Eagles Host Seahawks in FCS Playoffs at Roos Field
While Eastern has faced on-field adversity with close games, Wagner College has survived the far more adverse conditions of Hurricane Sandy
Eastern Washington Univ. “Eagles”
Wagner College “Seahawks”
Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012 • 3:05 p.m.
Roos Field (8,600) • Cheney, Wash.
EWU Coach: Beau Baldwin (Central Washington
School Record: 42-18/30-10 Big Sky Conference (5th Season)
Career Record: 52-21 (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: 9-2/7-1 Big Sky Conference (co-champ; FCS Playoffs automatic berth)
2011: 6-5/5-3 Big Sky (T-3rd)
Last Game: Eastern 41, Portland State 34 (Nov. 17 in Portland, Ore)
TV/Webcast: ESPN3 (internet platform).
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).
The Eastern Washington University football team has faced a lot of adverse situations on the field in the 2012 season, however, those were not even close to the degree of adversity Wagner College had to overcome a month ago.
But the end of the season for one of those schools will occur this Saturday (Dec. 1) as the Eagles and Seahawks battle in a second-round game in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision Playoffs at Roos Field in Cheney, Wash. Kickoff has been set for 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.
Wagner, coming off a 31-20 win over Colgate in the first round of the playoffs, is now 9-3 and shared the Northeast Conference title with a 7-1 mark. The Seahawks have won nine-straight games after a 0-3 start, including a 30-0 win over Albany to earn the league’s automatic berth.
Located in Staten Island, N.Y., Wagner registered its impressive victory over Albany in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. Evacuated from campus for three days, the team missed a practice, prepared without the benefit of electricity, dressed in a dark locker room and had no hot water leading up to the Albany game. But they were the fortunate ones on hard-hit Staten Island, and the team spent time to help in the recovery efforts.
With a penchant for pulling out victories, the Eagles will enter the game 9-2 overall this season, and 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. 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.
“I think without question it will help us,” head coach Beau Baldwin said of EWU’s close games. “We are going to go through moments where things are not going great and we are facing adversity, and winning those tough ballgames helps. It does during the week of practice and it does during game days -- we find ways to come out on top.”
Eastern has never played Wagner – a member of FCS since 1992 -- or a team from the Northeast Conference. The Seahawks are led by NEC Coach of the Year Walt Hameline, a veteran of 32 seasons as head coach at Wagner. He led Wagner to the 1987 NCAA Division III Championship and has won a total 213 games in his career (213-126-2).
His 2012 team had five first-team All-Northeast Conference selections, including quarterback Nick Doscher, running back Dominque Williams, offensive lineman Steve Ciocci, defensive back Jarrett Dieudonne and return specialist Otis Wright. Two other defensive backs and a linebacker were named to the second team.
The Seahawks rank sixth in FCS in scoring defense (16.6 points per game) and 11th in passing defense (164.9 per game). That will provide a challenge for an Eastern offense currently ranked 26th in scoring offense (31.8) and 10th in passing offense (298.8 yards per game).
In Wagner’s win over Colgate, the Seahawks held the second-best offense in FCS to 296 yards after entering the game averaging 503.7. Colgate’s Walter Payton Award candidate, Gavin McCarney, had 216 yards of the team’s offense (97 rushing, 119 passing). But that was well below his average of 323.8 per game, which ranked seventh in FCS.
“Ultimately, we have to find a way to win,” said Baldwin, who will be making his fifth playoff appearance as either an Eastern assistant coach (2004, 2005) or head coach (2009, 2010, 2012). “We have played a lot of close games this year in one of the toughest conferences in the country, which hopefully puts us in a good position. We are just excited about the one we are going to play this week.”
Tickets continue to be sold for the game, 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 ww.ticketswest.com or 1-800-325-Seat. Season ticket holders and fans who purchase first-round tickets get preference for purchasing tickets in subsequent rounds, but a commitment to purchase must be made.
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
* Eastern will be 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 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.
* The four first-round games are Nov. 24, with 12 teams receiving byes. Eight games in the round of 16 are played on Dec. 1. The quarterfinals are Dec. 7-8, the semifinals are Dec. 14-15 and the championship game is Jan. 5 in Frisco, Texas, at 10 a.m. Pacific time on ESPN2. All games will be produced by ESPN, with the first two-rounds available via ESPN3.
* In November and beyond, Eastern is 11-0 since 2010 and 20-3 since 2007. Since 2010, EWU is 23-2 after Oct. 1, including an 11-0 mark two years ago, 6-1 last year and 6-1 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.
* 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. Wagner received enough votes (49) to rank 33rd. 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). Wagner received enough votes (10) to rank 31st.
* Cheney is a former home to the Seahawks, but this is the first meeting for EWU against the Wagner College Seahawks. Because of the excellent facilities and weather Eastern Washington University has to offer, the preseason training camp for the Seattle Seahawks of the National Football League took place on the EWU campus from 1997-2006. Thousands of spectators as well as members of the media converged on Cheney throughout the month of practices. Seattle also had training camp at Eastern from 1976-85.
* 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 this week. 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.
* 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 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.
* Besides sending the seniors out with a victory on Senior Day on Nov. 10, Eastern finished the regular season 5-0 at home. Since the red Sprinturf surface was installed in 2010, Eastern is now 15-2 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 is no stranger to big games, and he 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 starter 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 to play 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 twice and come off the bench in six games. He has completed 57.8 percent of his passes for a team-leading 1,689 yards, 10 touchdowns and four interceptions.
* Senior linebacker Zach Johnson 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 was in double figures in tackles for the 13th time in his career when he finished with a team-leading 10 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 – 36 – and has 34 tackles in six 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 294 tackles, five interceptions, 13 passes broken up and 6 1/2 sacks as an Eagle. He is just 19 tackles from moving into seventh all-time at Eastern, and is 47 away from the total of 341 by his twin brother Matt Johnson, who now plays for the Dallas Cowboys.
* 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. The field goal also gives EWU 17 for the season, breaking the previous team record of 16 set last year. An impressive 16-of-17 on the season, Pavel ranks fourth in FCS with an average of 1.45 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.
* In this week’s Jeff Sagarin computer ratings, Eastern is fifth overall in FCS (85th overall). North Dakota State is first among FCS schools, followed by Sam Houston State, South Dakota State, Montana State (81st overall), and Eastern. Other highly-ranked Big Sky schools include Cal Poly (7/90), Northern Arizona (17/112), Southern Utah (26/134), North Dakota (32/142) Sacramento State (34/146), Montana (35/158), UC Davis (42/158) and Portland State (44/162). Wagner is 54th in FCS and 177th overall. The Eagles were a season-high second nationally among FCS schools at one point this season.
Eagles in the Playoffs
* Eastern has advanced past the first round five times (1985, 1997, 2004, 2007, 2010) and has a 9-7 record in eight playoff appearances (1985, 1992, 1997, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2010). Only 15 teams have made more playoff appearances than the Eagles. The 2010 season marked EWU’s fifth appearance in the quarterfinals. Eastern has reached the semifinals twice before (1997, 2010), but 2010 was EWU’s first appearance in the championship game.
• 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):
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 569
games worth of experience, and have 267 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 36 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) - 45/11
^56 - Evan Cook – Defensive Tackle - 6-3 - 280 - Sr. - 3L* - Federal Way, Wash. (Todd Beamer HS ’08) - 37/25
^11 - Nicholas Edwards – Wide Receiver - 6-3 - 200 - Sr. - 3L* - Tacoma, Wash. (Foss HS ’08) - 47/43
^44 - Paul Ena – Defensive End - 6-2 - 240 - Sr. - 3L - Kenmore, Wash. (Inglemoor HS ’09) - 48/34
43 - Rusty Haehl - Linebacker - 5-11 - 215 - Sr. - 3L* - Bellevue, Wash. (Bellevue HS ’08) - 43/1
^3 - Greg Herd – Wide Receiver - 6-3 - 200 - Sr. - 3L - Tacoma, Wash. (Steilacoom HS ’09) - 44/19
^10 - Zach Johnson - Linebacker - 6-1 - 225 - Sr. - 3L* - Tumwater, Wash. (Tumwater HS ’07) – 36/36
32 - Chase King - Linebacker - 6-1 - 215 - Sr. - 1L* - Federal Way, Wash. (Decatur HS ’08) - 21/0
^7 - Jeff Minnerly – Safety - 6-1 - 200 - Sr. - 3L* - Spokane, Wash. (Ferris HS ’08) - 37/22
27 - McKenzie Murphy - Safety - 5-9 - 190 - Sr. - TR* - Spokane, Wash. (Ferris HS ’08 / Western Washington) - 9/0
99 - Jimmy Pavel – Kicker - 5-11 - 195 - Sr. - 1L* - Molalla, Ore. (Central Catholic HS ’08 / Boise State) – 21
^76 - Will Post – Offensive Tackle - 6-6 - 310 - Sr. - 3L* - Portland, Ore. (Southridge HS ’08) - 42/33
54 - Jake Potter – Long Snapper - 6-2 - 200 - Sr. - 2L* - Kennewick, Wash. (Kamiakin HS ’08) – 40
^55 - Tyler Washburn - Linebacker - 6-1 - 230 - Sr. - 3L* - Sammamish, Wash. (Skyline HS ’08) – 48/33
^18 - Grant Williams - Linebacker - 6-1 - 225 - Sr. - 3L* - Puyallup, Wash. (Rogers HS ’08) – 47/10
^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 42-18 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 67-40. 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 .700 percentage overall is 11th.
* Junior Brandon Kaufman has 65 catches for 1,270 yards (19.5 per catch) and 10 touchdowns thus far, including career highs of 11 catches for 201 yards (fifth-most in school history) versus Southern Utah on Oct. 27. The first team All-Big Sky performer is coming off a nine-catch, 161-yard performance 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 eight times this season and 16 times in his career, including career highs of 10 catches for 192 yards versus Southern Utah on Oct. 27. The 2010 All-American leads the Big Sky and ranks fifth in FCS in receiving yards per game (115.5), and his 10 TD receptions are ninth in FCS. 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 193 career catches (fifth in school history) for 3,151 yards (third) and 27 touchdowns (fourth).
* The Eagles are now second in the league and 10th in FCS in passing offense (298.2 per game), as quarterbacks Vernon Adams and Kyle Padron are each averaging around the 200-yard mark per game in total offense. Padron, who started the first two games and has played six others as a sub, has completed 57.8 percent of his passes for a team-leading 1,689 yards, 10 TDs and four interceptions. 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. Adams has rushed for 308 yards and is averaging 189.4 yards of total offense per game, and Padron has 62 rushing and averages 218.9 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 19th in FCS in total offense (434.2). Eastern is also 21st in passing efficiency (142.5) and 26th in scoring offense (31.82).
* The Eagles, an early leader in the Big Sky Conference in scoring defense, are now second in the league. They have allowed 23.4 points per game, which ranks 44th in FCS.
* Eastern is now 64th in FCS in rushing defense (161.6), having given up only 336 rushing yards total in its first three games and just 70 versus Montana State. Eastern is also 77th in total defense (391.6). 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).
* A second team All-Big Sky selection, starting defensive end Jerry Ceja is 11th in FCS and is third in the league with an average of 0.82 sacks per game (total of nine). He has 34 total tackles this season with 11 for loss, and also has four 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 ninth all-time in career sacks with 20 1/2, and is only a half-sack from moving into eighth and 1 1/2 from seventh. Ceja had two sacks versus 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 32nd nationally with an average of 2.36 per game.
* Freshman Shaquille Hill, who had a 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown against North Dakota on Sept. 6, ranks 29th in FCS with an average of 24.7 yards per kickoff return. He earned honorable mention All-Big Sky Conference honors. As a team, Eastern is 27th in FCS with a 22.3 average.
* In other national rankings, Eastern is 23rd in turnover margin (+0.55 per game). Eastern’s Jake Miller is 11th in punting (43.3), although teammate Jimmy Pavel has handled much of the punting chores in EWU’s last three games.
* Wagner has one of the top defenses in FCS, ranking sixth in scoring defense (16.6), 15th in total defense (312.5), 11th in passing defense (164.9) and 49th in rushing defense (147.6). The Seahawks rank 37th in rushing offense (178.3), 83rd in scoring offense (22.8), 94th in total offense (324.8) and 107th among 121 FCS schools in passing offense (146.4). Wagner is also 11th in turnover margin (+ 0.92 per game) and third in kickoff returns (26.0). Individually, Dominique Williams is 21st in rushing (106.1 per game, 1,268 total) and Otis Wright is eighth in kickoff returns (28.3).
* Besides 1997 when they 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 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 130 games worth of experience (95 starts), and have collective totals of 553 catches for 7,860 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 75 catches for 909 yards and seven touchdowns in his career.
* The Eagles have a quartet of linebackers who have combined for 153 games of experience (98 starts) in their careers, with a collective total of 881 tackles. Zach Johnson (36 games played/36 starts) has 294 tackles, Tyler Washburn (48/33) has 241, Ronnie Hamlin (22/19) has 192 and Grant Williams (47/11) has 154. In addition, sophomore Cody McCarthy (16/5, 75 tackles) has seen significant action for EWU since last season.
* Junior cornerback T.J. Lee has piled up some impressive statistics this season, ranking second on the team with 72 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. In his most recent outing 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 131 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 107 tackles this season to rank 18th in school history, and his average of 9.73 per game ranks 28th 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 19-game starter for the Eagles, Hamlin has 192 tackles already in his 22-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 33 career starts in 42 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 10th in the FCS in passing offense (298.2 per game). The Eagles had a season-best 542 total yards versus Cal Poly and are now fourth in the Big Sky and 20th in FCS in total offense (434.2). Eastern is also 22nd in passing efficiency (142.5) and 26th in scoring offense (31.82).
* Junior Allen Brown is fourth on the team with 69 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 23 of the 26 games he has played in his career, with totals of 159 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.
* 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 12 and 13 points. 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. In addition, Eastern overcame deficits of 13 points in the first half and 12 points in the third quarter to defeat Portland State on Nov. 17. 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.
* Eastern’s running game is much-improved in 2012, with the Eagles ranking 79th in FCS with an average of 135.4 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.
* 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.
* 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 led the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision in passing offense in 2011, averaging 368.5 yards per game. In Beau Baldwin’s 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 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.
* 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)
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 six total games this season, and is questionable for the Wagner game. A concussion suffered backup safety by McKenzie Murphy kept him from playing versus Portland State on Nov. 17, but is expected to be back for the playoffs. Backup offensive tackle T.J. Boatright (knee) missed four games and is questionable this week. 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 to keep his streak of starting every game he’s played – now 34 -- alive. 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.
* 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.
* Besides Pavel, other 2012 performances ranking on EWU’s single season statistical leaders lists include Vernon Adams in passing efficiency (eighth, 152.38), Brandon Kaufman in reception yards (fifth, 1,270) and average per reception (sixth, 19.5), Jake Miller in punting average (third, 43.3) and Ronnie Hamlin in tackles (18th, 107).
* Wide receiver Brandon Kaufman has 193 catches in his career to rank fifth in school history, and now is chasing teammate Nicholas Edwards (208) for fourth. Kaufman is third all-time in EWU history with 3,151 reception yards, and is now just 179 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).
* Wide receiver Nicholas Edwards is now fifth all-time in Eastern history in receiving yards with 2,574, and is seventh in points scored with 196. His 208 career catches ranks fourth in school history (No. 3 has 213) 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 152 grabs ranks 10th, and is just five receptions from ninth. His catches have been good for 2,135 yards to rank 13th in school history, and he also has 16 touchdowns (unranked).
* The 43.8 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 294 tackles in his career to rank eighth all-time at Eastern. He is just 19 tackles from moving into seventh all-time at Eastern, and is 47 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 14th with 241. He is two from the No. 13 position and four from ranking 12th.
* 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.
* Senior defensive end Jerry Ceja is ninth all-time in career sacks with 20 1/2, and needs only a half-sack from moving into eighth and 1 1/2 from seventh. 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).
Recent Game Summary
* “Find a way,” were the continual words of Eastern head football coach Beau Baldwin in the waning seconds on Nov. 17 at Jeld-Wen Field in Portland, Ore. Eastern’s All-America wide receivers – and transfer quarterback Kyle Padron -- came up with huge plays when the Eagles needed them most, and EWU secured its sixth Big Sky Conference title with a 41-34 victory over Portland State. Eastern scored the winning points on an eight-play, 94-yard drive to break a 34-all tie with 1:25 to play in a steady downpour.
* Padron passed for 380 yards and a pair of touchdowns to 2011 All-American Nicholas Edwards in the second half as Eastern rallied from season-high deficits of 13 and 12 points. Padron, a junior who transferred this year from Southern Methodist, came off the bench to complete 26-of-38 passes for 381 yards and two touchdowns, and also rushed for one. He replaced starter Vernon Adams, who was 4-of-7 for 82 yards.
* Brandon Kaufman, who had a medical redshirt last season after earning All-America honors in 2010, had nine catches for 161 yards, with a pair that mere words cannot do justice. Kaufman had two sensational, highlight-reel catches after tipped balls. Eastern’s top All-America candidate this season, the junior has gone over the 100-yard mark eight times this season and 16 times in his career. Senior Greg Herd added seven catches for 108 yards, and Edwards added four for 77 yards and his two scores.
* Defensively, senior linebacker Zach Johnson had a pair of interceptions in the second half and three tackles, and junior cornerback T.J. Lee had eight tackles and three passes broken up.
* Eastern rushed for four touchdowns, but was held to a paltry rushing total for the second-straight year, finishing with no yards on the ground to go along with 463 through the air. Eastern had minus-1 yards rushing a year ago in a 43-26 setback to Portland State, a loss which essentially cost the Eagles a playoff berth.
* Read more at: http://www.goeags.com/sports/m-footbl/2012-13/Releases/12fbNov17PSURecap
Quoting Coach Beau Baldwin
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. We are just excited about making this run right now, and, more than anything, preparing for our first game.”
On Getting a Week Off After Playing Nine-Straight Weeks: “We haven’t had a bye in nine weeks and that’s uncommon -- usually we have a bye later in the year. We feel like we have gone through a nine-week wringer. Our guys will benefit mentally and physically a lot from the things we will do.”
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. We are looking forward to that again because they deserve to watch a few more games.”
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 Playoff Feel of Conference Race: “We feel like we have been playing a lot of playoff-caliber teams the last few weeks. The Big Sky is so talented, so our game prep will be very similar. The only thing that changes a little bit is how late in the season it is. When you are this late in the year, sometimes there are certain things you do in practice that are slightly different from the beginning of the year because the guys have been through such a long season. Your whole goal is to get them mentally sharp and in great condition, but also physically feeling as fresh as they can for Saturday’s game.”
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 No. 2 Seed: “I’m extremely happy. The level of teams that the selection committee has to sort through is a tough job. It’s always a tough decision and it is every year. Once you are in the playoffs, we are all doing the same thing -- trying to take care of business one week at a time and see what happens. We are excited to be where we are. We were fortunate enough as the five seed to get the home playoff games (in 2010). There is no question it’s an advantage -- you don’t have to look at too many years to see there is a common theme that the top teams played a lot of games at home.
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. We were able to get it done.”
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.”
On Portland State Win: “I’m so proud of our players for finding a way again to get it done against a tough Portland State team, It was a battle, but we found a way.”
On Kyle Padron Versus Vikings: “Kyle was a stud. I knew there was a chance he could play a little more in this game based on certain things they were doing. It’s a unique situation being able to play guys based on a match-up. It worked out and he played really well. The receivers made plays. We dialed-up the right protections to give him time, and when all was said and done, we made enough plays to win.”
On Big Sky Title: “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. Now we’ll move on to our second season so to speak.”
Quoting Quarterback Kyle Padron
On Getting the No. 2 Seed: “It’s awesome. I was actually talking with (teammate) Cory Mitchell and we were going to be a little upset if Montana State got in front of us. We are excited -- it’s huge to have some home games, and the road comes through Cheney this year. Hopefully we can win out.”
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 Higher Seed Than Montana State: “We really did not talk about it too much, but it’s always good to have a higher seed. We are excited about it. Playoff time is always huge. I’m new to it, but it’s going to be an exciting time and we are ready to go.”
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 Defensive End Jerry Ceja
On No. 2 Seed: “I’m really excited. To get the No. 2 seed is a good advantage going into the playoffs. It helps us get the first-round bye, and it helps us play more games at home. Getting the home-field advantage and having our fans is pretty important. It helps to give us a better chance to win.”
On Confidence: “We are feeling confident. This is a big year for us -- I think we felt it going into this season. We have had a lot of cohesion as a team, and just being able to go into the playoffs with this type of momentum is going to help us.”
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 (288 starts by 22 players): Zach Johnson 36, Paul Ena 34, Tyler Washburn 33, Evan Cook 25, Allen Brown 23, Jeff Minnerly 22, Ronnie Hamlin 19, T.J. Lee 17, David Gaylord 13, Ronald Baines 11, Jerry Ceja 11, Grant Williams 10 (includes one start on offense in 2009), Andru Pulu 10, Jordan Tonani 6, 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 (285 starts by 23 players): Nicholas Edwards 43, Brandon Kaufman 33, Will Post 33, Steven Forgette 28, Zack Gehring 20, Brandon Murphy 20, Greg Herd 19, Ashton Miller 12, Clay DeBord 10, Jordan Talley 9, Vernon Adams 9, Drew Reynolds 8, Demitrius Bronson 6, Ryan Seto 6, Quincy Forte 6, Ashton Clark 5, Mario Brown 5, Jake Withnell 3, Cody Humphrey 2, Kyle Padron 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.