Arrow-right Camera
Go to e-Edition Sign up for newsletters Customer service
Subscribe now
Sports >  EWU football

EWU notebook: Montana State’s Tommy Mellott leaves with injury; Micah Smith gets running game going

Sept. 24, 2022 Updated Sat., Sept. 24, 2022 at 9:56 p.m.

EWU quarterback Gunner Talkington hands off to running back Micah Smith, who finished Saturday’s game with 114 rushing yards.  (Jesse Tinsley/THE SPOKESMAN-REVI)
EWU quarterback Gunner Talkington hands off to running back Micah Smith, who finished Saturday’s game with 114 rushing yards. (Jesse Tinsley/THE SPOKESMAN-REVI)
By Dan Thompson For The Spokesman-Review

After preparing all week for the Montana State Bobcats to heavily use two quarterbacks against them Saturday in Cheney, the Eastern Washington Eagles’ saw a much more one-dimensional offense after Tommy Mellott went down hard at the end of the first quarter.

Mellott, MSU’s starting quarterback, slid at the end of an 11-yard second-down run, when he was tackled by Eastern safety Ely Doyle and linebacker Jaren Banks. Mellott’s head bounced hard off the Roos Field turf, and he remained down for a few minutes as trainers worked to get him back to his feet.

He did so and made his way to the sidelines with help but never returned to the game, and by halftime he was no longer wearing a jersey or pads.

Montana State went on to win 38-35 without him, but it did so with an offense that almost exclusively ran the football with Sean Chambers playing quarterback.

“First off, I hope Tommy’s OK,” said Eagles coach Aaron Best, who spoke with Mellott coming out of halftime. “The worst part about this game is injuries.

“Without him, they leaned on Chambers, and I think he did as well or better than maybe himself or his team thought.”

No targeting penalty was called on the play, nor was there one assessed later (upon review) on Anthany Smith, who was initially called for one after a later hit on Chambers.

Aside from a couple of throws that resulted in pass interference calls against the Eagles, Chambers attempted only 12 passes, completing six for 69 yards and one touchdown.

Primarily, Chambers served as a battering ram, rushing 28 times for 160 yards and two scores, bringing his season total to nine rushing touchdowns. He now has 345 rushing yards in four games this season and has completed 9 of 21 passes for 99 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions.

“When (Mellott) went down, it really just kind of made them one-dimensional,” EWU linebacker Derek Tommasini said. “It took out a lot of their option plays. It really helped us to lock down.”

Eastern was able to hold Montana State scoreless on four straight second-half drives, which gave the Eagles’ offense the chance to retake the lead briefly in the fourth quarter.

But the Bobcats finished the game with a 466-349 advantage in total offense, powered by 355 rushing yards.

In three games this season, Eastern has allowed opponents to rush for 290 yards (Tennessee State), 263 yards (Oregon) and now 355 to go with a total of 10 rushing touchdowns.

The Bobcats won with a similar formula that they used in Cheney last November, in a 23-20 victory over the Eagles. They ran for 291 yards that day, the most the Eagles allowed in a single game all of last season.

Up and down game for Smith

For its own part, Eastern was finally able to get its running game going, and it did so almost immediately.

Making his first start, junior Micah Smith scored on his second carry of the game, a 56-yard dash down the right sideline after taking a direct snap from center Luke Dahlgren.

Smith worked the other side of MSU’s defense on Eastern’s next drive, scoring another touchdown from 28 yards out. He got his 100th yard on a run in the fourth quarter and became Eastern’s first 100-yard rusher of the season, finishing with 114 yards on 13 carries.

Last season, he played in 11 games and ran 36 times for 139 yards.

His outing was marred, though, by a fourth-quarter fumble that gave Montana State the ball at the EWU 20-yard line.

Three Eagles defenders leave with injuries

Eastern’s defense lost three players to injury over the course of the game, all of them starters.

The first to leave the game was junior cornerback Demetrius Crosby Jr., whose one tackle came behind the line of scrimmage.

He was replaced by junior Tre Weed – who intercepted a game-sealing pass against Tennessee State earlier this season – and nickelback Marlon Jones Jr.

Then, junior defensive tackle Josh Jerome, a preseason all-conference selection, left with an injury and had just two tackles.

Finally, after he had recorded an interception earlier in the fourth quarter, senior linebacker Banks left the game late with an apparent injury to his arm or shoulder.

He had nine tackles, second most on the team behind Doyle, who had 11.

Talkington rebounds

After completing 12 of 21 passes for just 87 yards two weeks ago against Oregon, Gunner Talkington found more windows to throw the football against Montana State.

The senior quarterback finished 16 of 26 for 201 yards and three touchdowns against the Bobcats, a similar stat line to that of Eric Barriere last season against Montana State. In that 23-20 loss, Barriere completed 21 of 31 passes for two touchdowns and a season-low 214 yards.

Talkington also scrambled for 22 yards. He threw one interception, on the Eagles’ final offensive play of the game.

On the season, Talkington has completed 57 of 93 attempts for 636 yards and 10 touchdowns to three interceptions.

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

Local journalism is essential.

Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.

Active Person

Subscribe to the sports newsletter

Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.