Sept. 29, 2007
Sophomore quarterback Matt Nichols passed for a career-high 363 yards and a pair of touchdowns, but 21st-ranked Eastern Washington was inconsistent on offense and lost 28-21 to Portland State Saturday (Sept. 29) in a Big Sky Conference football game at Woodward Field in Cheney, Wash.
Eastern was held to 74 yards in the opening quarter and 79 in the third quarter as the Eagles fell behind 28-14 with 3:28 to play in the game. Eastern scored late to pull within a touchdown and had the ball on the PSU 42-yard line in the final seconds, but Nichols was intercepted on a desperation heave into the end zone to end the contest.
It was EWU's first loss in four tries this season as the Eagles fell to 1-1 in the Big Sky Conference. Portland State is now 2-3, including a perfect 2-0 Big Sky mark after being picked to finish second in the league standings.
"On offense we just didn't execute all night long and we never got in sync," said Eagle head coach Paul Wulff, whose team finished with 417 yards of offense, well below their average of 487.7 that ranked fourth in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision. "We just didn't play well on offense and it put our defense in a lot of stressful situations."
Eastern allowed Portland State to finish with 520 yards of offense, including 141 rushing yards by Olaniyi Sobomehin. The Vikings entered the game ranked 116th and last in FCS in rushing (21.8 yards per game).
"I thought our defense played well in a lot of situations," said Wulff. "It was just a frustrating game. We just didn't play as well as we hoped we would and we just didn't execute great."
Eastern next plays at No. 1 ranked and nine-time defending league champion Montana on Oct. 6. The Grizzlies edged Weber State 18-10 to remain unbeaten at 4-0 overall and 1-0 in the Big Sky.
"We are a good young team," said Wulff. "We just have to come back from this, and we will."
"We played hard and competed to the end -- that's all we can ask," he added. "It was just one of those days we just didn't have it."
Nichols completed 19-of-30 passes as he eclipsed his previous career high of 329 yards set last year against Sacramento State. His performance equals the 23rd-best in school history.
Eastern managed just 54 net yards rushing as Nichols was sacked five times. In its previous four games, EWU's senior-dominated offensive line surrendered just one. Dale Morris was the leading rusher with 35 yards on 11 carries with a long rush of seven yards.
Portland State took an early 7-0 lead before Eastern got untracked in the second quarter with back-to-back scores. Brown's 85-yard catch and run led to a 1-yard touchdown run by Alexis Alexander to knot the score 7-7.
Eastern took the lead on its next possession after Eagle Terry Mixon returned an interception 57 yards to the PSU 26. Five plays later, Nichols passed 10 yards to Tony Davis to give EWU its only lead of the game.
Portland State scored three times in the second half to take a 28-14 advantage with 3:28 to play. But Eastern went on a four-play, 83-yard scoring drive that took just 51 seconds, with Nichols completing a pair of passes to Boyce of 51 yards and 23 yards for the touchdown.
Eastern got the ball back with 23 seconds to play, and Nichols completed a pass of 36 yards to Evan Robbins before ending the game with his interception.