BOZEMAN — Gage Gubrud has made 22 career starts at quarterback for Eastern Washington but will sit out this week due to a suspension handed down over the weekend by first-year Eagles coach Aaron Best.
Gubrud and linebacker Kurt Calhoun, both juniors, will sit out Saturday’s game against North Dakota due to what was described Sunday in a press release from the EWU athletic department as a violation of team rules.
"I was made aware of a situation that occurred (Saturday) night involving both Gage and Kurt," Best was quoted. "The incident is in violation of our team rules, and in response to the situation I have suspended both players for this week's game at North Dakota.
“Unless something else unveils itself, we will then move forward. I do not plan on elaborating any further than what I have just indicated on the incident."
The Spokesman-Review in Spokane, Washington, reported Monday that Gubrud and Calhoun were arrested Saturday night — after a 28-20 loss to Weber State — outside of a Cheney, Washington, restaurant for obstructing a police officer.
According to the Spokesman, Gubrud and Calhoun interfered with the arrest of another man who was kicking down a fence. Gubrud and Calhoun were cited and then released, the Spokesman reported.
Gubrud has thrown for 2,987 yards and 22 touchdowns with 12 interceptions for the 19th-ranked Eagles (5-4, 4-2). He had a four-game stretch this season in which he passed for at least 399 yards, but has been held under 250 yards in each of his past three.
In Gubrud’s absence, redshirt freshman Eric Barriere will make his first career start. Barriere has appeared in three games this season but has completed just 1 of 2 passes for 13 yards and an interception.
Relegated to using its emergency quarterback (Makena Simis), Montana’s defense knew it had to perform well Saturday at home against Big Sky Conference rival Northern Arizona.
The Grizzlies answered the call, limiting the Lumberjacks — who were without starting quarterback Case Cookus after being disqualified on a targeting penalty in the first quarter — to just 322 yards of offense.
Linebacker Connor Strahm was the catalyst, making a career-high 16 tackles (2½ for loss) and forcing a fumble in a 17-15 victory. For his efforts, Strahm was named Monday as the Big Sky Conference’s defensive player of the week and also earned an honorable mention for STATS national FCS defensive player of the week.
“The win's a lot bigger than the award,” Strahm said during a press conference Monday. “My mom's probably more excited than I am about it. It shows how good team defense — (linemen) Jesse Sims, David Shaw in front of me — makes a lot of things pretty easy.”
“He put the team on his shoulders and played as hard as he could for as long as he could,” defensive coordinator Jason Semore said in a UM release. “He went out there on a mission and had a great game.”
Weber State (7-2, 5-1 Big Sky) kept itself firmly in the conference title race with its victory at Eastern Washington last week.
The Wildcats defense limited EWU to just two second-half field goals. A 24-yard touchdown scamper by running back David Jones with 2:26 remaining gave them an eight-point cushion. WSU stopped the Eagles on their final two possessions to preserve it.
The victory meant Weber State was able to defeat Montana, Montana State and Eastern Washington in the same season for the first time since 1987, a year in which they shared the conference crown with Idaho and made the playoffs.
Off the mat
It was a matchup of winless teams, and Cal Poly emerged with its first victory of the year with a 35-28 win over Portland State on Saturday.
It also gave Mustangs coach Tim Walsh his 68th Big Sky victory, placing him in a tie for second-place on the all-time list with ex-Nevada coach Chris Ault.
NAU’s loss to Montana made sure that there are no undefeated teams left in the Big Sky. The Lumberjacks (6-3, 5-1) debuted in the STATS FCS Top 25 poll last week at No. 18 but slipped to No. 24 on Monday.
Southern Utah (7-2, 5-1) defeated North Dakota 47-21 and is now ranked No. 15, up two spots from last week. Weber State, with its win over EWU, moved up five spots to No. 14. The Eagles fell eight spots to No. 19.
Montana (6-3, 4-2) remains in the “others receiving votes” category, along with Sacramento State (5-4, 4-2).
Nationally, North Dakota State (8-1) lost 33-21 to South Dakota State (7-2) in their Dakota Maker rivalry game Saturday. The Bison dropped three spots to No. 5 while the Jackrabbits moved up four spots to No. 6.
Around the league
UC Davis QB Jake Maier was named the Big Sky’s offensive player of the week on Monday. His 358 passing yards and four total TDs helped the Aggies beat Idaho State 56-17. Maier now has 3,033 yards and has thrown for 300 or more yards seven times. ... Aggies K/P Matt Blair was named the league’s special teams POW. Blair had 585 kickoff yards and pinned three punts inside the 20 against ISU.