FLAGSTAFF, Arizona -

A fast start was just what the Eagles needed, and they got two of them.

The fourth-ranked Eastern Washington University football team Eastern opened a 19-7 lead in the first half and leads of 36-21 and 50-28 in the second half to defeat Big Sky Conference favorite and No. 26 Northern Arizona 50-35 Saturday (Sept. 24) at the Walkup Skydome in Flagstaff, Ariz.

The victory snapped a two-game losing streak against the Lumberjacks, who at one point last year had handed the Eagles their only two losses in a 24-game span. Because EWU didn't play NAU in 2012 and 2013, it was the first Eagle win over the Lumberjacks since 2011.

Quarterback Gage Gubrud had 487 yards of total offense – his third game of the season with at least that many – and directed the Eagles on touchdown drives of 64, 62, 50, 70, 72, 76 and 43 yards. He passed for two scores and rushed for another, as the Eagles finished with 540 yards on the day.

Even more importantly, the Eagles had three interceptions to win the turnover battle 3-0 against a team that had no interceptions and just one fumble lost entering the game. The win avenged a heartbreaking 28-27 loss to the Lumberjacks the last time they met in Flagstaff.

"From start to finish, we played a lot of great football," said Eastern head coach Beau Baldwin. "They (NAU) are a great team, so we knew it was going to be a battle and it was going to be close. This is a hard place to win. For our players to find that wind and that guts in the second half to win games, that's because of our work ethic in the off-season. It's a mental and physical approach, and our players really got after it. Especially in the second half, we were playing great team football."

Entering the game, Eastern had jumped up four positions to fourth in this week's STATS FCS Top 25 poll, while Northern Arizona fell from 24th to 26th in the poll. In the coaches poll, Eastern moved up two slots to fifth, while Northern Arizona was 25th, with NDSU remaining No. 1 in both polls after knocking off the Eagles. In the Athlon Power Rankings, the Eagles were second behind North Dakota State, while NAU is ranked 23rd.