No. 17 Eastern Plays No. 12 Central in ‘Showdown on the Sound’

Former NAIA rival Wildcats are foe in second visit to Qwest Field in Seattle for EWU in matchup of nationally-ranked teams

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Eastern Washington Univ. “Eagles”
versus
Central Washington Univ. “Wildcats”

Saturday, September 11 • 6:05 p.m. Pacific
Qwest Field (67,000/FieldTurf) • Seattle, Wash. 

EWU Coach: Beau Baldwin (Central Washington ‘96)
School Record: 14-10/11-5 Big Sky (3rd Season)
Career Record: 24-13 (4th Season -- was 10-3 at CWU in 2007, 6-5 at EWU in 2008, 8-4 at EWU in 2009)
2010: 0-1/0-0 Big Sky Conference
Last Game:  Nevada 49, EWU 24 (Sept. 2 in Reno, Nevada)
2009: 8-4/6-2 Big Sky Conference
TV: None
Radio: 700-AM ESPN “The Ticket” in Spokane. Larry Weir returns for his 20th season calling the play-by-play, with analysis handled by Paul Sorensen.
Internet Radio: www.espnnorthwest.com
Weekly Coaches Show: Mondays, 6 p.m. at the Q Sports Bar and Restaurant at Northern Quest Resort & Casino. . . 700-AM ESPN “The Ticket” in Spokane and www.espnnorthwest.com
Webcast: www.bigskytv.org
Twitter: http://twitter.com/EWUAthletics


The yearly rivalry may be in the past, but not the intrigue.

Eastern Washington University and its former rival Central Washington square off Saturday (Sept. 11) in the second edition of the “Showdown on the Sound” at Qwest Field in Seattle, Wash. Kickoff is 6:05 p.m. Pacific time in a game carried live via radio in the Spokane area on 700-AM ESPN “The Ticket.”

The 17th-ranked Eagles (NCAA Football Championship Subdivision) and 12th-ranked Wildcats (NCAA Division II) are co-hosting the event. Tickets for the game will be available through Ticketmaster (ticketmaster.com and 866-448-7849) and the Qwest Field box office, with more information and links available at www.goeags.com.

Last season, Eastern defeated Portland State 47-10 on Oct. 31 at Qwest in the inaugural “Showdown on the Sound.” Central annually plays its “Battle in Seattle” at Qwest, and will take on Western Oregon there on Oct. 16.

Eastern is 33-30-4 against Central Washington in a series that started in 1921. Central, ranked third in last year’s final NCAA Division II poll, beat Eastern 21-14 the last time the schools met in 2006. The two schools were long-time rivals in the Evergreen Conference and the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), but Eastern left in the late 1970s to eventually become a member of NCAA Division I and the Big Sky Conference.

“I told our team that I don’t believe in calling them play-up games or play-down games,” said Eastern head coach Beau Baldwin. “Central is certainly not a play-down game -- they are going to be one tough opponent. They are going to be hungry as well, especially after losing the first game of the season. Playing at Qwest Field in Seattle just adds to the hunger for both teams. I expect it to be a tough ballgame, but I expect us to grow a lot in that game.”

"We look forward to playing a long-time rival at a premier venue,” said Eastern athletic director Bill Chaves when the game was announced earlier this summer. “We hope that a tremendous number of alumni and fans rally around this fantastic opportunity and come out and support two of the best football programs in their respective divisions.”

Eastern enters the game 0-1 after falling to Nevada 49-24 on Sept. 2. The Eagles had a chance to cut into an 11-point Wolf Pack lead in the fourth quarter, but an Eagle turnover led to two late Nevada scores. Central, meanwhile, is 1-1, losing its opener to Minnesota Duluth 35-10 and then rebounding for a 24-14 Great Northwest Athletic Conference victory over Dixie State.

Eastern is ranked 17th in this week’s The Sports Network/Fathead.com NCAA Football Championship Subdivision poll, dropping from 13th in the preseason poll. Central was ranked fifth in the NCAA Division II preseason poll, slipped to 13th after its loss to fifth-ranked Minnesota Duluth and is ranked 12th this week.

“We expect to take a big step,” said Baldwin. “I expect that we will have a salty taste in our mouths, which you always should after any loss. We have a couple of extra days to prepare for Central and we need to come back in that game like gangbusters.”

 

Central Grads Galore on Eagle Staff: Eastern Washington University's coaching staff is a who’s-who of Central Washington University graduates.

Head coach Beau Baldwin (’96) has spent his entire 21-year career as a player and coach at either CWU or EWU. His 17-year record as a collegiate coach is 105-71-1 (.596) with a 59-33 league mark (.641), including one national championship, five conference championships and a 7-6-1 record in seven post-season playoff appearances.

Eastern’s associate head coach and defensive coordinator John Graham (’92) spent two seasons as a player at Central and 13 more as a coach. Defensive line coach Ryan Sawyer (’03) was a four-year starter for the Wildcats at defensive end and also spent four years working under Graham. Quarterbacks coach Zak Hill (’04) was a record-breaking All-America quarterback at Central, then started his coaching career at Eastern under Baldwin, who coached Hill at Central for three seasons. Hill’s father, Butch Hill, is a member of CWU’s Hall of Fame after earning All-America honors in baseball and also playing as quarterback for the Wildcats in the mid-1960’s.

Torey Hunter, current defensive backs coach for the Eagles, spent the 2007 season coaching receivers at Central under Baldwin. Eastern assistant athletic director for development Marc Hughes and sports information director Dave Cook also attended CWU.

Former Wildcat and former Eagle Keith Grennan has played the last three seasons in the NFL, including the 2009 season in Cleveland after two years in San Diego. He played for the Eagles in 2005 and 2006 after playing as a tight end for Central in 2003, with his best game coming in a 48-29 loss at Eastern when he caught five passes for 82 yards. Hill was 28-of-48 for 359 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions in that game that wasn’t decided until EWU scored the last 17 points of the game.

On a lighter note, Grennan was involved in a “suspicious” incident while at Eastern with Wildcat player Chris Anderson -- who was at one time in the Eagle program. Grennan was forced to miss one of Eastern’s spring scrimmages after Anderson accidentally hooked him in the back of the head when they were fishing at Badger Lake near Cheney.

Several recent Eastern coaches from a variety of sports also attended Central or previously coached there -- Malik Roberson, Brian Strandley, Mike Burns, Carl Howell and G.E. Coleman.

 

More on Beau Baldwin: Baldwin is in his third season as head coach at Eastern, going 8-4 in 2009 after a 6-5 debut season in 2008. In 2007, as head coach at Central Washington, Baldwin was 10-3, giving him a 24-13 (.649) head coaching record. He is 17-7 (.708) in league games as a head coach, including an 11-5 mark in two seasons as head coach in the Big Sky Conference.

As a player, Baldwin was a two-time team captain and completed 121-of-197 passes for 1,655 yards and eight touchdowns. His career completion percentage of .614 is a school record. In a 38-35 win versus Simon Fraser in 1991, he set single-game school records for attempts (52), completions (32), yards (467), total plays (66) and total yards (550). He had a 6-yard touchdown pass with four seconds left to give the Wildcats the win.

Before Baldwin took the head coaching position at Central, the head coach for the Wildcats was current Idaho State head coach John Zamberlin. A former NFL linebacker who spent three seasons as Eastern's defensive line coach from 1992-94, Zamberlin was on EWU’s staff when it won the Big Sky Conference title and advanced to the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision Playoffs in 1992.

 

Two of the Best in Their Respective Divisions: Both the Wildcats and Eagles started the 2010 season ranked high in preseason national polls. Eastern started where they ended last season, earning a ranking of 13th in The Sports Network/Fathead.com NCAA Football Championship Subdivision 2010 Top 25 Preseason Poll released Aug. 16. Several preseason publications also had the Eagles ranked as high as 12th (Athlon), as well as rankings of 17th (Lindy’s) and 21st (The Sporting News). The FCS Coaches Poll ranked Eastern 14th when it was released on Aug. 23.

Central was ranked fifth in the American Football Coaches Association NCAA Division II preseason poll, then dropped to 13th after falling to fourth-ranked Minnesota Duluth 35-10 on Aug. 28. The Wildcats have been in the NCAA Division II Playoffs each of the last three seasons, including the 2007 season when its head coach was current Eagle head coach Beau Baldwin. The Wildcats are 32-6 over the past three seasons and finished the 2009 season 12-1. They lost in the quarterfinals of the Division II Playoffs to Northwest Missouri State 21-20.

The Eagles finished the 2009 season with an 8-4 record and advanced to the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision Playoffs for the fourth time in the last six seasons. Eastern returned 10 starters from that team -- including five on offense and five on defense, plus a pair of returning players who started nearly half of the season as injury replacements.

However, the Eagles did lose 17 Eagle seniors who combined for 350 starts in their careers, including quarterback Matt Nichols, tight end Nathan Overbay and right tackle Chris Thomas off an extremely prolific offense. By contrast, 26 players returned with starting experience, but entered the 2010 season with a total of just 196 starts between them.

Defensively, Eastern returns All-America linebacker J.C. Sherritt, who averaged more than 14 tackles per game in 2009 to lead FCS. Eastern also returns three starting defensive linemen, as well as twin brothers Matt and Zach Johnson at safety and linebacker, respectively. Despite their youth a year ago, the Eagles still have to replace three starters in the secondary and had several other key graduation losses.

Running back Taiwan Jones is the top player from the offense returning after a 1,000-yard season helped him earn All-America honors as a sophomore. His talent should also be augmented by the addition of a synthetic turf surface at Woodward Field. The red Sprinturf was installed this summer in time for the 2010 home opener against Montana on Sept. 18.

 

PDF Link to Fact Book: The complete version of the 2010 EWU football fact book may be found at:
http://goeags.com/trads/ewas-factbooks.html.

 

More Eagle Football Links and Headlines:
EWU Football Web Page - http://goeags.com/sports/m-footbl/index
Big Sky Conference Football - http://www.bigskyconf.com/index.aspx?tab=football&path=football
Spokane Spokesman-Review EWU Football Page - http://www.spokesman.com/sections/eagles
The Sports Network (FCS Football) - http://www.sportsnetwork.com/merge/tsnform.aspx?c=sportsnetwork&page=cfoot2/indexpic.htm
NCAA FCS Football - http://www.ncaafootball.com/index.php?s=&url_channel_id=36&change_well_id=1
NCAA Statistics - http://web1.ncaa.org/mfb/mainpage.jsp?year=2010
College Sporting News - http://www.collegesportingnews.com
Championship Subdivision News - http://www.championshipsubdivisionnews.com

RECENT EWU FOOTBALL HEADLINES:
September 6, 2010 - Payton Award Candidate Wins First Award of 2010 Season
September 6, 2010 - Nathan Overbay Signed to Practice Squad by Dolphins
September 2, 2010 - Taiwan Jones Has Big Day, But Eastern Falls to Wolf Pack 49-24
September 1, 2010 - Eagles-Grizzlies Reserved Tickets Sell Out in 23 Minutes
August 27, 2010 - Eagles Open 2010 Season at Powerful Nevada
August 26, 2010 - Radio Show Featuring Baldwin Airs Live From Northern Quest
August 25, 2010 - EWU-PSU to Play for the Dam Cup
August 25, 2010 - Starters Rest as Defense Shines in Final Eastern Scrimmage
August 24, 2010 - Eagles Scrimmage Wednesday on Practice Fields
August 19, 2010 - Sprinturf Crew Works Under the Lights Friday
August 18, 2010 - First Eastern Scrimmage Features Back and Forth Thriller
August 16, 2010 - Eagles 13th in The Sports Network Preseason Poll
August 13, 2010 - Red Turf is Exciting, But Eagles Have Lots of Work Ahead
August 4, 2010 - Vote on a Name as Red Turf Rollout Continues
August 3, 2010 - Red Sprinturf Arrives; Installation Probably Starts Wednesday
August 2, 2010 - Football Practices Begin Aug. 9
July 27, 2010 - Red Sprinturf Set to Arrive Aug. 3
July 26, 2010 - More Preseason Honors for Eagle Trio
July 21, 2010 - Buck Buchanan Watch List Includes Eastern J.C. Sherritt
July 20, 2010 - Eagles Picked to Finish Second Behind Grizzlies
July 19, 2010 - Sherritt is Big Sky’s Choice as Preseason Defensive POW
July 13, 2010 - Taiwan Jones on Walter Payton Watch List
July 12, 2010 - Fox Sports Northwest Airs “Fish & Chip Tournament” Highlights
July 9, 2010 - EWU-Montana Pre-Sale Tickets Available
June 28, 2010 - Eastern Games to Air on 700 ESPN The Ticket
June 24, 2010 - Eastern to Play Central Washington in Seattle on Sept. 11
June 12, 2010 - “Turfbreaking” Begins Excavation Work for Red Turf Project
June 5, 2010 - 2009-10 Awards Presented to Eastern Student-Athletes at “EeeWoos”
May 20, 2010 - With Addition of New Turf, a New Name for Eastern’s Football Field

 

GAME NOTES 

Walter Payton Award Candidate Wins Big Sky Offensive Player of the Week Award: This summer, Eastern junior running back Taiwan Jones, who averaged an impressive 7.5 yards per carry as a sophomore, was named to the initial 2010 Walter Payton Award Watch List by The Sports Network.

He certainly lived up to that honor.

En route to earning Big Sky Conference Offensive Player of the Week honors, Jones had a career-high 322 all-purpose yards (rushing, receiving and returns) in Eastern’s season-opening 49-24 loss at Nevada. His performance included an 82-yard touchdown reception and a non-scoring 74-yard run. Jones rushed 12 times for 145 yards, had another 92 yards on two receptions and 85 yards on four kickoff returns.

His previous career high was 279 yards against Sacramento State on Sept. 26, 2009. He now has seven plays in his career of 71 yards or more, 12 of at least 50 and 23 of at least 32 yards. Five have been for at least 80 yards, including a school-record 96-yard touchdown run versus Idaho State in 2009.

Jones also received honorable mention nationally by College Football Performance Awards and was the team’s offensive player of the week. Other weekly award winners announced by Eastern head coach Beau Baldwin were won by Tyler Jolley (defensive player of the week), Artise Gauldin (offensive player of the week), Cody Humphrey (offensive scout team player of the week) and Alden Gibbs (defensive scout team player of the week).

“It’s almost to a point where I’m not surprised, but he made a few more plays against Nevada that make you marvel at how he can make plays,” praised Baldwin. “Even when things aren’t there he is able to make them. He has a toughness and grit to him -- he bangs it up in there so he’s not just a fast guy. He’s a special football player and obviously the big-play guy in our offense.”

A cornerback as a freshman at Eastern in 2008, Jones scored on an 87-yard run on his first carry as an Eagle running back in 2009. Jones started and ended his season with a 100-yard game, finishing with a total of six for the season to earn first team All-Big Sky Conference honors. He was a third team selection on The Sports Network’s FCS All-America Football Team, and was a third team choice as an all-purpose back on the Associated Press All-America squad.

Jones, who is from Antioch, Calif., and graduated from Deer Valley High School in 2007, finished with 1,213 rushing yards in 2009 to rank as the sixth-most in school history. He ranked in the top 10 in FCS in rushing (ninth, 101.1 per game), scoring (sixth, 9.50 per game) and all-purpose yards per game (second, 195.4). His 2,345 all-purpose yards (rushing, receiving, returns) were the second-most in school history, and his 19 touchdowns and 114 total points both rank fourth.

His talent should also be augmented by the addition of a synthetic turf surface at Woodward Field, which will be re-named Roos Field upon project completion this September. The red turf was installed this summer in time for the 2010 season.

Jones averaged 6.1 yards per carry at home on the grass surface of Woodward Field, but that was boosted to 8.2 in EWU’s other eight games on fields that featured seven artificial surfaces as well as one grass field at Sacramento State with excellent footing.

Jones had a career average of 146.1 all-purpose yards per game to currently rank third in school history, and his 910 kickoff return yards is seventh. His total all-purpose yardage of 2,922 is quickly approaching Eastern’s top 10 list, and by the end of the season he should be on Eastern’s all-time lists for rushing yards, scoring and touchdowns.

The Walter Payton Award is given annually to the top offensive player in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision. Big Sky Conference players have captured the honor six times, most recently by Eastern Washington quarterback Erik Meyer in 2005. Eastern quarterback Matt Nichols finished fourth in the voting as a senior in 2009.

There are 20 players on the current Watch List, including five from the Big Sky Conference. Besides Jones, the list also includes Montana running back Chase Reynolds, Grizzly quarterback Andrew Selle, Northern Arizona quarterback Michael Herrick and Weber State quarterback Cameron Higgins.

This year’s award is being sponsored by Fathead.com. The winner will be announced on the eve of the Division I National Championship game in Frisco, Texas.

 

A QB Six Months Earlier, Minnerly Leads Eagles in Tackles in Opener: A quarterback last March when spring drills began for the Eagles, less than six months later Jeff Minnerly found himself as the team’s leading tackler in Eastern’s 49-24 loss at Nevada on Sept. 2.

He finished the game with eight tackles, including seven unassisted stops. A sophomore who graduated from Ferris High School in Spokane, Wash., in 2008, Minnerly made his first career start at free safety. After earning EWU's Offensive Scout Team Player of the Year while redshirting in 2008, Minnerly completed 4-of-8 passes for six yards in 2009 while serving as the backup to All-American and two-time Big Sky Conference Offensive Player of the Year Matt Nichols.

But he was caught in a logjam of quarterbacks last spring, including Southern Methodist transfer Bo Levi Mitchell. Minnerly’s move to defense took place on April 13, and he had an interception in a scrimmage that very day. He is also EWU’s holder on placekicks and Eastern head coach Beau Baldwin said the decision to move from quarterback was to enable the 6-foot-1, 190-pound sophomore a greater chance to use his athletic ability to contribute to the team.

 “Few players are gifted enough physically and mentally to make a significant move like that,” explained Baldwin. “We thought it would be the best thing for the team and Jeff to make this move, and we feel like he has all the tools to be an excellent safety. He still had a chance to compete for our quarterback position, but he has an even better opportunity to compete and earn playing time at the safety position.”

Minnerly earned first team 4A All-State honors as a quarterback from WashingtonPreps.com, and was the Offensive Most Valuable Player in the Greater Spokane League after throwing for 27 touchdowns and just one interception as a senior. Also known for his scrambling ability, he was MVP for the East when he directed his team to a game-winning, 93-yard drive in the final 3:31 for a 17-14 victory in the 4A/3A East-West All-State Game.

Minnerly was also a starter for the two-time WIAA State 4A Champions in basketball, who were 29-0 both seasons. Ferris was the first 4A school to go unbeaten two consecutive seasons. He was a 4.0 student in high school and was his school's male recipient of the prestigious Greater Spokane League Scholar-Athlete award.

“Jeff is a great competitor,” Baldwin added. “He’s demonstrated his great football skills during agility drills in the winter, as well as his ability as a quarterback to cover ground and move. He’ll bring leadership and intelligence to the safety position, and that will be huge.”

 

Eagles Play Nine of 11 Games on Synthetic Turf: With the addition of its own red Sprinturf surface this fall, Eastern will play nine games on synthetic turf this fall. The only games on grass will be against Weber State on Oct. 2 and Northern Colorado on Oct. 16.

“We’re going to practice on it every day we can,” said Eastern head coach Beau Baldwin. “We’ll be on turf more than we ever have before we play a turf game. It will be an advantage when we get the chance to practice it on it all week heading into a game on turf.”

 

Eagles Feature New Gunslinger: Southern Methodist University transfer Bo Levi Mitchell secured the starting quarterback position with outstanding performances in three spring scrimmages, and was named the starter on April 29 -- barely three weeks into spring drills.

In Eastern’s opener against Nevada, he was a respectable 19-of-35 for 253 yards and two touchdowns.

In three spring scrimmages, he completed 24-of-36 passes (67 percent) for 352 yards and three touchdowns -- all to sophomore Nicholas Edwards -- with just one interception. He helped the White to a 20-0 victory over the Red in EWU’s Spring Game, completing a pass for 61 yards to Greg Herd on the game’s first play before scoring on an 8-yard scamper.

In his lone scrimmage of fall practices, Mitchell was 10-of-16 for 151 yards as he led the offense on two long touchdown drives. He capped a seven-play, 70-yard drive with a 10-yard touchdown run to open the scrimmage, then later ended a five-play, 70-yard drive with a 29-yard touchdown strike to Herd.

Mitchell came to Eastern from Southern Methodist where he started all 19 of the games he played. In his career, the 6-foot-2, 210-pound Mitchell completed 385-of-676 passes (57.0 percent) for 4,590 yards (241.6 per game) with 36 touchdowns and 33 interceptions. He was also 29-1 as a high school starter at Katy (Texas) High School.

“He’s performed extremely well considering he had to learn a new system,” Baldwin said. “He has all the tools to be a great collegiate quarterback at any level. He can make every throw in our offense and do them all well -- and a lot of them are not easy.”

Eastern had entered the spring taking a look at six players competing for the starting quarterback position. Returning letter winners Jeff Minnerly and Scott Burgett were in the mix, as well as 2009 redshirts Nick Gauthier and Anthony Vitto. Minnerly and Burgett are both sophomores, but had only 10 pass attempts between them as redshirt freshmen in 2009. Gauthier is a junior who transferred from Bakersfield College in California, and Vitto is a freshman. The sixth was Greg Panelli, a strong-armed, 6-foot-3, 225-pounder who passed for more than 5,000 yards and 56 touchdowns at Modesto Junior College and twice earned All-Golden Gate Conference honors.

Minnerly, however, was moved to safety during spring practice, and is now Eastern’s starter at free safety. Vitto and Gauthier are the backups behind Mitchell on the depth chart.

In six total scrimmages in the spring and fall, Vitto was 32-of-58 for 352 yards, one touchdown and had two interceptions. Gauthier was 33-of-63 for 304 yards, two TDs and four picks. Burgett and Panelli played in four scrimmages each, and Burgett was 12-of-20 for 214 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. Panelli was 8-of-13 for 91 yards and a touchdown.

 

Other Debuts: Besides quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell, just four other players made their starting debuts as Eagles against Nevada. The three players on offense were freshman redshirts Steven Forgette at left guard and Brandon Murphy at right tackle, as well as junior running back Darriell Beaumonte. On defense, sophomore Jeff Minnerly made his starting debut as a free safety after playing the last two seasons as a quarterback.

Forgette and Murphy are two of several redshirt freshmen who made their first EWU game appearances at Nevada. Most true freshman will redshirt, but running back Mario Brown will play this season and had four rushes for 18 yards and a kickoff return for 20 yards versus Nevada. In two fall scrimmages, he rushed for 86 yards on 21 carries.

A total of 24 players with starting experience (total of 196 starts) returned for the 2010 season. Here are the current number of career starts by Eastern players on the 2010 roster:

Defense (123 starts by 15 players): Matt Johnson 24, J.C. Sherritt 21, Tyler Jolley 17, Renard Williams 15, Zach Johnson 12, Evan Cook 11, David Miles 5, Tyler Washburn 5, Dante Calcote 4, Jesse Hoffman 3, Paul Ena 2, Jeff Minnerly 1, Will Edge 1, Rusty Haehl 1, Grant Williams 1 (includes one start on offense in 2009).

Offense (95 starts by 14 players): Taiwan Jones 13 (includes four on defense in 2008), Chris Powers 13, Nikolai Myers 13, Gabriel Jackson 12, Nicholas Edwards 12, Brice Leahy 11, Matt Martin 6, Brandon Kaufman 6, Ashton Gant 3, Tyler Hart 2, Bo Levi Mitchell 1, Steven Forgette 1, Brandon Murphy 1, Darriell Beaumonte 1.

 

Five Players Selected as Co-Captains: In voting conducted by members of this year’s squad, five players have been selected as EWU’s co-captains for the 2010 season. Senior captains on defense include tackle Tyler Jolley and linebacker J.C. Sherritt, who was also a captain in 2009. The players selected on offense were senior tight end Matt Martin, senior offensive guard Nikolai Myers and junior quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell.

Three of the captains are local products who graduated from state of Washington high schools in 2006 -- Jolley from Spokane’s East Valley High School, Sherritt from Pullman HS and Martin from La Crosse-Washtucna HS. Myers is a 2006 graduate of Ingraham High School in Seattle, and Mitchell is a transfer from Southern Methodist University and a 2008 graduate of Katy, Texas, High School.

 

Buck Buchanan Watch List Includes Eastern J.C. Sherritt: A year after finishing second in the voting, Eastern Washington University senior linebacker J.C. Sherritt has been selected to the 20-player watch list for the 2010 Buck Buchanan Award awarded by The Sports Network to the top defensive player in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision.  He had five tackles and broke-up two passes in Eastern’s opener against Nevada on Sept. 2.

Sherritt, a 2006 graduate of Pullman (Wash.) High School, averaged 14.17 tackles per game (170 total) as a junior in 2009 to lead FCS and catapult him into contention for the Buchanan Award. Arthur Moats from James Madison won the award last year, and in 2008 the winner was Eastern’s Greg Peach (now playing for the Edmonton Eskimos in the Canadian Football League).

Since 2000 when the Big Sky and FCS began keeping statistics as a record, Sherritt’s total was a league record and the seventh-most in FCS, and his average of 14.17 was also a league record and 13th in FCS history. Besides his 170 tackles, Sherritt had 14 tackles for loss, four passes broken up, three forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries and an interception he returned for a touchdown.

Sherritt, who also set school and league records with 24 tackles against Weber State on Oct. 10, 2009, enters his senior season with 256 career tackles. Now ranked eighth in school history, he needs 143 to break the school record of 399 held by Greg Belzer (1997-2000).

Sponsored by Fathead.com, the Buchanan Award is in its 16th season and will be presented on Thursday, Jan. 6 in Frisco, Texas -- the night before the championship game of the FCS Playoffs.

Besides Sherritt, other finalists from 2009 on this year’s watch list include Grambling State senior defensive end Christian Anthony (fourth), Appalachian State senior strong safety Mark LeGree (fifth) and Richmond senior defensive tackle Martin Parker (13th). Two other Big Sky Conference players are on the list -- defensive end Christian Clark of Sacramento State and Montana junior cornerback Trumaine Johnson.

The Buchanan Award Watch List will be updated on Oct. 4 and 25. Ballots will be sent to a panel of approximately 200 sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries after the regular season on Nov. 22.

The Sports Network also presents the Walter Payton and Eddie Robinson awards, which are also sponsored by Fathead. The Payton Award honors the FCS player of the year and the Robinson Award honors the FCS coach of the year. Those two awards, like the Buchanan, will be presented at the national awards banquet.

 

More Players to Watch: A bad snap led to a 10-yard punt for senior punter Cameron Zuber (Chehalis, Wash. - W.F. West HS ’06) on his first effort of the day, but he averaged 48.8 yards on his next four punts in Eastern’s opener against Nevada. He finished with a 41.0 average on five punts, with a long of 51 and one punt downed at the Wolf Pack 4-yard line. Zuber currently has a 40.0 career average, good enough to rank seventh in EWU history. Zuber had been attending EWU since he graduated in 2006 from W.F. West High School in Chehalis, Wash., but 2009 was his first season as an Eagle football player. He originally walked-on in spring 2007 but did not make the team. He then returned in fall 2009 through the recommendation of Eastern tight end Nathan Overbay, who was a 2005 graduate of W.F. West . . . . A total of five players return who earned All-Big Sky Conference honors a year ago, including senior All-America linebacker J.C. Sherritt (Pullman, Wash. - Pullman HS ’06) and junior All-America running back Taiwan Jones (Antioch, Calif.). Both were first team All-Big Sky selections, as was junior defensive tackle Renard Williams (Port Orchard, Wash. - South Kitsap HS ’07). Williams is one of three starters returning on the defensive line, and he finished his sophomore season with 9 1/2 sacks and 35 total tackles. The other two returning All-Big Sky performers are junior center Chris Powers (Black Diamond, Wash. - Tahoma HS ’07) and junior safety Matt Johnson (Tumwater, Wash. - Tumwater HS ’07). Johnson finished his sophomore season with 102 tackles and six interceptions . . . Matt Johnson’s twin brother  Zach Johnson (Tumwater, Wash. - Tumwater HS ’07) is also back after a blood clot in his leg sidelined him for the entire 2009 season. As freshmen in 2008, the brothers combined for 179 tackles to rank 1-2 on the team, with Zach finishing with 96 and a team-high seven passes broken up, and Matt closing the year with 83 tackles and a team-leading four interceptions. Both players earned honorable mention All-Big Sky accolades in 2008.

 

Starting Over . . . Again: Eastern has been down this road before.

Much like 2005 when quarterback Erik Meyer graduated after winning the Walter Payton Award as the top player in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision, Eagle fans are wondering what Eagle Football will be like without 17 Eagle seniors who combined for 350 starts in their careers.

Most notably, the Eagles lose All-American and Big Sky Conference all-time passing leader Matt Nichols, who was the league’s Offensive Player of the Year in both 2007 and 2009. Nichols replaced Meyer at quarterback in 2006 and helped the Eagles to 26 victories and a pair of FCS Playoff berths. In all, Nichols broke 14 school records and six Big Sky Conference marks.

“I still remember after the 2005 season that somebody said to me, ‘we’ll see what you’re like in the post-Erik Meyer era,’” said Eastern head coach Beau Baldwin, who concluded his second season as head coach and sixth overall at EWU. “It was tough for a year for sure, but Matt came along after that and proved to be pretty good. We’ll get the same questions this year.”

Interestingly, neither Meyer nor Nichols locked-up the starting quarterback position during the spring before their starting debuts. Meyer and Skyler Allen were locked in a tight competition in spring 2003, and it wasn’t until the third game of the season that Meyer locked up the starting job. Nichols and Chris Peerboom shared snaps early in the 2006 season, and Peerboom started the team’s opener before Nichols started the final 10 games that season and 45 of the 47 games he played in his career.

 

Ena Moves Back to Linebacker: Sophomore Paul Ena, who played in 2009 as a backup defensive end as a true freshman, started at middle linebacker in the regular season finale against Northern Arizona (11/21/09) and finished with a team-high 16 tackles. He started again in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision Playoffs against Stephen F. Austin (11/28/09) and had 20 tackles to rank as the sixth-most in recorded school history. He finished the season fifth on the team with a total of 63 tackles.

He was Eastern’s fourth player to be on EWU’s depth chart as a starter at middle linebacker in 2009. Returning starter Zach Johnson did not play because of a blood clot that developed following knee surgery during the summer, then Kyle Wilkins suffered a season-ending knee injury in practice before Eastern’s seventh game. Freshman redshirt Tyler Washburn started four games until he also suffered a knee injury.

Ena was a linebacker at Inglemoor High School in Seattle, finishing his senior season in fall 2008 with 162 total tackles (65 solo, 97 assisted) and two sacks. His father Tali Ena was a standout running back at Washington State University and went on to play for the Seattle Seahawks.

 

More Position Changes: A trio of returning Eagle letter winners changed positions in the spring, including defensive lineman-turned-linebacker Paul Ena. Ena took over at that position for the final two games of the 2009 season, and will stay there this season. Others making a move include Jason Harris from linebacker to tight end, Tyler Hart from running back to wide receiver and Grant Williams from fullback/running back to linebacker. In the fall, Daniel Johnson was moved from running back to receiver as well, and Allen Brown and Chandler Gayton shifted to safety from cornerback.

 

Hope Up Front: One of Eastern’s hopes for the 2010 season is that a more experienced defensive unit up front will control the line of scrimmage more and, overall, the defensive side of the ball won’t be on the field as much as they were in 2009. A productive running game will help Eastern toward that goal after Eastern’s quick-strike offense in 2009 helped lead to an average of 76 plays per game for opponents. That was nearly six more per game than EWU, which had a half-minute deficit in time of possession despite out-gaining opponents 462-428 per game.

A year ago, Eastern finished sixth in FCS in turnover margin, averaging 1.25 less turnovers per game than its opponents. That will continue to be an emphasis after Eastern was 6-0 during the regular season when it won the turnover battle, with a 22-4 advantage in those six games.

“We obviously want to expand on that because we thought it was a huge part of our success in 2009,” said Eastern head coach Beau Baldwin.

 

Injury Report: Eastern came out of the Nevada game relatively healthy. A trio of safeties missed that game -- all returning letter winners -- and are out indefinitely, including Billy Lechtenburg (high ankle sprain), Ethen Robinson (knee) and Domonic Shepperd (knee). Players who didn’t take part in spring practices because of injuries include Matt Johnson (shoulder), Robinson (shoulder), Jakob Pugsley (knee) and Jakob Scott (collarbone). All-American Taiwan Jones, who had surgery in December to repair a sports hernia, saw limited action in the spring as he continued to build strength from injuries to both shoulders and a hand during his debut as a running back in 2009. Johnson and Zach Gehring (shoulder) also had surgeries following the season.

 

Nichols and Overbay Released, But Overbay Signed to Practice Squad by Dolphins: Former Eagle tight end Nathan Overbay was signed Sept. 6 to the Miami Dolphins practice squad after getting released by the Denver Broncos. Quarterback Matt Nichols was also released by the Dallas Cowboys on Aug. 19 before the 2010 regular season began.

Both had signed free agent contracts following the conclusion of their careers at EWU in 2009. Nichols completed 10-of-16 passes for 81 yards and two interceptions in two preseason games. Overbay played but did not catch any passes in the preseason for Denver. Another Eagle signed in the offseason was former San Diego Charger Keith Grennan by the Cleveland Browns. But he was cut in July before training camp began.

Eastern’s only current active NFL player is sixth-year player Michael Roos, who started all four preseason games for the Titans. That gives him a total of 143 straight starts as an offensive tackle dating back to his sophomore season at Eastern in 2002. He started 35-straight games at EWU, and the other 108 have come as a Titan (25 preseason games, 80 regular season games, 2 playoff games and the Pro Bowl in February 2009).

Active professionals currently playing in the Canadian Football League are Greg Peach (Edmonton), Shea Emry (Montreal), Ryan Phillips (British Columbia), Luke Fritz (Winnipeg) and Dario Romero (Edmonton).

 

SERIES HISTORY

Series History: Former rivals when both were members of NAIA and the Evergreen Conference, the Eagles and Wildcats have played just six times since 1979 when Eastern left NAIA for NCAA Division II and eventually the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision.

With the first Eastern-Central game taking place in 1921, Eastern leads the all-time series 33-30-4, including a 38-20 win in 1984 in Spokane, a 44-14 triumph in 1999 at Woodward Field and a 38-21 victory in 2001, also in Cheney. In 2003, the Eagles won 48-29 at Woodward, needing to score 27 of the game's final 34 points to overcome a 22-21 deficit. Eastern scored 29 points in the first quarter when the two teams met in 2004 en route to a 39-8 Eastern win, but a youthful Eastern team lost 21-14 to the Wildcats in the last meeting on Sept. 16, 2006, at Woodward Field. Eastern finished just 3-8 that season, but went 9-4, 6-4 and 8-4 in the next three seasons with a pair of playoff berths.

Big, early leads for the Eagles were commonplace since the series resumed in 1984. In the 1984 game played at Albi Stadium, Eastern opened a 35-0 lead in the first 21 1/2 minutes of the game and led 38-7 at halftime. In 1999, Eastern opened a 31-0 lead mid-way through the third quarter. In the 2001 game, Eastern's Lamont Brightful scored three touchdowns in a 15-minute span as Eastern took a 24-7 lead early in the second half. In 2004, Eastern led 36-0, including a 29-point first quarter.

In 1999, the EWU-CWU match-up was Central’s first football game as a member of NCAA Division II. That was the year the Wildcats and most other Northwest small colleges made the jump from NAIA to NCAA Division II or III.

 

Looking Back to 2006 -- Central Washington 21, Eastern Washington 14: Eastern Washington managed just 318 yards of total offense and a fourth-quarter punt return set-up the winning score as the Eagles were upset by Central Washington 21-14 Sept. 16, 2006, at Woodward Field in Cheney, Wash.

The Eagles fell to 0-3 with the loss while Central Washington, a NCAA Division II school, raised its record to 2-1. Central snapped a seven-game losing streak against the Eagles, who hadn’t lost to the Wildcats since 1977. It was EWU’s first 0-3 start since 1983.

Scoreless in the second half, Eastern managed just 318 yards of total offense and couldn’t capitalize on four Central turnovers. Eastern had to punt after two of the CWU miscues and had interceptions of its own after the other two.

"We just couldn't get anything going offensively all night,” said EWU head coach Paul Wulff. “Our defense created a lot of turnovers and gave our offense many opportunities, but we just couldn’t get anything going of offense. So far that has been the story of our offense all year long."

Eastern freshman redshirt quarterback Matt Nichols completed 18-of-34 passes for 213 yards and one touchdown, but also had two interceptions and was sacked three times. Another redshirt freshman, Tony Davis, was Eastern’s leading receiver with six catches for 112 yards.

Eagle senior Ryan Cole rushed for 68 yards on 20 carries and scored a touchdown.

"We have a lot of inexperienced players,” said Wulff. “There are a lot of freshmen out there for us and they aren't executing.  We have a lot of growing up to do.”

Most of the scoring in the game came in the second quarter. Central scored first, but Eastern took a 14-6 lead on Cole’s 9-yard run and a 3-yard touchdown pass from Nichols to freshman redshirt Aaron Boyce. The second touchdown came with just six seconds left in the first half after Davis caught a deflected pass and took the ball 70 yards to the Central 3-yard line.

Central knotted the game in the third quarter, then scored the deciding points with 11:45 left in the game. Wildcat Brandon Kennedy returned a punt 44 yards to set-up a 3-yard touchdown run by quarterback Mike Reilly. Reilly finished the game 19-of-28 for 162 yards and a pair of touchdown passes.

Eastern, however, managed only 89 yards and just five first downs in the second half. Central had 164 of its 339 yards in the final 30 minutes, but Eastern couldn’t capitalize on interceptions by Brandon Keeler, Ira Jarmon and Anthony Dotson.

"Our defense in the second half made some big plays and if our offense could have converted on those plays we would have had a chance to win big,” added Wulff.

Keeler led the Eagles with 11 tackles. Central’s Johnny Lopez rushed for 121 yards on 19 carries and Johnny Spevak had eight catches for 105 yards and a score. Central was 9-of-15 on third down conversions compared to just 4-of-12 for the Eagles.

"Their offense did a great job of converting on third downs and moving the chains,” added Wulff. "Their quarterback, (Mike Reilly), is a very good football player and is the key to Central Washington's team."

 

Looking Back to 2004 - Eastern Washington 39, Central Washington 8: Eastern Washington scored on its first offensive play of the game en route to a 29-point first quarter, and went on to thump Central Washington 39-8 Sept. 18, 2004, at Woodward Field in Cheney, Wash.

The NCAA Division I-AA Eagles scored touchdowns on their first five possessions to record their first victory of the season after two losses to open the year. Central, a NCAA Division II school, fell to 1-3.

"To be quite honest, we executed real well the first part of the game," said Eagle head coach Paul Wulff, whose team had a 255-51 advantage in total offense after the first 15 minutes.  "It just seemed like that first quarter lasted for an hour. It was a long quarter, but we did some awfully good things in the early part of the game."

The Eagles started the game with a flea-flicker play that resulted in a 58-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Erik Meyer to Craig McIntyre. The extra point attempt was botched, but resulted in a two-point conversion on a pass from Chris Peerboom to Skyler Allen.

A 22-yard touchdown run by Reggie Witherspoon capped a 90-yard scoring drive on just seven plays on Eastern's next possession, then Eric Kimble had a 76-yard punt return for a touchdown to make it 22-0.

Eastern added a 71-yard drive at the end of the quarter capped by a 3-yard touchdown run by Darius Washington, then had a 67-yard drive early in the second quarter to open a 36-0 lead. That drive was capped by a 41-yard scoring pass from Meyer to Richmond Sanders.

Meyer completed 13-of-16 passes for 288 yards and two touchdowns. A year earlier against the Wildcats he was 22-of-29 for 304 yards and five touchdowns.

Washington finished with 92 yards rushing on 13 carries, and Raul Vijil led EWU receivers with four catches for 72 yards. Eight different players caught passes, and five different players carried the ball.

Freshman Gregor Smith, seeing the first action of his Eagle career after missing two games with a groin injury, had an interception, sack and three tackles. Ryan Phillips had an interception, Brandon Myers added a sack and Brandon Keeler led the Eagles with nine tackles.

The Eagles finished with 491 yards of total offense, compared to 323 for CWU.

The only negative aspect of Eastern's night was in penalties as the Eagles had 18 for a school-record 203 yards, shattering the previous record of 13 set on Oct. 20, 1983 versus Cal State-Long Beach. The total was just three yards from a Big Sky record.

 

MORE NOTES 

A Taste of the Eagle-Grizzly Rivalry: In a series full of drama, the 2009 meeting between Eastern and Montana was the eighth time in the last 14 meetings that both teams entered the game nationally ranked.

Montana leads the series 25-10-1 with a four-game winning streak dating back to EWU’s 34-20 victory in Missoula in 2005. The Grizzlies have won six of the last seven meetings, including victories the last three times Eastern hosted the Grizzlies at Woodward Field (now Roos Field) -- 31-28 in 2004, 33-17 in 2006 and 19-3 in 2008.

Since winning three-straight over Montana from 1990-92, Eastern has won just three times -- 40-35 in 1997, 30-21 in 2002 and 34-20 in 2005 -- in the last 17 meetings. Overall, Eastern is 4-13-1 in Missoula, 5-11 in home games and 1-1 in games played at neutral sites.

Eastern has not defeated the Grizzlies at Woodward Field since 1991. The 2008 setback was EWU’s sixth-straight loss to Montana in Cheney, however, the Eagles did defeat Montana at Albi Stadium in Spokane in 2002.

The Eagles shared the 2004 and 2005 Big Sky titles with Montana, but the Grizzlies have won or shared every league title since 1998. Eastern is the last Big Sky school other than Montana to win the outright title, with that coming in 1997 when the Eagles advanced to the semifinals of the FCS Playoffs.

Eight recent games in the series that have been decided by margins of 10 points or less are the exclamation points in a rivalry that has seen the Grizzlies come out on top 25 times in 36 meetings. The winner has usually piled up points and yardage by the ton as evidenced by Eastern’s 697 yards of total offense in 1986, 658 yards in 1997 in a 40-35 win, 564 in a 24-23 loss in 2007 and 541 yards by the Eagles in a 34-20 win in Missoula in 2005. In fact, in the last 24 meetings the winning team has averaged 33.6 points. In seven of those 24 games the two teams have combined for at least 70 points, including a 41-34 Grizzly win in Missoula in 2009.

As for suspense, that one’s covered too. In 2009, Eastern knotted the score at 34 with 4:58 to play, only to have the Grizzlies drive for the winning score with 1:18 left in a 41-34 victory. In 2007, Eastern kicked a go-ahead field goal with 2:20 to play before top-ranked Montana kicked the game-winner with 26 seconds to play after converting a fourth-and-10 play. Eastern wide receiver Aaron Boyce had the fourth-best receiving effort in Big Sky Conference history with a school-record 17 catches to earn NCAA Football Championship Subdivision Offensive Player of the Week honors from The Sports Network. His 232 receiving yards were the second-most in school history, and Eagle quarterback Matt Nichols passed for a career-high 451 yards to rank third all-time at EWU.

 In 2004, Montana blocked a 28-yard field goal attempt by the Eagles with 18 seconds remaining as the 23rd-ranked Eagles fell to the fifth-ranked Grizzlies 31-28 in a showdown for first place in front of a Woodward Field record crowd of 10,754. In 2002 at Albi Stadium in Spokane, Eastern beat the No. 1 ranked and unbeaten Grizzlies 30-21, ending Montana’s record-tying winning streak in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision at 24 games. It was the first Big Sky Conference loss for UM head coach Joe Glenn, and snapped Montana’s record winning streaks of 25 Big Sky games in a row and 13 league road games in a row. And in the process, the Eagle victory opened the door for Montana State and Idaho State to share the conference title with the Grizzlies.

Here are the eight matchups in the last 14 seasons when both squads have entered the game nationally ranked:
2009 - #3 Montana 41, #21 Eastern Washington 34 (in Missoula, Mont.)
2008 - #12 Montana 19, #23 Eastern Washington 3 (in Cheney, Wash.)
2005 - #12 Eastern Washington 34, #2 Montana 20 (in Missoula, Mont.)
2004 - #5 Montana 31, #23 Eastern Washington 28 (in Cheney, Wash.)
2001 - #3 Montana 29, #15 Eastern Washington 26 (2 overtimes in Missoula, Mont.)
2000 - #9 Montana 41, #18 Eastern Washington 31 (in Spokane, Wash.)
1997 - #17 Eastern Washington 36, #2 Montana 35 (in Missoula, Mont.)
1996 - #1 Montana 34, #20 Eastern Washington 30 (in Cheney, Wash.)

 

Eagles to Play Cougars in Football in 2012; Huskies in 2011: The Eastern Washington University versus Washington State University football rivalry is separated less by miles than by years.

The Eagles are scheduled to make the short  90-mile trek to Pullman, Wash., on Sept. 8, 2012, to face Washington State University in the first varsity meeting between the two schools in more than 100 years. Eastern lost to the Cougars in 1907 (46-0) and 1908 (73-0), and were 8-10-1 from 1921-46 against WSU’s junior varsity or freshman teams.

Washington State is coached by Paul Wulff, who was 53-40 with three NCAA Football Championship Subdivision Playoff berths as Eastern’s head coach for eight seasons (2000-2007). He spent a total of 15 seasons at EWU as a coach, and several members of his staff are former Eagle coaches.

“We cannot thank (WSU director of athletics) Jim Sterk, (senior associate director of athletics) John Johnson, coach Wulff and (coordinator of football operations) Shawn Deeds for making this possible,” said Eastern athletic director Bill Chaves in January 2010. “It has been over 100 years since these two schools have played football against each other and I know that our fan base and college community will look forward to this opportunity.”

Eastern has never played Washington, but that will change on Sept. 3, 2011, when the Eagles play the Huskies in Seattle. That game was announced on Oct. 6, 2009.

Chaves also said the Eagles are scheduled to play at Idaho -- also located about 90 miles from EWU’s campus -- in Moscow, Idaho, on Sept. 1, 2012.

Eastern was a member of the National Association for Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) for most of its history before becoming a member of FCS in 1984. But despite playing 25 games against NCAA Football Bowl Division members since 1983 -- including four against the Pacific 10 Conference -- the Eagles have not played Washington State or Washington during that time span.

The last time Eastern played Idaho was in 2003 when Eastern won 8-5 in the Kibbie Dome. Eastern is 5-15 all-time against its former Big Sky Conference rival, and 2-3 since the Vandals moved to FBS in 1996.

2011 EWU Tentative Schedule
9/3 - at Washington
9/10 - Open
9/17 - at Montana
9/24 - Montana State
10/1 - Weber State
10/8 - at Northern Arizona
10/15 - Northern Colorado
10/22 - at Sacramento State
10/29 - Portland State
11/5 - at Idaho State
11/12 - at Cal Poly
11/19 - Open

2012 Schedule
9/1 - at Idaho
9/8 - at Washington State
9/15 - Idaho State
9/22 - Sacramento State
9/29 - at Portland State
10/6 - Montana
10/13 - at Montana State
10/20 - at Northern Colorado
10/27 - Northern Arizona
11/3 - Cal Poly
11/10 - at Weber State
11/17 - Open

 

 Eagles Versus The Pacific 10 Conference -- Since the early 1980’s when it began the move to become a member of the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision (in 1984), Eastern is now 7-19 all-time versus Football Bowl Subdivision teams. A 35-17 win over Connecticut on Sept. 8, 2001, snapped a five-game losing streak versus FBS foes. Against the Pacific 10 Conference, EWU is 0-4. Here is Eastern's complete list of games versus FBS members since 1983.

Year - Opponent - Result
1983 - Cal State-Long Beach - W, 20-17
1985 - at Cal State-Long Beach - W, 30-23
1986 - at Cal State-Long Beach - L, 34-35
1990 - at #10 Houston - L, 21-84
1994 - at Utah State - W, 49-31
1996 - at Boise State - W, 27-21
1996 - at Idaho - L, 27-37
1997 - Idaho - W, 24-21
1998 - at Idaho - L, 14-31
1999 - Idaho - L, 21-48
1999 - at Boise State - L, 7-41
2000 - at Oregon State - L, 19-21
2000 - at Boise State - L, 23-41
2001 - at Connecticut - W, 35-17
2002 - at Arizona State - L, 2-38
2003 - at San Diego State - L, 9-19
2003 - at Idaho - W, 8-5
2004 - at Air Force - L, 20-42
2005 - at San Jose State - L, 21-35
2006 - at Oregon State - L, 17-56
2006 - at #6 West Virginia - L, 3-52
2007 - at Brigham Young - L, 7-42
2008 - at #12 Texas Tech - L, 24-49
2008 - at Colorado - L, 24-31
2009 - at #10 California - L, 7-59
2010 - at Nevada - L, 24-49

 

Eagles in the Playoffs: Eastern’s made its seventh appearance in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision Playoffs in 2009 when the 13th-ranked Eagles lost at No. 12 Stephen F. Austin 44-33 in the first round. It was also the fourth berth in a six-year span as EWU’s appearances in 2004 and 2005 were the first time the Eagles had ever made back-to-back appearances. Eastern has now advanced past the first round four times (1985, 1997, 2004, 2007) and has a 5-7 record in six playoff appearances.

In 2007, the Eagles handed second-seeded and No. 3 ranked McNeese State its first loss of the year in a 44-15 first-round victory. Eastern then lost in the quarterfinals at two-time defending champion Appalachian State. In 2004, Eastern defeated No. 1 ranked and top-seeded Southern Illinois 35-31 in the first round and then lost 35-34 to Sam Houston State in the quarterfinal round in EWU’s first-ever playoff game at Woodward Field in Cheney, Wash. In both 2004 and 2007, Eastern entered the playoffs ranked 14th nationally.

Until 2004, Eastern hadn’t appeared in the FCS playoffs since 1997 when the Eagles advanced to the semifinals where it lost to Youngstown State 25-14 at Albi Stadium in Spokane, Wash. Eastern played two early-round games at Albi, defeating Northwestern State 40-10 and Western Kentucky 38-21.

Eastern also participated in the playoffs in 1985 (won at Idaho 42-38 and lost at Northern Iowa 17-14) and 1992 (lost at Northern Iowa 17-14). The school’s only other postseason experience came in 1967 when Eastern advanced to the NAIA Championship game where it lost to Fairmont State 28-21.

Here is a complete list of EWU’s playoff games:
2009 - at Stephen F. Austin - L, 33-44 (First Round)
2007 - at Appalachian State - L, 35-38 (Quarterfinals)
2007 - at McNeese State - W, 44-15 (First Round)
2005 - at Northern Iowa - L, 38-41 (First Round)
2004 - Sam Houston State - L, 34-35 (Quarterfinals/Cheney)
2004 - at Southern Illinois - W, 35-31 (First Round)
1997 - Youngstown State - L, 14-25 (Semifinals/Spokane)
1997 - Western Kentucky - W, 38-21 (Quarterfinals/Spokane)
1997 - Northwestern State - W, 40-10 (First Round/Spokane)
1992 - at Northern Iowa - L, 14-17 (First Round)
1985 - at Northern Iowa - L, 14-17 (Quarterfinals)
1985 - at Idaho - W, 42-38 (First Round)

 

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