Defense Dominates Early Despite Offense Finishing With 523 Yards
With three interceptions, seven sacks and nine passes broken up, defense holds offense scoreless in 12 of 18 possessions
The defense came ready for the challenge.
The Eastern Washington University defensive squads held the offense to 106 yards and scoreless in their first seven possessions to highlight the second football scrimmage of spring practice for the Eagles Saturday (April 19) at Roos Field in Cheney, Wash.
The defense forced four turnovers, intercepting All-America quarterback Vernon Adams three times and forcing and recovering a fumble as well. Despite giving up 523 yards of offense, the defense also finished with seven quick-whistle sacks and nine passes broken up.
The offense scored just six times in 18 possessions, but three of them came during EWU’s red-zone drill. The Eastern offense finished with 415 yards through the air and another 108 rushing, with a total of 84 plays in various scenarios and situations on a picture-perfect day at “The Inferno.”
“You are going to have games like that,” said Eastern head coach Beau Baldwin said. “Fortunately in the Big Sky last year we didn’t have too many like that -- we had halftime leads against pretty much everyone. No matter how good you think you are on offense or how good think you are on defense, get ready for a game where could be 17-14 or it could be 49-48 -- they all happen. You just have to be ready and prepared to find ways to rebound if things aren’t going the way you expected or like, and I feel both sides have shown the ability to do that through the spring football.”
The first seven possessions included interceptions by freshman redshirt defensive back Victor Gamboa and sophomore defensive lineman Matthew Sommer, as well as a forced fumble and recovery by defensive end John Goldwire.
The offense rebounded to put together a pair of 68-yard drives, and three more in the red zone drill from the defense’s 27-yard line. The other touchdown came on a 97-yard catch and run by All-America receiver Cooper Kupp from sophomore Jordan West.
But the defense was still solid, adding an interception by Zach Bruce to four other late possessions – eight in all -- in which they essentially forced the offense to punt.
“I thought the defense came out fired up and that caused some of the turnovers,” said Baldwin. “The offense moved the ball in their first series, but the defense still found a way to get a red zone stop. It was good to see both sides coming out doing things. It got a little sloppy in the middle of it, but when all was said and done there was energy. We are alright going forward and we just have to keep progressing in practice 10. I will know more after I watch the video.”
Adams finished 17-of-26 for 170 yards and a pair of touchdown passes to Blair Bomber, and West was 7-of-16 for 154 yards and a TD. Redshirt freshman quarterback Conner Richardson was 6-of-9 for 91 yards and a 33-yard TD scamper on a check-off at the line of scrimmage.
Kupp had six catches for 148 yards to lead EWU receivers, with Bomber finished with five for 63. A total of 14 players caught passes.
The leading rusher was Jabari Wilson with 32 yards on nine carries, and he also caught a pass for a 27-yard score. Cody Hecker added 21 yards on four carries, and junior wide receiver Shaq Hill had a 27-yard touchdown on a reverse.
The leading tackler in the scrimmage was freshman redshirt linebacker Jake Gall with eight. Seven different players were credited with sacks, and sophomore cornerback D’londo Tucker and sophomore Isaac Anderson each broke-up two passes.
Eastern opened its 14-session spring practice schedule on April 4 and will continue to practice Tuesdays and Thursdays, and have its final scrimmage on Saturday, April 26 at 2 p.m. in the annual Red-White Game at Roos Field. But the Eagles will follow that with one more week of practice before wrapping up on May 1.
Blair Bomber 1 pass from Vernon Adams (Roldan Alcobendas kick) – 8 plays, 68 yards
Conner Richardson 33 run (Roldan Alcobendas kick) – 7 plays, 68 yards
Cooper Kupp 97 pass from Jordan West (Alcobendas kick) – 1 play, 97 yards
Shaq Hill 27 run (Alcobendas kick) – 1 play, 27 yards
Jabari Wilson 27 pass from Jordan West (Alcobendas kick failed) – 1 play, 27 yards
Bomber 3 pass from Adams (Alcobendas kick) – 5 plays, 27 yards
RUSHING: Jabari Wilson 9-32, Shaq Hill 1-27, Cody Hecker 4-21, Conner Richardson 4-21, Mario Brown 4-12, Jordan West 5-12, Samuel Mintah 2-4, Vernon Adams 2-1, Team 1-minus-22, Totals 32-108.
PASSING: Vernon Adams 17-26-180-3int, Jordan West 7-16-154, Conner Richardson 6-9-91, Team 0-1, Totals 30-52-415-3int.
RECEIVING: Cooper Kupp 6-148, Kendrick Bourne 4-36, Shaquille Hill 1-12, Aaron Clark 2-24, Terry Jackson 1-5, Austin Ehlo 2-13, Blair Bomber 5-63, Zach Wimberly 2-11, Jabari Wilson 2-34, Larren Wright 1-7, Cody Hecker 1-4, Samuel Mintah 1-11, Kyle Delegard 1-12, Austin Flynn 1-35, Totals 30-415.
TACKLES LEADERS: Jake Gall 8, Miles Weatheroy 5, John Goldwire 4, Miquiyah Zamora 4, Isaac Anderson 4, Frank Cange 4, Gaven Deyarmin 4, Jake Hoffman 4, D’londo Tucker 4, Isaiah Jenkins 3, Jordan Tonani 3, Todd Raynes 3, John Kreifels 3, Albert Havili 3, Ashton Boothroyd 3.
SACKS: Zackary Johnson, John Kreifels, Miquiyah Zamora, Andre Lino, Ashton Boothroyd, Derek Weston.
PASSES BROKEN UP: Isaac Anderson 2, D’londo Tucker 2, Jake Hoffman, Zach Bruce, Frank Cange, Miquiyah Zamora, Albert Havili.
FUMBLE RECOVERIES: John Goldwire.
FORCED FUMBLES: John Goldwire, Isaac Anderson.
Spring Practice Schedule
Practices take place various days through May 1. Most practices are scheduled to start at 4 p.m. (media interviews at approximately 3:35 p.m. or after practice at about 6 p.m.). All practices take place at Roos Field. Scrimmages also take place on the red Sprinturf surface at the “Inferno” in Cheney, Wash.
April 22 - Practice, 4 p.m.
April 24 - Practice, 4 p.m.
April 26 – Red-White Spring Game, 2 p.m., Roos Field
April 29 - Practice, 4 p.m.
May 1 – Practice, 4 p.m.
Annual Red-White Game Televised Live on SWX
The annual Red-White Game will take place on Saturday, April 26 at 2 p.m. at Roos Field in conjunction with Eagle Week at EWU and the Orland Killin Lobster Dinner, Dance and Auction. The Red-White Game will be televised live in the Spokane area by SWX -- SWX digital 6.2 in Spokane/Cheney/Sandpoint/Lewiston, 23.3 in Yakima and 25.3 in the Tri-Cities; also via Comcast 306 (Spokane); Davis Cable 514/81.2/12 (Cheney); Time Warner 306 (Coeur d’Alene & Pullman/Moscow); Charter 287 (Tri-Cities/Yakima), Cable One 466 (Lewiston) and Northland Cable 115 (Moses Lake & Sandpoint). KHQ/SWX Sports Director Sam Adams will handle the play-by-play, Bob Castle will be the color commentator and Larry Weir will provide sideline reports.