Adams returns to spark Eastern Washington past Montana

Cheney, WA ( - He's baaack.

Oh, how ever.

Eastern Washington quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. returned to the lineup for the first time since being injured on Oct. 3, passing for 399 yards and four touchdowns to help the fifth-ranked Eagles defeat No. 11 Montana, 36-26, before 11,339 in a key Big Sky Conference game on Saturday.

Adams broke two metatarsal bones in his right foot and missed four straight games. He returned to complete 24-of-36 pass attempts.

"Vernon was gutsy," Eastern coach Beau Baldwin said. "He definitely wasn't 100 percent in terms of being able to move and get out of things like he usually can, but he was still was able to buy time, see things, throw from the pocket and make a lot of plays. I guarantee his foot is hurting him, but it was a very impressive performance by Vernon."

With the redshirt junior again guiding Eastern Washington's high-powered offense, the Eagles (9-2, 6-1) built a 33-10 lead midway through the third quarter.

Just like last year's matchup at Montana, the Grizzlies (6-4, 4-2) rallied back into the game, pulling within 33-26 before EWU put the win away on Tyler McNannay's 34-yard field goal with 28 seconds left. The Eagles have sole possession of first place in the crowded Big Sky race.

Adams spread the wealth. Cooper Kupp (eight receptions, 134 yards), Shaq Hill (seven receptions, 103 yards), Nic Sblendorio and Kendrick Bourne all caught receptions.

Linebacker Ronnie Hamlin had nine tackles to give him 440 in his career, a new EWU record.

Montana quarterback Jordan Johnson was 29-for-50 for 447 yards and three interceptions and two interceptions. Jamal Jones caught nine passes for 139 yards and a touchdown.