Posted: Sep 29, 2012 8:57 PM by Drew Trafton
Updated: Sep 29, 2012 10:57 PM
CHENEY, WA - The University of Montana Grizzlies definitely feel the heat when they play on Eastern Washington University's ‘Inferno'.
On both occasions the Griz have played on the Eagles' home field of red turf, they've walked away with 4th quarter meltdowns on the losing end of scrappy games.
On Saturday night, it was EWU's recovery of an onside kick and subsequent drive down field with 2:19 left in the game that left the Griz in the dust and in an unfamiliar 0-2 hole in Big Sky Conference play.
However, the Griz were far from perfect before handing the fate of the game over to EWU with the onside kick.
In fact, the 7th-ranked Eagles led in the contest for most of the first half, first jumping out to a 7-0 lead after an impressive 75-yard, 8 play drive ended in a 5 yard touchdown dash for EWU junior running back Demitrius Bronson with 10 minutes left in the first quarter.
The Griz wouldn't get on the board until 6 minutes later, when Griz running back Peter Nguyen ripped off a 37-yard run to land in the endzone and even the score at 7-7.
The Eagles would be the next to score when they took advantage of a Griz turnover, as EWU quarterback Vernon Adams connected on a 36-yard touchdown pass to EWU slot man (and quarterback) Kyle Padron.
The Griz put up a field goal from kicker Chris Lider with 7 minutes left on the clock, and after the Eagles returned the favor in kind, the Griz ended up going into halftime trailing 17-10.
In the second half, both offenses were able to get the ball rolling, but the scoreboard was hard to find as the offenses traded possessions until the Griz were able to find the endzone as quarterback Trent Mckinney rushed for an 8-yard score.
However, Lider missed the extra point and the Griz continued to trail 17-16.
And to make matters worse, key running back Dan Moore left the game for the Griz on the previous drive, leaving Montana without a valuable component for the rest of the game.
The Griz caught a break after their scoring drive however, as EWU punter Jake Miller botched a punt and set the Griz up a Jordan Canada touchdown a few plays later.
This time Lider hit the PAT, which put the Griz up 23-17.
That lead would hold through the rest of the quarter.
After trading turnovers at the beginning of the quarter (Nguyen fumbled on the 5-yard line of an otherwise impressive drive), a 73-yard burst from Canada put the Griz in position for a Lider field goal to make the game 26-17 with 8 minutes left in the game.
Things were starting to look up, especially when the Griz recovered an Eastern fumble on the very next drive.
However, the Griz elected to run and punt, and gave the Eagles the ball back with what turned out to be way too much time.
With just 2:19 left in the game, Adams connected with wide receiver Brandon Kaufman after two fruitless attempts earlier in the game.
After the PAT, the Eagels trailed by two points, 26-24.
And then it happened.
The Griz botched the recovery, which set up the Eagles with excellent scoring position.
EWU capitalized on mistake with :53 left on the clock when Adams hit Ashton Clark on a 20-yard pass.
The Eagles then converted the 2-point conversion to lead 32-26.
Although the Griz were able to march down the field with the time remaining, they couldn't get it done as time expired on the "Inferno", where the Griz have yet to claim victory.