Sept. 16, 2006
Eastern Washington managed just 318 yards of total offense and a fourth-quarter punt return set-up the winning score as the Eagles were upset by Central Washington 21-14 Saturday (Sept. 16) at Woodward Field in Cheney, Wash.
The Eagles fell to 0-3 with the loss while Central Washington, a NCAA Division II school, raised its record to 2-1. Central snapped a seven-game losing streak against the Eagles, who hadn't lost to the Wildcats since 1977. This is only EWU's second 0-3 start since 1983.
Eastern managed just 318 yards of total offense and couldn't capitalize on four Central turnovers. Eastern had to punt after two of the CWU miscues and had interceptions of its own after the other two.
"We just couldn't get anything going offensively all night," said EWU head coach Paul Wulff. "Our defense created a lot of turnovers and gave our offense many opportunities, but we just couldn't get anything going of offense. So far that has been the story of our offense all year long."
Eastern freshman redshirt quarterback Matt Nichols completed 18-of-34 passes for 213 yards and one touchdown, but also had two interceptions and was sacked three times. Another redshirt freshman, Tony Davis, was Eastern's leading receiver with six catches for 112 yards.
Eagle senior Ryan Cole rushed for 68 yards on 20 carries and scored a touchdown. Eastern will look for its first victory of the season next Saturday (Sept. 23) against Montana State in the Big Sky Conference opener for both schools. The Bobcats are 1-2 after a 45-0 loss to UC-Davis.
"We have a lot of inexperienced players," said Wulff. "There are a lot of freshmen out there for us and they aren't executing. We have a lot of growing up to do and we have one week to get ready."
Most of the scoring in the game came in the second quarter. Central scored first, but Eastern took a 14-6 lead on Cole's 9-yard run and a 3-yard touchdown pass from Nichols to freshman redshirt Aaron Boyce. The second touchdown came with just six seconds left in the first half after Davis caught a deflected pass and took the ball 70 yards to the Central 3-yard line.
Central knotted the game in the third quarter, then scored the deciding points with 11:45 left in the game. Wildcat Brandon Kennedy returned a punt 44 yards to set-up a 3-yard touchdown run by quarterback Mike Reilly. Reilly finished the game 19-of-28 for 162 yards and a pair of touchdown passes.
Eastern, however, managed only 89 yards and just five first downs in the second half. Central had 164 of its 339 yards in the final 30 minutes, but Eastern couldn't capitalize on interceptions by Brandon Keeler, Ira Jarmon and Anthony Dotson.
"Our defense in the second half made some big plays and if our offense could have converted on those plays we would have had a chance to win big," added Wulff.
Keeler led the Eagles with 11 tackles. Central's Johnny Lopez rushed for 121 yards on 19 carries and Johnny Spevak had eight catches for 105 yards and a score. Central was 9-of-15 on third down conversions compared to just 4-of-12 for the Eagles.
"Their offense did a great job of converting on third downs and moving the chains," added Wulff. "Their quarterback, (Mike Reilly), is a very good football player and is the key to Central Washington's team."