MISSOULA, Mont. (AP)Cam Humphrey threw three touchdown passes, including a pair to Samuel Akem in the second half, and No. 6 seed Montana beat Eastern Washington 50-35 on Friday night in the second round of the FCS playoffs.
Montana (10-2), a two-time FCS champion making its record 25th playoff appearance, advances to its 14th quarterfinals and second in the last three years.
Kevin Macias kicked a 44-yard field goal for the Grizzlies and then Montana’s Gavin Robertson and Robby Hauck had tackles on back-to-back plays that were both reviewed but neither were ultimately determined to be targeting before Eastern Washington (10-3) lined up to go for it on fourth-and-2 near midfield field. After a false start by the Eagles, Ryan Tirrell blocked a punt that was recovered at the 17 by Levi Janacaro. Four plays later, Junior Bergen scored on a 5-yard run to trim the Grizzlies’ deficit to 21-20 midway through the third quarter.
Macias made a 46-yarder to open the scoring in the third quarter and, after Eastern Washington went three-and-out, Bergen returned a punt 37 yards to the the 8, setting up a touchdown run by Xavier Harris on the next play to make it 30-21 and Montana led the rest of the way.
Eric Barriere completed 47 of 80 passes for 530 yards and five touchdowns with a fumble – that turned into a Montana touchdown and gave the Grizzlies a three-score lead late in the third quarter – and an interception, a 55-yard pick-6 by Justin Ford that made it 57-35 with 2:08 to play.
Barriere hit Talolo Limu-Jones on fourth-and-6 – after an EWU false start on fourth-and-1 – for a 24-yard gain to the 9 and a roughing the passer penalty a play later made in first-and-goal from the 4. Three plays later, Barriere threw a laser to Limu-Jones in the back of the end zone to make it 30-28 with 6:33 left in the third quarter. Barriere, who was battered throughout the game, was hit on the throw and was in obvious discomfort – grabbing at his midsection – as he walked off the field.
Garrett Graves returned the ensuing kick 33 yards before Cam Humphrey’s 44-yard TD pass to Akem capped a three-play, 60-yard drive and made it a two-possession game just 71 seconds later.
Barriere has 120 career touchdown passes and moved past Steve McNair for fifth most in FCS history.
Limu-Jones finished with 14 receptions for 215 yards and two touchdowns and Andrew Boston, who also had 14 catches, finished with 141 yards receiving and a score.
Montana is 18-6-1 at home against the Eagles all-time.
Akem finished with five receptions for 104 yards.
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