Something will have to give when Eastern puts its 6-0 home record against the remarkable 6-0 road record of Illinois State
Eastern Washington Univ. “Eagles”
Illinois State University “Redbirds”
Saturday, Dec. 8, 2012 • 3:05 p.m.
Roos Field (8,600) • Cheney, Wash.
EWU Coach: Beau Baldwin (Central Washington
School Record: 43-18/30-10 Big Sky Conference (5th Season)
Career Record: 53-21 (6th Season -- was 10-3 at CWU in 2007, 6-5 at EWU in 2008, 8-4 at EWU in 2009, 13-2 in 2010, 6-5 in 2011)
2012: 10-2/7-1 Big Sky Conference (co-champ; FCS Playoffs automatic berth)
2011: 6-5/5-3 Big Sky (T-3rd)
Last Game: Eastern 29, Wagner 19 (Dec. 1 in Cheney, Wash.)
TV/Webcast: ESPN3 (internet platform). Talent: Trey Bender & Jay Taylor
Radio: 700-AM ESPN in Spokane. Larry Weir returns for his 22nd season calling the play-by-play, with analysis handled by Paul Sorensen and sideline commentary by Keith Osso. Osso will also serve as host of the Eagle Tailgate Show, starting 1 1/2 hours prior to kickoff.
Internet Radio: www.700espn.com or www.tunein.com
Radio iPhone App: Search for “Spokane Radio” and download app. An app is also available for tunein radio.
Live Stats: http://www.ncaa.com
Weekly Coaches Show: Mondays 6 p.m. at the Q Sports Bar and Restaurant at Northern Quest Resort & Casino. . . 700-AM ESPN, www.700espn.com & via iphone app. (search for “Spokane Radio” and download app). NOTE: No show week of Dec. 10.
The Redbirds will probably not be swayed by seeing lots of red at “The Inferno” this week in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision Playoffs.
The Eastern Washington University football team puts its 6-0 record against the 6-0 road record of Illinois State this Saturday (Dec. 8) at Roos Field in Cheney, Wash. Kickoff on EWU’s red turf is 3:05 p.m. Pacific time in a game broadcast live on ESPN3.
The radio broadcast of this week’s game, featuring Larry Weir, Paul Sorensen and Keith Osso, starts 1 1/2 hours prior to kickoff with the Eagle Tailgate Show. It may be heard on 700-AM ESPN, via the web at www.700espn.com and via iPhone application (search for “700 ESPN” and download the free app). The broadcast is also available via www.tunein.com and tunein’s mobile phone app.
Tickets are now on sale, and cost $20 for premium seating in sections C&D, $15 for sections A/B/E&F, $15 for end zone and $10 for east side seating (behind visitor bench). Tickets may be purchased via www.ticketswest.com or 1-800-325-Seat. Season ticket holders and fans who indicated to the ticket office that they wanted their tickets automatically renewed do not need to call the Eastern ticket office, but will have their tickets left at will-call.
A limited number of free student tickets will be available starting Monday at 10 a.m. at the EWU Bookstore in Cheney. A valid student ID is required to obtain the tickets, which are underwritten by the Associated Students of EWU.
While Eastern advanced in the playoffs with yet another come-from-behind performance – a 29-19 victory over Wagner last Saturday (Dec. 1) -- the Redbirds upset Appalachian State 38-37 in overtime in Boone, N.C. As a result, 9-3 ILS will get to travel West this time to face the 10-2 Eagles. The only losses this season for the Redbirds were home setbacks to Southern Illinois (17-0), Missouri State (24-17) and North Dakota State (38-20).
Eastern finished the regular season ranked fourth in the final regular season Sports Network Top-25 poll, and earned a the No. 2 seed in the playoffs. The Redbirds were ranked 16th in the poll, but were as high as ninth after starting the season 5-0 for the first time since 1967
The Eagles are 6-0 at Roos Field, and are 16-2 at The Inferno since 2010 when the red turf was installed and the stadium was renamed to Roos Field (formerly Woodward Field). Eastern was 8-0 at home during the debut year when EWU won the NCAA Division I title.
The Redbirds are from the Missouri Valley Conference, which includes top-ranked and No. 1 seed North Dakota State. Of their six road wins, three have come versus ranked foes – 35-28 over No. 8 Youngstown State on Oct. 13, 17-10 over No. 14 Indiana State on Nov. 3 and 38-37 versus seventh-seeded Appalachian State last week.
Eastern captured a share of the Big Sky Conference title and the league’s automatic playoff berth with a 7-1 league record. Of Eastern’s seven Big Sky wins this season, six came by a combined margin of 28 points – one by seven points, two six-point wins and a trio by just three points.
In all, Eastern has won six games this season when trailing in the third quarter (Montana, Montana State, Sacramento State, UC Davis, Portland State, Wagner). Since 2010, Eastern has won 11 games when they’ve trailed or been tied in the fourth quarter, including three this season (Montana, Montana State, UC Davis).
On the other side of the coin, the Eagles are only seven points from an unbeaten season, having last-possession chances to pull out wins in both of their losses. Baldwin is enjoying the team’s climb to get back to the NCAA Division I Championship Game in Frisco, Texas, it won in 2010.
“You don’t go to the bottom of Mount Rainier and say you are going to take it one step at a time – you go to climb to the top of it,” he said. “That’s my mindset -- I am going to climb to the top of the mountain, but the question is how are we going to get to the top? It’s the team that takes care of each step. You have your eye on that prize, but you have to understand the process. We talk about 180 minutes (left) and they know the process in those 180 minutes. The next 60 minutes are the most important.”
Eastern is 0-1 all-time against Illinois State, losing 31-14 at Spokane’s Albi Stadium in 1987. The Eagles are 2-8 all-time versus current members of the Missouri Valley Conference, including a 38-31 overtime victory over North Dakota State in Cheney in the quarterfinals of the 2010 Playoffs.
The Redbirds had the top passing offensive in the MVC, with a current average of 253.6 yards per game to rank 25th in FCS. Senior quarterback Matt Brown, who passed for 322 yards and five touchdowns versus Appalachian State, is 22nd nationally with an average of 249.8 yards per game. Illinois State’s offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach is Luke Huard, who is formerly from Puyallup, Wash., and played at North Carolina.
Eastern is ranked ninth in FCS in passing offense (301.2 per game), but Illinois State has the nation’s ninth-best defensive passing efficiency rating (105.7). The Redbirds have intercepted 16 passes to rank fourth nationally, including seven by senior free safety Ben Erickson to rank second in FCS (0.58 per game)
PDF Link to Fact Book
The complete version of the 2012 EWU football fact book may be
More Eagle Football Links and Headlines
EWU Football Web Page - http://goeags.com/sports/m-footbl/index
EWU Football News & Notes - http://www.goeags.com/sports/m-footbl/2012-13/news
EWU Season Outlook - http://www.goeags.com/sports/m-footbl/2012-13/Releases/12fbSEASONOUTLOOK1
Link to Football Ticket & RV Parking Information: http://www.goeags.com/newtickets/tickets.html
Big Sky Conference Football - http://www.bigskyconf.com/index.aspx?tab=football&path=football
Spokane Spokesman-Review EWU Football Page - http://www.spokesman.com/eagles
700 ESPN – http://700espn.com
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/DivisionIFCS.aspx
NCAA Statistics (2012) - http://web1.ncaa.org/mfb/mainpage.jsp?year=2012
NCAA Statistics (2011) - http://web1.ncaa.org/mfb/mainpage.jsp?year=2011
College Sporting News - http://www.collegesportingnews.com
College Sports Journal - http://www.college-sports-journal.com
College Football Performance Awards – http://www.collegefootballperformance.com
* With Eastern’s win against Wagner, the Eagles improved to 10-2 on the season, marking just the third time in school history EWU has eclipsed the 10-win mark. Eastern finished the 2010 National Championship season at 13-2, and the 1997 season at 12-2. Besides 1997 when it entered the postseason 10-1, the only other times Eastern has won nine games in the regular season came in 2010 (9-2 before finishing 13-2) and 1985 (9-2 before finishing 9-3). Since becoming a member of FCS in 1984, Eastern has started the season 5-1 in 1997, 1996 and 1985. However, the only time the Eagles have gone 6-1 until this season came in 1997 when the Eagles were 12-1 before losing to Youngstown State 25-14 in the semifinals of the FCS Playoffs.
* Eastern has now won its opener in the FCS Playoffs six times (1985, 1997, 2004, 2007, 2010, 2012) and has a 10-7 record in nine playoff appearances (1985, 1992, 1997, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2012). Only 15 teams have made more playoff appearances than the Eagles. The 2012 season will mark EWU’s sixth appearance in the quarterfinals. Eastern has reached the semifinals twice before (1997, 2010), but 2010 was EWU’s first appearance in the championship game.
* Eastern is making its ninth appearance in the playoffs, ranking the Eagles among a select group of 20 schools with at least that many berths. The other appearances for the Eagles came in 1985, 1992, 1997, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2009 and 2010. With a 6-5 record during an injury-ravaged season in 2011, Eastern fell a victory shy of making its first back-to-back-to-back appearances.
* This is EWU’s sixth playoff berth in a nine-year span, ranking the Eagles as one of only five schools among 121 in FCS to accomplish that feat. The only other four teams to have qualified six of the last nine years are Appalachian State (2005-06-07-08-09-10-11-12), Montana (2004-05-06-07-08-09-11), New Hampshire (2004-05-06-07-08-09-10-11-12) and Southern Illinois (2004-05-06-07-08-09).
* The Eagles received the No. 2 seed in the playoffs, with North Dakota State getting the top seed, followed by EWU, Montana State, Old Dominion and Georgia Southern. The top five teams are seeded 1-5, and are guaranteed home games as long as they are the higher-seeded team in their match-up and have met NCAA guidelines to host. In 2010, Eastern was the No. 5 seed, and because of higher-seeded teams losing in the early rounds, hosted three games at Roos Field.
* This week’s quarterfinal winners will advance to the semifinals on Dec. 14-15. The championship game is Jan. 5 in Frisco, Texas, at 10 a.m. Pacific time on ESPN2.
* In November and beyond, Eastern is 12-0 since 2010 and 21-3 since 2007. Since 2010, EWU is 24-2 after Oct. 1, including an 11-0 mark two years ago, 6-1 last year and 7-1 this season. The lone losses were a 43-26 home loss in 2011 versus Portland State and a 30-27 road setback at Southern Utah on Oct. 27, 2012.
* The initial FCS All-America team for the 2012 season was released by College Sports Madness (collegesportsmadness.com), and three Eagles were named to the team. Junior wide receiver Brandon Kaufman was selected to the first team, senior defensive end Jerry Ceja was selected to the second team and senior kicker Jimmy Pavel was picked for the third team. A year ago, there were nine All-America teams selected, including those by the American Football Coaches Association (to be announced on Dec. 4), The Sports Network, Associated Press and the Walter Camp Football Foundation. Others are College Sporting News, Phil Steele Publications, College Sports Journal and Beyond Sports College Network.
* Eastern head coach Beau Baldwin and freshman quarterback Vernon Adams are finalists for national awards presented by The Sports Network in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision. Baldwin is one of 20 coaches on the voting list for the Eddie Robinson Award, given to the national coach of the year in FCS. Adams is one of 20 players on the ballot for the Jerry Rice Award, given to the top freshman in FCS. Adams ranks eighth in FCS in passing efficiency (152.38), and is the only freshman in the top 24 of the rankings. In nine games as a starter and one as a sub, he has completed 62.4 percent of his passes for 1,586 yards, 14 touchdowns and six interceptions. The Jerry Rice Award, in its second year, is named for legendary wide receiver Jerry Rice, who was a two-time first-team All-American in the FCS (then Division I-AA) at Mississippi Valley State. The Robinson award is named for Eddie Robinson, the College Football Hall of Fame coach, who retired in 1997 after 56 years at Grambling State University. Both awards – as well as the Walter Payton Award (top player in FCS) and the Buck Buchanan Award (top defensive player) -- was voted on by a national panel of about 160 sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries. The awards will be presented at the FCS Awards Banquet and Presentation on Dec. 17 in Philadelphia.
* A total of 22 Eastern football players were selected to the All-Big Sky Conference team as selected by the league’s head coaches. The first team selections include junior wide receiver Brandon Kaufman, junior cornerback T.J. Lee senior kicker Jimmy Pavel, inside linebacker Ronnie Hamlin and senior offensive tackle Will Post.
* After directing Eastern to a 9-2 record and its sixth Big Sky Conference title in school history, head coach Beau Baldwin has been selected as the league’s co-Coach of the Year in a vote of the Big Sky’s fellow head coaches. In receiving the honor for the first time, Baldwin is the fourth coach in school history to win the award. His predecessor, Paul Wulff, won in 2001, 2004 and 2005. Current Idaho State head coach Mike Kramer won in 1997 and Dick Zornes was Eastern’s first in 1992. The Eagles won league titles and advanced to the playoffs in all of those years except for 2001. Baldwin is also one of 20 coaches on the voting list for the Eddie Robinson Award, given to the national coach of the year in FCS.
* Besides sending the seniors out with a victory on Senior Day on Nov. 10, Eastern finished the regular season 5-0 at home at Roos Field. The Eagles then improved to 6-0 at “The Inferno” with a 29-19 victory over Wagner in the second round of the FCS Playoffs. Since the red Sprinturf surface was installed in 2010, Eastern is now 16-2 at “The Inferno,” with one of the losses a 43-26 setback to PSU on Senior Day last season. Eastern’s Nov. 3 game versus 16th-ranked Cal Poly was sold out, with an announced attendance of 8,644 – the seventh-largest non-Montana crowd in Roos Field history.
* Eastern transfer quarterback Kyle Padron passed for 327 yards and a touchdown in EWU’s 29-19 victory over Wagner on Dec. 1. He directed EWU on touchdown drives of 80 and 75 yards in the first half, then scoring marches of 75 and 73 in the second half as the Eagles rallied from a 19-14 deficit. Making just his third start of the season and first since EWU’s second game of the season, Padron completed 26-of-36 (72.2 percent) of his passes with one touchdown. No stranger to big games, Padron came off the bench to lead the Eagles to a 41-34 win at Portland State on Nov. 17 and clinch a share of the Big Sky title for EWU. As a result, Padron was Root Sports Offensive Player of the Week as selected by the league, joining Vernon Adams as a winner of that award in the 2012 season. Eastern scored the winning points on an eight-play, 94-yard drive to break a 34-all tie with 1:25 remaining in a steady downpour. Padron passed for 380 yards and a pair of touchdowns as Eastern rallied from season-high deficits of 13 and 12 points. A junior who transferred this year from Southern Methodist, he completed 26-of-38 passes for 381 yards and two touchdowns, and also rushed for one. He led Eastern on touchdown drives of 42, 62, 76, 49 and 78 yards prior to the game-winning 94-yard drive, in which he was 5-of-5 for 73 yards. Padron is the only Eastern player in school history to be MVP in a bowl game, let alone play in one. In 2009 while at SMU, he was MVP of the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl after passing for a school-record 460 yards and two TDs in SMU's 45-10 win over Nevada. Current Portland State head coach Nigel Burton was the defensive coordinator for Nevada in that game. For the season, Padron has started three times and come off the bench in six games. He has completed 59.9 percent of his passes for a team-leading 2,016 yards, 11 touchdowns and five interceptions. Until a third-quarter interception versus Wagner on Dec. 1, Padron hadn’t thrown an interception in 121 attempts dating back to Sept. 22 against Weber State.
* Nearing the Big Sky record for single season reception yards, junior Brandon Kaufman has 75 catches (seventh in school history) for 1,444 yards (second in school history), and 10 touchdowns thus far. With an average of 19.3 yards per catch (ninth in school history), he is just nine yards for EWU’s single season school record for reception yards of 1,453 set by Eric Kimble in 2004. He is only 81 yards from the Big Sky record of 1,525 yards set by Tim Toone in 2008. The first team All-Big Sky performer had career highs of 11 catches for 201 yards (fifth-most in school history) versus Southern Utah on Oct. 27. He had 10 catches for 174 yards against Wagner on Dec. 1, and before that had nine catches for 161 yards against Portland State on Nov. 17 in which he had two sensational, highlight-reel catches after tipped balls. Kaufman has gone over the 100-yard mark nine times this season and 17 times in his career. The 2010 All-American leads the Big Sky and ranks fifth in FCS in receiving yards per game (120.3). Because of hand and knee injuries requiring surgery, Kaufman received an injury redshirt in the 2011 season after playing in the first four games of the year. Kaufman, who is from Denver, Colo., and is a 2009 graduate of Heritage HS, now has 203 career catches (fifth in school history) for 3,325 yards (third) and 27 touchdowns (fourth).
* Since returning to the lineup on Nov. 3, senior linebacker Zach Johnson has 31 tackles, two interceptions and a pair of pass deflections in four games. He is coming off an 11-tackle performance in EWU’s 29-19 win over Wagner – the 14th of his career with at least 10 stops. One game earlier, he had a pair of interceptions in the fourth quarter to help preserve Eastern’s come-from-behind 41-34 victory over Portland State on Nov. 17. The second team All-Big Sky Conference performer also had three tackles in the game, which clinched a share of the Big Sky title for the Eagles. His first interception came with 12:01 to play, and led to a seven-play, 49-yard touchdown drive that gave the Eagles a 34-26 lead. After EWU took a 41-34 lead with a TD with 1:25 to play, Johnson had his second interception of the day on a third-down play from the PSU 48-yard line. One game earlier, he finished with a team-leading 10 tackles in EWU’s 31-28 victory over UC Davis on Nov. 10. He has now started every game he has played in his Eastern career – 37 – and has 45 tackles in seven games played this year. He has played sparingly this season with a hamstring injury, but returned against Cal Poly on Nov. 3 from a five-game absence to finish with seven tackles, a pass broken up and a key third down tackle in the third quarter with the Mustangs at the EWU 1-yard line. Johnson, a sixth-year senior who has missed 24 total games in his career because of injuries, now has 305 tackles, five interceptions, 14 passes broken up and 6 1/2 sacks as an Eagle. He is just eight tackles from moving into seventh all-time at Eastern, and is 36 away from the total of 341 by his twin brother Matt Johnson, who now plays for the Dallas Cowboys.
* A second team All-Big Sky selection, starting defensive end Jerry Ceja had two sacks and two quarterback hurries in EWU’s 29-19 win over Wagner. He is seventh in FCS and is third in the league with an average of 0.92 sacks per game (total of 11). He has 40 total tackles this season with 14 for loss, and also has six quarterback hurries, two passes broken up and a pair of forced fumbles to help him equal the school record with six in his career. He is sixth all-time in career sacks with 22 1/2. Ceja had two sacks versus Wagner on Dec. 1, Montana State on Oct. 13, North Dakota on Oct. 6 and Weber State on Sept. 22. As a team, the Eagles are seventh in the league and 31st nationally with an average of 2.42 per game.
* An incredible scramble and touchdown throw by Vernon Adams against Sacramento State on Oct. 20 was a finalist for the GEICO Play of the Year. For eight weeks, fans voted for the GEICO Play of the Year, and Adams won the Play of the Year voting for Week 8. The eight weekly winners were shown on GEICO Best of College Football 2012 on CBS on Nov. 23. The winner of the GEICO Play of the Year was a one-handed catch by Ohio State’s Devin Smith.
* Senior Jimmy Pavel, a first team All-Big Sky pick, made a 45-yard field goal against UC Davis on Nov. 10 to equal EWU’s single season record of 16 set last year by Mike Jarrett. But because of Eastern’s offensive efficiency in ending drives with nine touchdowns, Pavel hasn’t attempted a field goal in his last two games. The Eagles have 17 as a team for the season, breaking the previous team record of 16 set last year. An impressive 16-of-17 on the season, Pavel ranks 18th in FCS with an average of 1.33 field goals per game. His .941 percentage is the best in FCS among kickers with at least 11 attempts this season. Pavel made kicks of 45 and 23 yards against Southern Utah on Oct. 27 to improve to 13-of-13 on the year, but missed his first attempt of the season on a 37-yarder that would have broken a 27-27 tie with 2:51 left in the game. Pavel, who handled kickoff duties a year ago, took over this season for Mike Jarrett, who made a school-record 16 field goals in just 18 attempts as a senior in 2011. Pavel missed his only attempt in the 2011 season, a 52-yarder. Thus, including a field goal Kevin Miller made earlier this season, the Eagles have made 33 of 37 field goal attempts the last two seasons for 89.2 percent. Pavel has also assumed part of EWU’s punting duties the last three games, and currently has a 42.4 average on 12 punts with three downed inside the opponent 20-yard line.
* Illinois State’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach has a familiar name in the state of Washington – Luke Huard. He played at North Carolina while his brothers, Brock and Damon, played at Washington. Formerly from Puyallup, Wash., Luke is in his fourth season at Illinois State after spending his initial years as a coach in Washington. He was a graduate assistant at the University of Washington, coached at Washington High School in Tacoma, then spent four seasons as head coach at Interlake High School in Bellevue. Illinois State halfbacks/tight ends coach Sheldon Cross also coached at Interlake and graduated from Stadium High School in Tacoma.
* In this week’s Jeff Sagarin computer ratings, Eastern is sixth overall in FCS (86th overall). North Dakota State is first among FCS schools, followed by Sam Houston State, Montana State (77th overall), South Dakota State, Georgia Southern and Eastern. Illinois State is ranked 11th (95th overall). Other highly-ranked Big Sky schools include Cal Poly (7/89), Northern Arizona (18/112), Southern Utah (28/136), North Dakota (33/144) Sacramento State (35/148), Montana (37/151), UC Davis (42/159) and Portland State (44/161). The Eagles were a season-high second nationally among FCS schools at one point this season.
* The Eagles are 0-1 all-time versus ILS, falling 31-14 on Oct. 17, 1987. Eastern was coached by Dick Zornes, and the Eagles started the game with a school-record 100-yard interception return for a touchdown by Dominic Corr. However, ISU scored the next 31 points before EWU scored its second and final touchdown with 1:25 left in the third quarter. Eastern quarterbacks were sacked six times, leading to a minus 26 yards of rushing for EWU. Illinois State out-gained EWU in total offense 462-214 and had 87 plays to EWU’s 58. Eastern’s Paul Farrell had 18 tackles, equaling the second-most in school history (now ninth).
* Eastern is 2-8 all-time versus current members of the Missouri Valley Conference, including six games in the FCS Playoffs. Eastern is 0-5 against Northern Iowa – all on the road – including playoff losses in 1985 (17-14), 1992 (17-14) and 2005 (41-38). Eastern also lost to Youngstown State 25-14 in the 1997 semifinals at Albi Stadium in Spokane. Both of EWU’s wins over the MVC have come in the playoffs. Eastern upset No. 1 ranked and top-seeded Southern Illinois 35-31 in the first round in 2004, and defeated North Dakota State 38-31 in overtime in Cheney on EWU’s way to the 2010 NCAA Division I title. Eastern’s other game versus the MVC was last year’s 30-17 loss at South Dakota, which is a newcomer to the MVC in 2012.
Eagles in the Playoffs
• Seeded fifth, Eastern won four-straight games to win the 2010 NCAA Division I National Championship. The top-ranked Eagles defeated #9 Southeast Missouri State (37-17), #25 North Dakota State (38-31 in overtime) and defending champion #10 Villanova (41-31) in three home playoff games, then defeated #5 Delaware (20-19) in the championship game on Jan. 7, 2011, in Frisco, Texas. Quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell was selected as the game’s Most Outstanding Player after throwing three touchdowns passes in the final 16:48 as EWU rallied from a 19-0 deficit.
* In 2009, the 13th-ranked Eagles lost at No. 12 Stephen F. Austin 44-33 in the first round. 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 Roos Field (formerly 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. Eastern has won three previous national titles, but none in head-to-head competition or at the NCAA Division I level. Eastern won the 1977 NAIA wrestling title, the 1982 NCAA Division II men’s cross country championship and the 1970 Class II national championship for women’s collegiate gymnastics programs.
Here is a complete list of EWU’s FCS playoff games (EWU
received a first-round bye in 2010, the first year the playoffs
were expanded to 20 teams):
2012 – Wagner – W, 29-19 (Second Round/Cheney)
2010 - Delaware - W, 20-19 (Championship/Frisco, Texas)
2010 - Villanova - W, 41-31 (Semifinals/Cheney)
2010 - North Dakota State - W, 38-31 in OT (Quarterfinals/Cheney)
2010 - Southeast Missouri State - W, 37-17 (Second Round/Cheney)
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)
The Senior Class
* Eastern’s roster includes 16 seniors, with 10 starting
at least four games this season for the Eagles (three on offense,
seven on defense). The list also includes the team’s starting
long-snapper and kicker. Those 16 seniors have combined for 584
games worth of experience, and have 275 starts between them. A
total of 12 of them will finish their careers as four-year
letterwinners. More importantly, they have helped Eastern win
25-of-32 Big Sky Conference games and 37 overall the last four
seasons, and 14 were a part of EWU’s NCAA Division I
Championship in 2010. The senior class represents the first
recruiting class for head coach Beau Baldwin in February of 2008.
Below is the complete list with the number of games played/started
listed at the end of each player’s roster information.
13 - Scott Burgett - Linebacker - 6-2 - 210 - Sr. - 3L* - Peoria, Ariz. (Centennial HS ’08) - 5/0
^91 - Jerry Ceja – Defensive End - 6-3 - 220 - Sr. - 3L - Aurora, Colo. (Grandview HS ’09) - 46/12
^56 - Evan Cook – Defensive Tackle - 6-3 - 280 - Sr. - 3L* - Federal Way, Wash. (Todd Beamer HS ’08) - 38/26
^11 - Nicholas Edwards – Wide Receiver - 6-3 - 200 - Sr. - 3L* - Tacoma, Wash. (Foss HS ’08) - 48/44
^44 - Paul Ena – Defensive End - 6-2 - 240 - Sr. - 3L - Kenmore, Wash. (Inglemoor HS ’09) - 49/35
43 - Rusty Haehl - Linebacker - 5-11 - 215 - Sr. - 3L* - Bellevue, Wash. (Bellevue HS ’08) - 44/1
^3 - Greg Herd – Wide Receiver - 6-3 - 200 - Sr. - 3L - Tacoma, Wash. (Steilacoom HS ’09) - 45/20
^10 - Zach Johnson - Linebacker - 6-1 - 225 - Sr. - 3L* - Tumwater, Wash. (Tumwater HS ’07) – 37/37
32 - Chase King - Linebacker - 6-1 - 215 - Sr. - 1L* - Federal Way, Wash. (Decatur HS ’08) - 22/0
^7 - Jeff Minnerly – Safety - 6-1 - 200 - Sr. - 3L* - Spokane, Wash. (Ferris HS ’08) - 38/22
27 - McKenzie Murphy - Safety - 5-9 - 190 - Sr. - TR* - Spokane, Wash. (Ferris HS ’08 / Western Washington) - 10/0
99 - Jimmy Pavel – Kicker - 5-11 - 195 - Sr. - 1L* - Molalla, Ore. (Central Catholic HS ’08 / Boise State) – 22
^76 - Will Post – Offensive Tackle - 6-6 - 310 - Sr. - 3L* - Portland, Ore. (Southridge HS ’08) - 43/34
54 - Jake Potter – Long Snapper - 6-2 - 200 - Sr. - 2L* - Kennewick, Wash. (Kamiakin HS ’08) – 41
^55 - Tyler Washburn - Linebacker - 6-1 - 230 - Sr. - 3L* - Sammamish, Wash. (Skyline HS ’08) – 49/34
^18 - Grant Williams - Linebacker - 6-1 - 225 - Sr. - 3L* - Puyallup, Wash. (Rogers HS ’08) – 48/10
^Has started at least four games this season.
More Game Notes
* Big Sky Conference Coach of the Year Beau Baldwin has now been a part of four Big Sky Conference championships as either an Eastern assistant coach (2004, 2005) or head coach (2010, 2012). In addition, he has been a part of five FCS Playoff berths – two as an assistant (2004, 2005) and three in four seasons as head coach (2009, 2010, 2012). He coached in his 100th Eastern game when the Eagles rallied to beat Montana 32-26. He is now 43-18 in four-plus seasons as a head coach (2008-12), and was 25-22 as EWU assistant coach for four seasons (2003-06), for a collective total of 68-40. His .750 winning percentage in Big Sky Conference games (30-10) is the best-ever by an Eastern head coach and currently ranks eighth in the 50-year history of the Big Sky Conference. His .705 percentage overall is 11th.
* The Eagles are now second in the league and ninth in FCS in passing offense (301.2 per game), as quarterbacks Vernon Adams and Kyle Padron are each averaging at least 189 yards of total offense per game. Padron, who started the three games and has played six others as a sub, has completed 59.9 percent of his passes for a team-leading 2,016 yards, 11 TDs and five interceptions, and ranks 31st in FCS in passing yards per game (224.0). Adams ranks ninth in FCS in passing efficiency (152.38), and is the only freshman in the top 24 of the rankings. In nine games as a starter and one as a sub, he has completed 62.4 percent of his passes for 1,586 yards, 14 touchdowns and six interceptions. Adams has rushed for 308 yards and is averaging 189.4 yards of total offense per game, and Padron has 64 rushing and averages 231.1 yards of offense. The Eagles had a season-best 542 total yards versus Cal Poly on Nov. 3 and are now fourth in the Big Sky and 21st in FCS in total offense (432.3). Eastern is also 22nd in passing efficiency (143.3) and 28th in scoring offense (31.6).
* The Eagles, an early leader in the Big Sky Conference in scoring defense, are now second in the league. They have allowed 23.0 points per game, which ranks 42nd in FCS.
* Eastern is now 57th in FCS in rushing defense (159.1), having given up only 336 rushing yards total in its first three games and just 70 versus Montana State. Eastern is also 68th in total defense (383.6). Before Montana rushed for 407 yards against EWU on Sept. 29, the Eagles ranked 25th in FCS and third in the league in rushing defense (112.0 yards per game). A year ago, Eastern was 101st out of 120 FCS schools in total defense (411.9) and 110th in rushing defense (213.2).
* Freshman Shaquille Hill, who had a 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown against North Dakota on Sept. 6, ranks 34th in FCS with an average of 24.1 yards per kickoff return. He earned honorable mention All-Big Sky Conference honors. As a team, Eastern is 27th in FCS with a 22.1 average.
* Eastern has perhaps the top wide receiver trio in all of FCS, with three players who have all earned All-America accolades and have 1,000-yard seasons in their careers -- Nicholas Edwards, Greg Herd and Brandon Kaufman. They have combined for 133 games worth of experience (98 starts), and have collective totals of 573 catches for 8,133 yards and 75 touchdowns. Edwards and Herd are seniors and Kaufman is a junior after he received an injury redshirt in 2011. Junior Ashton Clark, who had a career-high 11 catches versus Southern Utah on Oct. 27, has 76 catches for 921 yards and seven touchdowns in his career.
* The Eagles have a quartet of linebackers who have combined for 157 games of experience (101 starts) in their careers, with a collective total of 908 tackles. Zach Johnson (37 games played/37 starts) has 305 tackles, Tyler Washburn (49/34) has 247, Ronnie Hamlin (23/20) has 202 and Grant Williams (48/10) has 154. In addition, sophomore Cody McCarthy (17/5, 77 tackles) has seen significant action for EWU since last season.
* Eastern’s running game is much-improved in 2012, with the Eagles ranking 83rd in FCS with an average of 131.1 yards per game. A year ago, Eastern ranked 112th out of 120 FCS teams with an average of 79.0 per game. Only once last year did Eastern have more than 139 yards rushing in a single game and EWU already has performances of 290 (North Dakota), 254 (Cal Poly), 206 (Weber State) and 162 (Idaho). The 290 yards versus UND are Eastern’s most since it had 307 versus Montana-Western in 2007, and the most versus an FCS opponent since running for 295 against Weber State in 2004.
* Eastern, Montana State and Cal Poly all finished 7-1 in the Big Sky Conference to share the league title. The Eagles won the tiebreaker to determine the automatic berth in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision Playoffs. Montana State and EWU both defeated Sacramento State, and Cal Poly lost to Sac State, thus eliminating Cal Poly from the tie. EWU won the automatic berth because of its head-to-head win over MSU, but EWU also defeated Cal Poly in a non-conference game that wasn’t utilized in the tiebreaker.
* Eastern ranked fourth in the final regular season Sports Network NCAA Football Championship Subdivision Top 25 poll, with fellow Big Sky co-leaders MSU (2nd), Cal Poly (12th) and NAU (20th) also ranking in the top 25. Illinois State ranked 16th, but was as high as ninth after its first 5-0 start since 1967. After losing 30-27 to Southern Utah on Oct. 27, Eastern fell from first to seventh. Previously, a 27-24 victory over then second-ranked Montana State on Oct. 13 catapulted the Eagles from sixth to the top spot for two weeks. It’s the third-straight year Eastern has been ranked No. 1 at one point in the season. Eastern ended the 2010 regular season with its first No. 1 ranking in school history, and remained in that position after winning the NCAA Division I Championship. The Eagles were also ranked first in the 2011 preseason poll, as well as after the Eagles narrowly lost its opener last season at Washington, 30-27. The Eagles were also No. 1 for two weeks in the coaches poll and in rankings released by College Sports Journal and College Sports Madness.
* In the final regular season coaches poll, the Eagles moved up one spot to fourth, after ranking No. 5, No. 6, No. 8 and No. 1 the previous four weeks. Other Big Sky Conference schools in the coaches top 25 included Montana State (2nd), Cal Poly (12th) and Northern Arizona (19th). Illinois State was ranked 15th.
* This is the first time in school history all Eastern games have been played on artificial surfaces. Eastern played on grass just once in 2010 (Weber State) and 2011 (Cal Poly). Prior to having red Sprinturf installed in 2010, Eastern’s Roos Field (formerly Woodward Field) was a grass surface.
* Eastern led the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision in passing offense in 2011, averaging 368.5 yards per game. In Beau Baldwin’s previous four years as Eastern’s head coach, the Eagles have ranked in the top 10 in FCS in passing offense three times and total offense twice. In EWU’s last eight seasons (1994-2011), including seven with Baldwin on the coaching staff, EWU has ranked in the top 10 in passing six times and total offense on five occasions.
* Eastern’s fourth quarter magic dating back to 2010 is alive and well. In the last three seasons (2010-12), the Eagles have had 11 victories when they’ve trailed or been tied in the final stanza, and that doesn’t include a 41-34 victory over Portland State on Nov. 17 when EWU rallied from season-high deficits of 13 (first half) and 12 points (second half). In the next game versus Wagner, Eastern trailed by five heading into the final play of the third quarter before winning 29-19. The latest fourth quarter comeback came on Nov. 10 when EWU trailed by 11 at halftime and four entering the final quarter, but rallied to beat UC Davis 31-28. Vernon Adams scored the go-ahead points with 8:13 left in the game, then David Gaylord blocked a field goal with 41 ticks of the clock remaining to preserve EWU’s victory. In a 27-24 victory over second-ranked Montana State on Oct. 13, the sixth-ranked Eagles trailed 17-13 in the fourth quarter before scoring two non-offensive touchdowns within a span of 59 seconds. The Eagles blocked a punt (Dylan Zylstra) and recovered it for a touchdown (Evan Day), then returned an interception for a score (Jordan Tonani). On Sept. 29, Eastern scored two touchdowns in the final 2:19 as the No. 7 Eagles rallied for a 32-26 victory over the 21st-ranked Montana Grizzlies. A year ago, a touchdown pass by wide receiver Greg Herd sparked Eastern to scores on four consecutive plays (two touchdowns and two conversions) in the second and third overtimes as the Eagles prevailed 53-51 over Cal Poly on Nov. 12, 2011. Eastern sent the game into overtime with a 10-play, 80-yard drive to score with 1:51 to play. Just two games earlier, Eastern rallied from a 15-point deficit to defeat Sacramento State 42-35 in overtime Oct. 22, 2011, at Hornet Stadium. The victory kept EWU perfect in 11 tries versus the Hornets in Sacramento. In 2010, Eastern was no stranger to narrow victories, with six victories when trailing in the fourth quarter. In fact, nine of its 13 wins during the national championship season were nail-biters -- the Eagles trailed or were tied in the fourth quarter of six of them, in one they trailed in the third quarter and in the other two they were scoreless in the final stanza. Included was a 20-19 victory over Delaware in the national championship game when the Eagles rallied from a 19-0 deficit to score three touchdowns in the final 16:48.
* For the second-straight year, a pass in the end zone in the final seconds against a Pac-12 Conference opponent didn’t result in an Eagle touchdown, and the Eagles fell to Washington State 24-20 Sept. 8 at Martin Stadium in Pullman, Wash. A 12-play, 99 yard drive pulled Eastern to within three with 2:17 to play on the second of two Kyle Padron to Brandon Kaufman touchdown passes on the day. Eastern got the ball back with 1:29 left and converted a pair of fourth-down conversions, but Padron, who finished with 379 yards passing, had his final desperation pass batted away in the end zone. Eastern out-gained WSU in total offense 469-355. A sell-out crowd of 33,598 witnessed the game, only the third time the two teams have met and the first time since 1908. A year ago, in a 30-27 loss to Washington in Seattle, a pass into the end zone intended for Kaufman was intercepted by the Huskies with 29 ticks left on the clock.
* Since current Tennessee Titan Michael Roos became an offensive lineman as a sophomore at Eastern Washington University in 2002, he started every football game he played from 2002-12 as a collegian or professional until an appendicitis attack and subsequent surgery ended his streak on Oct. 28. Here’s the math: 35 starts at EWU (3 seasons, 2002-04) + 34 preseason NFL Games (8 seasons, 2005-12) + 119 regular season NFL Games (7 1/2 seasons, 2005-11) + 2 NFL Playoff Games (2007 & 2008) +1 NFL Pro Bowl Game (February 2009) = 191-Straight Starts (through 10/21/12)
More Player Notes
* Junior cornerback T.J. Lee has piled up some impressive statistics this season, ranking second on the team with 75 tackles. The two-time first team All-Big Sky selection also has a team-leading nine passes broken up, 2 1/2 sacks, seven total tackles for loss, an interception, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. Versus Portland State on Nov. 17, he had eight tackles (one for loss) and broke-up three passes. He had nine tackles and a sack versus Southern Utah on Oct. 27, and eight tackles, a pass broken up and a forced fumble on a sack that he also recovered versus Weber State on Sept. 22. One game earlier against Washington State, he had six tackles and an interception, as the Eagle defense pitched a shutout in the second half and kept the Eagles in the game. His interception in the fourth quarter came at the Eastern 7-yard line and helped thwart one of two potential scoring drives for the Cougars late in the game. A first team All-Big Sky selection a year ago, Lee now has 134 tackles, three interceptions, 12 passes broken up and 2 1/2 sacks in his 31-game career (17 starts).
* First team All-Big Sky linebacker Ronnie Hamlin has 117 tackles this season to rank 10th in school history, and his average of 9.75 per game ranks 27th in FCS and third in the Big Sky. He has had four performances of at least 11 tackles, including 15 in Eastern’s 27-24 win at Big Sky co-champion Montana State on Oct. 13. He also had a key interception in that game to earn Root Sports Defensive Player of the Week as selected by the Big Sky and national FCS recognition as one of four College Sporting News National All Stars. Hamlin was also honored by the Big Sky as player of the week after finishing with eight tackles and a pass broken up in a season-opening 20-3 victory over Idaho. A 20-game starter for the Eagles, Hamlin has 192 tackles already in his 23-game EWU career. After having his first two seasons (2009 and 2010) wiped out because of knee injuries, Hamlin will eventually apply to the NCAA to receive his sixth year. In anticipation of that appeal, he will be listed as a junior again on EWU’s roster next season.
* Senior offensive tackle Will Post has started every game at right offensive tackle in 2012, with a total of 34 career starts in 43 games played. The first team All-Big Sky selection allowed just one sack in the regular season (opponents had a total of 24) and consistently grades out in the high 80’s and low 90's according to offensive line coach Aaron Best. Eastern ranks second in the league and ninth in the FCS in passing offense (301.2 per game). The Eagles had a season-best 542 total yards versus Cal Poly and are now fourth in the Big Sky and 21st in FCS in total offense (432.3). Eastern is also 22nd in passing efficiency (143.3) and 28th in scoring offense (31.6).
* Junior Allen Brown is third on the team with 73 tackles this season to help him earn second team All-Big Sky honors. He is also second on the team with seven passes broken up to go along with a pair of forced fumbles. He has started 24 of the 27 games he has played in his career, with totals of 163 tackles, two interceptions and 12 passes broken up.
* A part of Eastern’s Ferris High School connection in the secondary, redshirt freshman Jordan Tonani has made his mark as an injury replacement for safety Jeff Minnerly, who suffered a broken collarbone against Montana on Sept. 29. An honorable mention All-Big Sky pick, Tonani finished with seven tackles, his third interception of the season and a pass broken up in EWU’s 31-28 victory over UC Davis on Nov. 10. One game earlier, he had a pick and eight tackles versus Cal Poly, earning College Sports Madness Big Sky Defensive Player of the Week accolades. On Oct. 13, with EWU clinging to a 20-17 lead over Montana State, Tonani stepped in front of a MSU receiver on an out route for an interception he returned 21 yards for a touchdown with 11:15 to play, becoming the winning points in a 27-24 victory over the second-ranked Bobcats. He also had eight tackles, and as a result, was selected as the College Sports Madness National FCS Defensive Player of the Week, as well as their same honor for the Big Sky Conference. One game earlier in his first collegiate start, Tonani had a team-leading 11 tackles as the Eagles held North Dakota scoreless in the second half of a 55-17 win. Entering the game, UND had 37 plays of 20 or more yards on offense this season, and EWU’s goal was to hold North Dakota to three or less. The Eagles did better than that, holding UND to just one – a 24-yard pass play in the third quarter after EWU had already opened a 34-17 lead. Interestingly, Tonani and Minnerly are from the same high school in Spokane, Wash. Tonani graduated from Ferris in 2011; Minnerly graduated in 2008, along with EWU backup safety McKenzie Murphy. Murphy broke his thumb against North Dakota, and despite wearing a padded cast, had an interception Oct. 27 against Southern Utah after missing the Montana State and Sacramento State games. Minnerly, who returned to start against UC Davis on Nov. 10, was also Eastern’s leading tackler in his first career start, finishing with eight tackles in a 49-24 loss at Nevada on Sept. 2, 2010.
* A quartet of Eagle seniors have been selected as Eastern’s co-captains for the 2012 season. They include defensive end Paul Ena, linebacker Zach Johnson, wide receiver Nicholas Edwards and offensive tackle Will Post. Johnson was a senior captain last year before an injury cut short his season, but he was granted a sixth year by the NCAA to complete four years of eligibility. Featured on the school’s schedule poster and in other publications, all four suffered injuries this season. Injuries to Edwards (knee) and Ena (hand) caused them to miss the first games of their careers, and Johnson (hamstring) is a sixth-year senior who has now missed 24 games because of an injury-plagued career. Post (high ankle sprain) was injured in practice the week of the North Dakota game, but was able to start versus UND.
* Eastern senior safety Jeff Minnerly has “three-peated” on the Capital One Academic All-District VIII squad, joining teammates Ashton Miller and Jordan Talley on the team selected by members of the College Sports Information Directors Association (CoSIDA). Minnerly currently has a 3.78 grade point average with a double major in finance and electrical engineering. Miller, a junior offensive center, has a 3.66 GPA and is majoring in management. Talley is a sophomore running back, and is a pre-medicine major with a 3.49 GPA. Eastern football players have now been honored 56 times since 1989 on the All-District VIII squad, and seven players have gone on to win nine Academic All-America honors. The District VIII university division includes all NCAA Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) and Bowl Subdivision (FBS) teams from nine western states, including Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Washington.
All-Big Sky Team
* Returning to his 2010 form after a pair of injuries sidelined him a year ago, junior wide receiver Brandon Kaufman headlines a group of 22 Eastern Washington University football players who have been selected to the All-Big Sky Conference team as selected by the league’s head coaches. Kaufman, Eastern’s nominee as the league’s Big Sky Offensive Player of the Year, was a unanimous choice on the first team. He was an injury redshirt in the 2011 season following a spectacular 2010 season when he earned All-America and first team All-Big Sky honors in helping lead EWU to the NCAA Division I Championship.
* Kaufman was joined on the first team by junior cornerback T.J. Lee, a repeat first team selection from 2011. The others on the first team this season were senior kicker Jimmy Pavel, inside linebacker Ronnie Hamlin and senior offensive tackle Will Post, who earned honorable mention in 2011.
* Second team selections included sixth-year outside linebacker Zach Johnson, who was a second team choice in 2010 and honorable mention as a freshman in 2008. Junior offensive guard Steven Forgette, an honorable mention selection a year ago, also earned second team honors this season, as well as senior defensive end Jerry Ceja and safety Allen Brown.
* Earning honorable mention on offense were junior running back Demitrius Bronson, junior center Ashton Miller and senior wide receivers Nicholas Edwards and Greg Herd. Edwards was a first team choice last season, and Herd earned second-team All-BSC honors in 2011. Seven players on defense earned honorable mention, including senior defensive end Paul Ena, who was a repeat selection from a year ago. Also on the squad were senior inside linebacker Tyler Washburn, senior outside linebacker Grant Williams, junior defensive tackle Andru Pulu, junior cornerback Ronald Baines, sophomore defensive tackle Dylan Zylstra and redshirt freshman safety Jordan Tonani. Also selected to the honorable mention list was senior special teams standout Chase King and redshirt freshman return specialist Shaquille Hill.
* Starting running back Jordan Talley (concussions) has missed seven total games this season, and is questionable for the Illinois State game. Backup offensive tackle T.J. Boatright (knee) missed five games and is questionable this week. A concussion suffered by backup safety McKenzie Murphy kept him from playing versus Portland State on Nov. 17, but is expected back for the playoffs. Senior safety Jeff Minnerly suffered a fractured collarbone against Montana, but returned to start on Senior Day against UC Davis on Nov. 10. Linebacker Zach Johnson (hamstring) returned against Cal Poly and has kept his streak of starting every game he’s played alive (now 37). He played in just EWU’s first defensive series against Weber State before he had to sit out the rest of the game, and missed five full games (total of 24 in his career). Starting defensive tackle Andru Pulu (ankle) and starting tight end Zack Gehring (shoulder) missed the Southern Utah game because of injuries suffered against Sacramento State, but returned to play versus Cal Poly. Linebacker Cody McCarthy also played versus the Mustangs after missing the Sacramento State and Southern Utah games with a knee injury. He originally hurt the knee in practice and missed the Montana game, but returned to play the next week versus North Dakota. J.C. Agen, who started in 2011 after Johnson was lost for the season with a knee injury, will be out the rest of the season. He missed the first two EWU games with a torn pectoral muscle, but made his season debut in limited action versus Weber State. However, he missed every game since for an injury that required surgery. Murphy also broke his thumb against North Dakota and subsequently had surgery, and missed the Montana State and Sacramento State games. He returned to play against Southern Utah, and had an interception despite wearing a padded cast. Minnerly and Murphy are both 2008 graduates of Ferris High School in Spokane, Wash. Starting offensive tackle Clay DeBord missed the Sacramento State game with an ankle injury, but returned to play at Southern Utah. Wide receiver Nicholas Edwards returned to play against Montana State after missing two games because of a knee sprain on a pass reception on EWU’s first offensive play of the game at Weber State. Defensive end Paul Ena returned to start versus Montana after a wrist injury in the first half against Washington State sidelined him for the rest of that game, as well as Weber State. Ena, the lone returning starter on the defensive line, started against Idaho on Aug. 30 despite suffering an elbow injury in practice about a week earlier. Wide receiver Greg Herd played against Weber State after suffering a concussion versus Washington State, but probably wouldn’t have played if Eastern would have had a game on Sept. 15. Running back Demitrius Bronson missed the first two games with an injured hamstring, but returned to carry the ball twice versus Weber State.
* Nearing the Big Sky record for single season reception yards, junior Brandon Kaufman has 75 catches (seventh in school history) for 1,444 yards (second in school history), and 10 touchdowns thus far. With an average of 19.3 yards per catch (ninth in school history), he is just nine yards for EWU’s single season school record for reception yards of 1,453 set by Eric Kimble in 2004. He is only 81 yards from the Big Sky record of 1,525 yards set by Tim Toone in 2008. Kaufman has 203 catches in his career to rank fifth in school history, and now is chasing teammate Nicholas Edwards (213) for fourth. Kaufman is third all-time in EWU history with 3,325 reception yards, and is now just five yards away from second (Aaron Boyce, 3,330, 2006-09). Kaufman’s 27 touchdown catches are fourth, two away from the No. 3 position of 29 held by Aaron Boyce (2006-09) and five behind the No. 2 position held by teammate Nicholas Edwards (32).
* Senior Jimmy Pavel made a 45-yard field goal against UC Davis on Nov. 10 to equal EWU’s single season record of 16 set last year by Mike Jarrett. The field goal also gives EWU 17 for the season, breaking the previous team record of 16 set last year. Pavel hasn’t attempted a field goal in his last three games, as EWU has scored nine touchdowns in those two outings.
* Linebacker Ronnie Hamlin has 117 tackles this season to rank 10th in school history, and is just nine tackles from the No. 9 position (126 by Derek Strey in 1996). Hamlin’s 200 career tackles are 31st and are just eight from the No. 24 position.
* Senior defensive end Jerry Ceja ranks sixth in school history with 11 sacks this season, needing just a half-sack to move into fifth and 1 1/2 to move into fourth. He is also sixth all-time in career sacks with 22 1/2, and is 2 1/2 from moving into fifth. Ceja also has six forced fumbles in his career, equaling the school record shared by Matt Johnson (2008-11), Renard Williams (2008-11), J.C. Sherritt (2007-10) and Chris Scott (1994-97).
* Other 2012 performances ranking on EWU’s single season statistical leaders lists include Vernon Adams in passing efficiency (eighth, 152.38); Jake Miller in punting average (third, 43.2); Shaquille Hill in kickoff returns (fourth, 29) and kickoff return yards (eighth, 700);
* Wide receiver Nicholas Edwards is now fifth all-time in Eastern history in receiving yards with 2,622, and is seventh in points scored with 196. His 213 career catches ranks third in school history (No. 2 has 222) and his 32 TD receptions are second (the record is 46).
* Senior wide receiver Greg Herd has moved onto EWU’s all-time leaders list for career catches. His 157 grabs ranks ninth, and is nine receptions from eighth. His catches have been good for 2,186 yards to rank 12th in school history, and he also has 16 touchdowns (unranked).
* The 43.7 career punting average of sophomore Jake Miller currently ranks ahead of the school record. Jesse Nicassio had a 42.3 average in two seasons from 2002-03. Miller had a school-record 74-yard punt versus Washington State on Sept. 8, breaking the previous record of 71 set in 2006 by Ryan Donckers.
* Linebacker Zach Johnson has 305 tackles in his career to rank eighth all-time at Eastern. He is just eight tackles from moving into seventh all-time at Eastern, and is 36 away from the total of 341 by his twin brother Matt Johnson, who now plays for the Dallas Cowboys.
* Senior linebacker Tyler Washburn is now in the top 20 in career tackles in Eastern history, currently ranking 12th with 247. He is four from the No. 11 position.
* Defensive end Paul Ena recovered a fumble and returned it 40 yards against Montana State on Oct. 13, equaling the school record for career fumble recoveries. He shares the school record of eight with Nicholas Ramos (2006-09) and Steve Mattson (1994-97). Ramos, in fact, was at the MSU game and was a guest on EWU’s pre-game radio show.
Recent Game Summary
* Junior Kyle Padron passed for 327 yards and junior Brandon Kaufman caught 10 passes for 174 yards on Dec. 1 to defeat Wagner 29-19 in a second-round game in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision Playoffs at Roos Field in Cheney, Wash.
* Eastern overcame two third-quarter turnovers that cost EWU its hard-earned 14-6 halftime lead. Padron led Eastern on TD drives of 80 and 75 yards in the first half, then scoring marches of 75 and 73 in the second half as EWU snapped the nine-game winning streak of the Seahawks. Eastern lost the turnover battle 3-0, but out-gained Wagner 411-296 in total offense.
* Padron, making just his third start of the season and first since EWU’s second game of the season, completed 26-of-36 passes. Besides Kaufman’s 10 grabs, senior Greg Herd had five catches for 51 yards and senior Nicholas Edwards had five grabs for 48 yards.
* Running back Demitrius Bronson added 76 yards rushing and a pair of short touchdown runs. Senior linebacker Zach Johnson led the defense with 11 tackles and a pass broken up, and junior linebacker Ronnie Hamlin added 10 tackles and broke-up a pair of passes.
* Read more at: http://www.goeags.com/sports/m-footbl/2012-13/Releases/12fbDec1WagnerRecap
Quoting Coach Beau Baldwin
On Wagner Win: “I’m really proud of our guys. I’m probably most proud of the fact that we weathered a much early storm. When I say early, I mean early in the third quarter. It was a type of storm in terms of things not going right. A lot of times you can find you are on the wrong end of the ballgame because of it. Our defense showed resilience. The biggest difference was our red zone defense -- we had a blocked field goal early and then we were able to hold them to field goals rather than touchdowns. They did what they do. I set my mind to the fact that we were going to win the turnover battle, but instead we lost it 3-0. Our guys were able to weather that storm. You don’t win too many games when you lose the turnover battle 3-0. They are a very disciplined team and a very physical team. They just understand exactly who they are and do a great job of it. It was a battle for our guys all night long.”
On Defense in Red Zone: “It gets tighter down there and we were tackling well in that area of the field. I’d have to watch film, but I thought our tackling took another step up from where it has been the last couple weeks against a quarterback that has some shiftiness, and the running back is a very good player. The tackling got a lot better down there. I just thought we understood our concepts and what we were doing. Everyone was doing their jobs. You saw the quarterback have to hang on to the ball, hang on to the ball. We were doing a good job of not letting guys get behind him, and not opening up big zones and forcing him to really hang on to it. We did a good job of taking away his options down there when they did get to throwing it.”
On Kyle Padron Starting and Playing Entire Game: “It was a combination of a lot of things. A combination of not just his performance at Portland State, but probably his performance in practice this second half of the year. That is not taking anything away from Vernon (Adams). Their numbers in the last five games are almost identical. It’s unbelievable to see how close the numbers are between the both of them. That does make it tricky sometimes. I felt like Kyle had a lot of momentum coming off the Portland State game. Considering the conditions, he performed well anyway, but he performed incredibly well against a very good Portland State defense in bad conditions. I felt like some of that momentum could continue in this ballgame. I had plans to play Vernon -- I really did. I think we only had four possessions in the first half so it was halftime before you knew it. When you get into the second half, sometimes you wonder -- he’s been standing around since three o’clock. Would I be putting Vernon in a tough spot when our team is in a tough spot? We will see going forward. The whole year -- but especially the second half of the year – both have improved their game so much. People also forget Kyle never went through a spring ball. Some of the things he is doing in practice and maturing within our offense are at a higher level than Bo Levi Mitchell or other guys who had spring ball as the start of our camp. It was like Kyle was still in a fall camp mode as we got into the season, so he’s still figuring out the offense, figuring out the nuances, feeling it out. You were able to see him progressively get better throughout the year.”
On Kaufman Standing Out: “It is a combination of things. In all fairness, I think all receivers came up with big catches at different times -- especially late in that ballgame. There were big catches made all over the field. I think sometimes it was not necessarily a matchup because they played almost all zone coverage. They were sometimes clouding his side of the zone, but it’s the other guys too that help open him up. We were not necessarily calling things out for Brandon -- it was other guys screaming down the field grabbing safeties. It was Nick (Edwards) grabbing the safety on the one Brandon juggled going towards the scoreboard, when he caught it on the two or three where before we took the lead by three. It’s a group effort to open up a guy like Brandon. You go back and watch film you will see Nick grabbed a safety. Like a lot of our guys -- and you’ve seen it over the years -- in those crunch time moments Brandon just has it -- he has it. The lights are on and it’s time to make a huge play. He will make it time in and time out.”
On Team Responding: “We just respond - that’s our word. We talk about it all the time -- respond, respond, respond. We don’t jerk react to things. We don’t panic, we don’t think. We just think in terms of responding. You always have to be ready to respond. I think if you are doing a bunch of screaming and yelling on Saturday, you have not done a good job during the week -- that’s my opinion. You have to prepare, not just with the plays and that, but also mentally on how they are going to handle those types of situations because they are coming. I put signs up in the locker room -- adversity is coming this weekend. It is about how are we going to handle it, and our team continues to handle it in a mature fashion. It doesn’t mean you are going to win every one. I thought we handled the adversity in both our losses well too -- against Southern Utah and WSU. We came up short, but you never felt like we were panicking or we were out of it. It does not mean you are automatically going to win – you’ve heard me say it a hundred times. The defense could have felt like, ‘woe is me what is going on we have to go back on the field.’ But instead, they felt like, ‘let’s go -- this is an opportunity. This is an opportunity to make a big play and have a sudden change.’ One of our mottos is no victims. Basically by that we are never going to act like a victim no matter what happened and no matter who is injured.”
On Help of the Crowd: “I thank the fans and I thank the student support. We felt it. I don’t pay much attention because we are so locked in, but today at different times I heard it, especially late when they were trying to throw the ball and when they were trying to get snaps. We appreciate it so much. They have done an amazing job of supporting us all year. Believe me, we feed off that. We feed off that big-time. You try to tell your guys it doesn’t matter if there are a thousand fans and to just play our game, but we are human. Those players are human. When you have that type of atmosphere and that type of support it means a lot. So thank you to the fans and students because it played a part. It always does.”
On Where Last Touchdown Ranks as The Best Drives He’s Seen: “It’s up there. We had a 95 yard drive at Portland State when it was tied at the end, so that one was huge. We have had a couple other drives that have obviously been important -- a couple drives late in the Montana game which were huge. It was just a combination of things that happened in that drive. You go back and you will find a number of guys just made different plays. You start with Ashton Clark making a huge play to set up third-and-two instead of third-and-15. We had a couple of other third down catches and throws obviously by Kyle. Runs mixed in here and there. That was a huge drive and we really felt like if we could get up by two scores in the fourth quarter that would give us a heck of an opportunity.”
On Seeing Former Players Back: “It means (a lot) to me that those guys (come back). That’s what we talk about. All our seniors want this to go as long as we can take it. When their time is done they are always going to be Eagles. I tell those guys that. You are always Eagles, and I want you back at practice. Bo Levi (Mitchell) was out at our practice the other day and brought them up and talked to the team a little bit. I love that. That’s what it’s about. It’s not just about the four or five years you are here. It’s not. It’s about a lifetime. When you are able to see those guys, guys get excited. Our players and coaches have so much respect for those guys and what they did. They are a big reason and part of why we are where we are today with everything -- facilities, success and all that stuff. You just appreciate what they did to help put us where we are today. They are definitely part of that. Our players see those guys when they come back and they want to show them something special. It means something to us.”
On Happiness For Kyle: “I’m happy for him, no question. I’ve had respect for him like no other player I’ve had, and I’ve had a lot of respect for a lot of players. I admire how he handles situations that don’t go right, and not just his own. If you watch him in games like Montana State where things were not always going right, you see how he handles the situations even when he is not directly involved. It just says so much about his character. So yes, I am extremely happy for him. He deserves it. He’s a great person -- we have a ton of those. At the same time I put my arm around Vernon Adams. You guys have all watched him when he is not in the ballgame. You are talking about a player who is really into the game. You are talking about a guy who is patting the defense on the back. We even talked about the potential of him playing in the game and he didn’t. That’s not always easy. His feeling was ‘we won coach’ -- he’s excited about that. The situation with those two, their stats and being where we are with 10 wins, it couldn’t happen if it wasn’t for their attitudes and who they are as people. They’ve made that work. I think it’s made us better when it’s all said and done.”
On Time of Possession: “I think you can get caught up in time of possession based on when they snap the football. I get more concerned with total plays and if they are running a ton more plays. If we snap it with 20 seconds on the clock and they snap it with one second on the clock, and we both run 70 plays in a game, their time of possession is still going to look like a lot more. The stat is really if the defense is on the field the same amount as the offense. I am more concerned with our third down percentage, sustaining drives and at the end, what is the total number of plays. That to me is a bigger indicator of whether or not you are controlling it or not. We try to go up-tempo at times and run a little bit faster. I am trying to run more plays than they do and that in turn keeps our defense off the field. Sometimes your defense is able to get a little bit of a break when they are going at such a slow tempo. They may be burning some clock and time of possession, but you are getting 40 seconds between each snap.”
On Similarities to 2010 Team: “It’s different. In a weird way there are certain parts of this season that are more gratifying because two years ago we went out saying we were the hunters. This year, we felt like we were being hunted – we were getting everyone’s best shot. That’s part of it and we embrace that – we want that. That’s the type of program we want to be. I do not do too much comparing very often, but there were parts of this season that were even more gratifying than the first time. They are each their own.”
On Home Field Advantage: “It helps a ton to know you are not traveling. It helps to know that every game will be at home as long as you take care of your end of things. It is fun for the fans and we have such amazing fan support. We are close to setting records for attendance and the student support. It gives them an opportunity to keep watching games without spending an arm and a leg to try to go across the country. We are excited for that and we are going to need them. We appreciate so much the boost and lift they have given us. It’s different around here than it’s been in the past, and a big part of that is just our fan base.”
On Winning Close Games: “Every time you go through more of those moments you keep building a belief that it’s going to be okay. No matter what just happened we are going to move forward, we are going to pick each other up and we are going to stay together. We have had that type of motto all the time around here. I think more often than not it breeds success.”
On Being in the Spotlight After National Title: “They love it, but they are pretty low-key though. You see very few of them wearing their ring from two years ago. They appreciate it and love it, but at the same time, they are just about going day-to-day and enjoying the process. We don’t get caught up in it -- if we do good things and the attention comes our way that’s great, but that is not the most important thing.”
On All-Big Sky Team: “A lot of our players were recognized, which is exciting and deserving because I know how much hard work they put in. I know how many great players there are in this conference, so to be recognized at any level says a lot about the success they had on the field. And adding four more teams to the league makes it that much bigger of an award. It’s an honor to be nominated, let alone win first team honors like five of our players received.”
On Winning Big Sky Title: “It feels great, knowing that a lot of work goes into this. Winning the Big Sky title is what we talk about. It’s a big deal, and it’s not easy to do. You lose track of that because of what happened two years ago (in winning the national title). (Winning the Big Sky title) was still was the goal for us and it’s tough to do, but we were able to get it done. They are rare. We want to make them the norm, but it’s not easy. When you win a Big Sky title it’s special and you feel good about it.”
On Winning on Senior Day: “It means a lot and these players have helped pave our way. I joked earlier that every one of those guys played on a grass field which was sometimes sloppy with a small scoreboard – that wasn’t that long ago. Now, all of a sudden, look where we are. Every young player needs to recognize that the benefits they are reaping – including the red turf -- were all paved by those seniors. They did some great things in ‘09 and helped us spring into ’10 with the red turf, a national championship and now the new videoboard. I am so appreciative of that group for what they have done to help us and help our program. They are a group of great young men. On the field they have been amazing, and hopefully we can see how far we can go with them. They’ve been amazing off the field too, carrying a 3.0 grade point average as a team. They have paved the way for what it is to be an Eastern football player. And this Senior Day means a little bit more because it was our first signing class. They are all special, but this one just that much more.”
Quoting Quarterback Kyle Padron
On His First Playoff Win: “I didn’t think we would have as much adversity to overcome, but you have to hand it to those guys from Wagner. They were very intense up front. We tried to dominate the line of scrimmage and they made that tough on us. That is a great team. They’ve won nine games in a row, and they definitely made it tough on us. It was a fun game to play.”
On Starting Assignment: “I found out about halfway through the week. Whether it’s me or Vernon or whoever is out there, our job is to get the ball to our teammates. Getting yards after the catch, they make our jobs a little easier.”
On Sharing Starting Role With Vernon Adams: “Vernon had a hot hand for a while, and this season, we have gone back and forth just competing. I think next week will be the same thing. We are going to compete early in the week in practice, and whoever has the hot hand in practice will end up starting. Whether it’s him or me, it doesn’t matter. As long as we’re 1-0 at the end of each weekend, we’re moving on.”
On Starting First Game Since September: “I think everyone is a competitor, and wants to be the guy out there. I wanted to be out there all season, but the cards weren’t dealt to me that way, but you have to fight through it. It’s a team game. There’s not just one person who’s great on the team, and I understand that. It’s an exciting time right now, and that was a great team win.”
On Key To Rebounding From Adversity in Third Quarter: “I think it started with the defense forcing them (Wagner) to kick field goals. I threw a pick to start the half, and Wagner had the ball on the 15, and being able to hold them to three points right there was huge. We made one big play to Brandon, and that kind of jump-started our offense in the second half. In the fourth quarter, we took control of the game by just pounding the ball with (Demitrius) Bronson and (Quincy) Forte.”
On Late 15-Play Drive: “(Beau Baldwin) said let’s go score. It wasn’t anything magical, just ‘let’s go score.’ That is how Coach Baldwin is. He is definitely a fiery kind of guy, but in that moment, he just said ‘let’s put six points on the board.’ Our receivers made some good plays, and Quincy and Bronson had some huge runs at that time. We were scrambling and tossing the ball five yards, but whatever it was, we were keeping the clock moving.”
On Interception: “We obviously thought it was going to be defensive pass interference, but the safety rolled to a cover three away from Nick. I thought Nick was going to run right by the guy but he pushed him and widened him into Brandon. I threw the ball right to No. 1 and they [referees] said Brandon pushed off or something. I’m not really sure what happened, but I tried to hit the seam and it just wasn’t there.”
On If He Came to Eastern to Win Playoff Games: “Well there were a few other reasons, but yes. I was able to watch this playoff system in 2010, and through my relationship with Bo (Levi Mitchell), I saw what he was able to accomplish and the fire in these guys when I came on my visit. Definitely playing home games on the Inferno in playoff time is exciting. We are hopefully going to have a wider margin of victory on the red turf sometime soon, but we’ll keep taking the small wins.”
On Bo Levi Mitchell Being at Game: “I actually talked to him during the game. I threw a ball to Zach Gehring to the half-yard line, and I saw Bo over there. Then we were able to punch it in, and he was excited and fired up for us. I have been spending time with him a little bit throughout the week, but it’s always great to see an old friend.”
On Motto Changing from 240 Minutes to 180 Minutes: “We just talked about that in the locker room. It’s one game at a time. And after next weekend, we want to be 1-0 again.”
On Advantage At Home: “The Inferno speaks for itself. Our fans have been great all year. There is excitement around campus and everything is buzzing. It will be fun to get out there and play in front of our fans.”
On Difference Between Playoffs and Bowl System: “When you become bowl eligible, you only have one game left. In the playoffs, the better we play the better chances we have of playing an extra game. You have to be 1-0 every week. That’s what it comes down to.”
On Winning Championship After Transferring From SMU: “Being at a Conference USA school, I never really had a chance to think about that. Coming here, that was definitely one of the goals. My teammates have made that a dream for me with the way we’ve played all year. It’s an honor to be a part of this team and we are excited about our chances.”
On Winning Games From Behind: “We would have liked to blow out a few more teams than we did. It’s the way we are I guess -- we play close games. We find a way to win those games, which is pretty huge in the playoffs. You need a lot of character and a lot of drive. You can’t get too high with the highs and too low with the lows. It shows a lot about our team to win those close games.”
On Comparison to 2010 Team: “We have been hearing that a lot throughout the entire season, but we are trying to make our own identity. We are not trying to be the 2010 team at all. What they were able to do was pretty special and obviously that’s the ultimate goal, but we are going to be our own team and have our own identity.”
Quoting Wide Receiver Brandon Kaufman
On Highlight-Reel Catch: “It definitely should not have been as hard as it was. Kyle put it in a good spot, and I was just looking at the ball, but right at the last second, the defender got his hand in there. I was extremely lucky and fortunate to make a play like that. I couldn’t have asked for a better ball.”
On Finding Openings in Wagner Defense: “We knew that the middle of the field would be open more. They try to stop the run with a real big body in the middle, so we knew there would be some holes. After those first two deep balls that we couldn’t connect on, we decided we were going to settle down and hit our short stuff. And then when opportunities were there, we would go hit some long ones. The middle of the field was wide open all day, so once we figured that out, we tried to attack it.”
On Whether Worried About Wagner’s Third Quarter Momentum: “No, not worried at all. But you definitely have to have a sense of urgency. We’ve been in that situation before, especially the last game we were in against Portland State. We banged it out for four-straight quarters, and there were a lot of ups and downs. But you can’t get down on yourself for what happened in the last play or last series. We really put our defense in a tough spot in the third quarter, but once we settled down, we just focused on getting the ball past the 50 and as far down field as we could. There was no panic, especially on the defensive side. They just came out and stopped them after all that adversity.”
On Similarities to 2010 Team: “The similarities would be in the leadership we have on this team, and also, everyone feeling responsible for their own role. Everyone takes so much onto themselves individually. Everyone feels like they need to perform individually to help the team. Everyone just plays with grit and toughness and it’s exciting to watch other people play because of that.”
On Magic at Roos Field: “As far as home field, that crowd is great. We have the music playing and that crowd is just going crazy. They’re so into it and so passionate. I think for us just keeping calm and not letting anything affect us either way. Not getting too excited and not getting too down. I think that is the magic because a lot of teams don’t have that ability, and we do.”
Quoting Defensive End Jerry Ceja
On Advantage of Playing Close Games: “I think being in those close games helps us deal with adversity because every game is different. You can’t go in thinking that you are going to win, but you go into each game taking it one play at a time. And whatever happens, happens. There are going to be ups and downs in every game, and having those close games all season long helps us in the long run.”
On Being Down This Road Before: “For some of the veteran players, it does help give us the right mindset to figure out how to get back to the national championship. But at the same time, it is not going to be the same route as last time. We are going to have to take a whole new approach to this playoff.”
On Playing a Home Game Instead of Going on the Road: “I think it’s a lot easier. Traveling takes its toll on the body and it takes its toll on the team -- and on everybody, even the fans. It’s hard for them to get out and travel to every single away game. I think it gives us quite an advantage being at home during the playoffs.”
Defense (299 starts by 22 players): Zach Johnson 37, Paul Ena 35, Tyler Washburn 34, Evan Cook 26, Allen Brown 24, Jeff Minnerly 22, Ronnie Hamlin 20, T.J. Lee 18, David Gaylord 13, Ronald Baines 12, Jerry Ceja 12, Grant Williams 10 (includes one start on offense in 2009), Andru Pulu 11, Jordan Tonani 7, Cody McCarthy 5, J.C. Agen 4, Evan Day 3, Will Katoa 2, Dylan Zylstra 1, Rusty Haehl 1, Miles Weatheroy 1, Christian Hudnell 1.
Offense (296 starts by 23 players): Nicholas Edwards 44, Brandon Kaufman 34, Will Post 34, Steven Forgette 29, Brandon Murphy 21, Zack Gehring 20, Greg Herd 20, Ashton Miller 13, Clay DeBord 11, Jordan Talley 9, Vernon Adams 9, Drew Reynolds 8, Demitrius Bronson 7, Ryan Seto 6, Quincy Forte 6, Ashton Clark 6, Mario Brown 5, Kyle Padron 3, Jake Withnell 3, Cody Humphrey 2, Daniel Johnson 2, Jase Butorac 2, Cory Mitchell 1, T.J. Boatright 1.
* Four Eagles made starting debuts against Idaho on Aug. 30. On defense, Washington transfer Andru Pulu made his first start at defensive tackle and had one tackle, and sophomore Evan Day had 1 1/2 sacks in his starting debut at an end position. On offense, SMU transfer Kyle Padron completed 13-of-33 passes for 260 yards and a touchdown in his Eagle debut, but previously started 21 games at the NCAA FBS level at Southern Methodist. Also making his starting debut was left offensive tackle Clay DeBord.
* The only other starting debuts since the opener have been made by quarterback Vernon Adams at Weber State on Sept. 22, Jake Withnell against Montana on Sept. 29, Jordan Tonani against North Dakota on Oct. 6, offensive tackle T.J. Boatright against Sacramento State on Oct. 20, defensive tackle Dylan Zylstra versus Southern Utah on Oct. 27 and cornerbacks Miles Weatheroy and Christian Hudnell against Cal Poly on Nov. 3. In an unannounced and surprise start, Adams used his arm and his feet to lead EWU to a 20-3 halftime lead versus Weber State. The redshirt freshman led Eastern to scores on four of five drives in the first half, including a 75-yard touchdown mark on his first drive as an Eagle. He finished the game 7-of-12 for 75 yards, and ran five times for 62 yards, but missed most of the second half with cramping. Of his five rushes, four were for first downs; of his seven completions, four more resulted in EWU first downs. Tonani, starting because of broken collarbone suffered by Jeff Minnerly, had 11 tackles in his starting debut, then had eight with an interception return for a touchdown the next game in a 27-21 win over second-seeded Montana State. Boatright started as an injury replacement for Clay DeBord (ankle) and Zylstra started in place of an injured Andru Pulu (ankle). Weatheroy and Hudnell started when three other cornerbacks had to miss the first series against the Mustangs for being late for a weightlifting session earlier in the week.