time win. Montana State fell to 7-3 and 5-1.
"I've never seen anything like it," Bobcats coach Rob Ash said. "Throwing the ball, running the ball, they were very, very impressive. They made every play."
Montana State running back Cody Kirk rushed for two touchdowns in the first half as the Bobcats built a 21-20 lead, but Eastern Washington surged ahead on Forte's 26-yard TD run with 1:28 left in the first half for a 26-21 lead. The Eagles then overwhelmed the Bobcats in the second half.
Kirk finished with 100 rushing yards and 63 receiving yards. Senior quarterback DeNarius McGhee completed 31-of-37 pass attempts for 330 yards and a touchdown. He added one rushing score.
With two weeks remaining in the regular season, Eastern Washington takes its perfect conference record to Cal Poly next weekend and then hosts Portland State to end the season.
No. 1 North Dakota State (9-0, 6-0 Missouri Valley) 28,
Illinois State (5-5, 4-3) 10
North Dakota State remained one of two unbeaten teams in the FCS after a Coastal Carolina loss.
Senior quarterback Brock Jensen led the Bison with 198 passing yards and three touchdowns, two of which went to Zach Vraa. The North Dakota State defense, which leads the nation in yards allowed per game (245.3), held the Redbirds to 196 total yards of offense and just 10 points.
No. 2 Eastern Illinois (9-1, 6-0 OVC) 37, Murray State (5-5, 3-3) 17
Eastern Illinois remained perfect in the Ohio Valley Conference behind Shepard Little's 173 yards and two touchdowns on the ground.
The Panthers scored four rushing touchdowns, including one from quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. The standout senior passed for 299 yards and a touchdown.
Murray State junior quarterback Parks Frazier got the start and threw two touchdowns and two interceptions in the loss.
No. 18 Charleston Southern (10-1, 3-0 Big South) 31,
No. 5 Coastal Carolina (9-1, 3-1) 26
Charleston Southern grabbed the lead in the Big South Conference race by knocking previously unbeaten Coastal Carolina out of first place.
Christian Reyes rushed for 117 yards and two touchdowns in the win, while quarterbacks Daniel Croghan III and Kyle Copeland both threw for a touchdown. With 323 rushing yards, CSU went over 300 yards for the fourth time this season.
The Buccaneers also set a program record with its 10th win.
Coastal's Alex Ross was 17-for-29 for 242 yards and one touchdown.
No. 6 Sam Houston State (8-2, 4-1 Southland) 49, Nicholls (4-6, 1-4) 24
Although Sam Houston State gave up three fourth-quarter touchdowns, the Bearkats built up enough of a three-quarter lead to bury the Colonels.
A total of 10 Bearkats recorded at least one carry in the game, while Keshawn Hill notched two rushing scores. Quarterback Brian Bell threw for a Bearkats score and rushed for another.
Nicholls quarterback Beaux Hebert completed 15-of-16 pass attempts for 148 yards and two touchdowns in the loss.
No. 7 Fordham (10-0) 23, Bucknell (4-5) 21
Unbeaten Fordham overcame a 21-20 deficit after three quarters as Michael Marando kicked 28- and 19-yard field goals in the fourth quarter. He also connected on a 39-yarder in the second quarter.
Fordham quarterback Michael Nebrich, the Walter Payton Award candidate, threw for a first-quarter touchdown before leaving the game with an injury. In relief, Peter Maetzold was 21-of-35 for 318 yards and one touchdown with one interception.
No. 8 Maine (9-1, 6-0 CAA) 33, Albany (1-9, 0-6) 27
For the second straight week, Maine got a scare from one of the new CAA Football teams. And for the second straight week, Maine came away victorious, this time for the first 9-1 start in program history.
Quarterback Marcus Wasilewski led the way for the Black Bears, throwing for 231 yards and three touchdowns, including the game-winning score to John Ebeling with just over 11 minutes left in the fourth quarter.
Northern Iowa (5-5, 1-5 Missouri Valley) 22,
No. 9 Youngstown State (8-2, 5-1) 20
Tyler Sievertsen kicked a 34-yard field goal as time expired to end both Northern Iowa's five-game losing streak and Youngstown State's six-game winning streak.
Youngstown State senior quarterback Kurt Hess scored on a 4-yard run with 4:41 left to erase a 19-14 deficit. But UNI finished the game with a 15-play, 56- yard scoring drive.
Hess finished with three total touchdowns (two rushing, one passing).
No. 10 Montana (8-2) 31, South Dakota (4-6) 27
Things turned around quickly for Montana in the last 1:36 of the fourth quarter. Just after South Dakota took a 27-24 lead on a Miles Bergner field goal, Grizzlies receiver Ellis Henderson returned the ensuing kickoff 98 yards for the winning touchdown.
Montana quarterback Jordan Johnson threw for 337 yards and two touchdowns, but had three of his passes intercepted.
No. 11 McNeese State (8-2, 4-1 Southland) 69,
Stephen F. Austin (3-7, 1-4) 38
Diontae Spencer scored five touchdowns, including three on special teams, to spark McNeese State. He scored on 93- and 87-yard kickoff returns, a 35-yard punt return, and 10- and 9-yard receptions.
The three total touchdown returns tied an FCS single-game record. He racked up a school-record 365 all-purpose yards, highlighted by two kickoff returns
McNeese State outscored SFA, 24-0, in the second quarter in rebounding from last Saturday's loss to Southeastern Louisiana. Cody Stroud threw for four touchdowns and 333 yards.
Norfolk State (3-7, 3-3 MEAC) 27, No. 12 Bethune-Cookman (8-2, 5-1) 24
Norfolk State built a 27-7 lead through three quarters to pull a surprising road win over Bethune-Cookman. Natturner Harris' 31-yard touchdown return of BC-U quarterback Quentin Williams' fumble in the second quarter helped spark the Spartans.
For the Wildcats, who turned the ball over five times, Isidore Jackson rushed for 69 yards and two touchdowns. BC-U is tied with South Carolina State at 5-1 in conference play, but won the head-to-head meeting.
No. 23 William & Mary (7-3, 4-2 CAA) 24, No. 15 Delaware (7-3, 4-2) 10
One week after filling in as the Delaware starter and being named CAA offensive player of the week, Blue Hens quarterback Trevor Sasek experienced the opposite type of performance against William & Mary.
Sasek was 20-of-39 passing for 169 yards and two interceptions. William & Mary brought its FCS-leading scoring defense (12.4 points per game allowed) to Delaware, holding the Blue Hens to 10 points and 170 total offensive yards.
The result left Maine as the only CAA team without at least two conference losses. William & Mary, Delaware, New Hampshire and Towson are tied for second place at 4-2.
No. 16 Southeastern Louisiana (8-2, 5-0 Southland) 58,
Central Arkansas (5-5, 2-3) 31
Xavier Roberson jump-started Southeastern Louisiana with a 90-yard kickoff return for a touchdown and the Lions rolled to their seventh straight win.
SELU quarterback Bryan Bennett had 344 yards of total offense, including 142 on the ground, and totaled four touchdowns (two passing, two rushing).
No. 24 Chattanooga (8-2, 6-1 Southern) 20, No. 17 Wofford (5-4, 4-2) 10
Coupled with a Samford loss to Furman, Chattanooga clinched at least a share of the Southern Conference championship.
The Mocs, who have won six straight games, forced four Wofford turnovers in the win. Quarterback Jacob Huesman passed for 151 yards and rushed for 116 yards and a touchdown. Two first-quarter rushing touchdowns proved to be the go-ahead scores for the Mocs.
No. 19 South Dakota State (6-4, 3-3 Missouri Valley) 29,
Indiana State (1-9, 0-6) 0
South Dakota State tailback Zach Zenner rushed for 137 yards and a touchdown, while the defense held Indiana State to 161 total yards of offense.
After losing three of four games in the middle of their schedule, the Jackrabbits have strung together two key Missouri Valley wins in the last two weeks.
Furman (5-5, 4-2 Southern) 35, No. 20 Samford (6-4, 4-2) 17
Samford outgained Furman on offense (531 total yards to 336), but that wasn't enough to hold off the Paladins.
Bulldogs quarterback Andy Summerlin was intercepted twice in the game, one of which was returned for a late fourth-quarter Furman touchdown. Both Reese Hannon and Tanner Skogen passed for Furman scores.
The Bulldogs, who held sole possession of first place in the Southern Conference two weeks ago, have lost two straight conference games.
No. 21 Lehigh (7-2, 2-1 Patriot) 34, Holy Cross (3-8, 1-3) 20
Redshirt freshman quarterback Nick Shafnisky came off the bench to complete 11- of-12 pass attempts for 136 yards and two touchdowns to running back Keith Sherman while adding 55 yards and one touchdown on the ground.
Sherman also led the Lehigh running game with 141 yards and one touchdown on 17 carries. The Mountain Hawks, playing for the first time without injured quarterback Brandon Bialkowski, forced two turnovers.
No. 25 New Hampshire (5-4, 4-2 CAA) 33, No. 22 James Madison (6-4, 3-3) 17
New Hampshire kept alive its hope for an FCS playoff bid behind R.J. Harris' three touchdown receptions, including one on a pass from running back Nico Steriti. Harris finished with 10 receptions for 183 yards.
Justin Mello matched Harris' 10 receptions and had 123 receiving yards. Andy Vailas passed for 388 yards and two touchdowns for UNH, which is appearing in the Top 25 for the 136th straight week.
No. 13 Towson (8-2)
No. 14 Northern Arizona (7-2)