October 30, 2006

Eastern Plays at Weber State in Final Road Game

Oct. 30, 2006

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Both teams have been starved of victories this season, but there shouldn't be any shortage of hunger this Saturday (Nov. 4) when Eastern Washington visits Weber State in a Big Sky Conference football game in Ogden, Utah. Kickoff at Stewart Stadium is 12:05 p.m. Pacific time.

Both teams enter with just two victories and are trying desperately to finish the season on a high note after disappointing seasons thus far. The four victories are a far cry from the 13 they combined for last season when Eastern finished 7-4 and Weber State closed the year 6-5. At best, they can combine for just eight this year.

"They lost some key players on offense and we did too," said Eagle head coach Paul Wulff on the reversal of fortunes. "It's a combination of a lot of things. There's no real science to why things happen to determine wins and losses. I just know we had a very tough schedule with a young football team and we've missed some good opportunities to win games."

"The Pittsburgh Steelers are 2-5 right now and won the Super Bowl last year," he added. "And the Seahawks have had injuries that have kept them from winning as much as they did last year when they reached the Super Bowl. Things happen in the game of football."

Eastern Washington is 2-7 overall and 2-4 in the Big Sky, and is trying to remain in the middle of the pack in the Big Sky. At the same time, they are trying top find a little consistency to go along with the flashes of brilliance they have shown at times this season.

The Eagles are coming off their highest-scoring output of the season, but it also is coming off one of its worst defensive performances in a 44-36 loss to Northern Arizona. Eastern had 464 yards of offense against the Lumberjacks, a week after getting just 164 in a 34-0 loss to Portland State.

The Eagle defense has allowed 78 points in its last two games -- including 44 to a Lumberjack team that finished with 541 yards of total offense. Just two games ago, Eastern was celebrating the school's first shutout in 215 games with a 34-0 whitewashing of Northern Colorado.

"We're not putting it all together yet," explained Wulff. "We have to play good on offense, defense and special teams all at once. We've shown flashes but not enough at once. Our effort was good for four quarters against Northern Arizona and I was pleased with that. If we can put that together with great execution then we give ourselves chances to win."

The best Eastern can finish this season is 4-7 as its streak of winning seasons will come to an end at seven. The streak started in 1999, a year after Eastern began the season 0-3 but recovered well enough to finish 5-6. Eastern also started this season 0-3.

This season is shaping up to be one much like 1995 when a young Eagle team finished 3-8 overall and 1-6 in the Big Sky. Two years later, in 1997, the Eagles finished 12-2, won the Big Sky with a 7-1 record and advanced to the semifinals of the NCAA Division I-AA Playoffs.

Weber State, meanwhile, is perhaps the hard-luck team in the league this year. Now 2-6 overall and 1-4 in the league, the Wildcats lost to Montana State 24-18 when the Bobcats scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns to pull out the win. Montana State used a 51-yard interception return in the final five minutes to score the winning points.

Prior to that, Weber State lost three conference games by a total of just 16 points to Portland State (20-10), Sacramento State (24-21) and league-leader Montana (33-30). The lone conference victory for the Wildcats was 26-21 over Northern Colorado.

Weber State is allowing just 284.3 yards per game to rank 24th in NCAA Division I-AA and second in the Big Sky behind league unbeaten Montana (260.2). Opponents are averaging just 22.8 points per game versus the Wildcats.

"Their defense is right up there with Montana's," said Wulff. "They will be a stiff challenge for our offense. They have good players, they play hard and they do a nice job of keeping teams out of the end zone."


 

Eagles & Wildcats in NCAA Statistics: Eastern is currently 71st out of 116 I-AA teams in total offense (315.3 yards per game). Eastern, which finished the last two seasons ranked fourth nationally in offense, was 112th after three games this season and its highest ranking of the year was 70th after seven games. Eastern is currently 98th in rushing (100.4), 28th in passing (214.9) and 84th in scoring (17.8).

Defensively, Eastern is 103rd in total defense (383.8) while ranking 104th in rushing defense (191.2), 96th in passing efficiency defense (139.9) and 104th in scoring defense (30.1). Eastern is 17th nationally with 11 interceptions. The Eagles are also ranked 20th nationally in net punting (34.9).

Kicker Brett Bergstrom, who is 14-of-15 kicking field goals this season, is fifth in field goals (1.56 per game). Punter Ryan Donckers is 15th in punting with a 42.4 average. Quarterback Matt Nichols is 54th in total offense with an average of 178.7 yards per game. Tony Davis is 58th in receiving (4.44 per game) and Brynsen Brown is 73rd in receiving yards (55.0 per game).

Weber State is 24th in total defense (284.3), 53rd in scoring defense (22.8), 37th in rushing defense (124.1) and 36th in passing efficiency defense (113.5). The Wildcats are 107th nationally in total offense (265.9), 94th in scoring (16.9), 100th in rushing offense (98.6) and 76th in passing offense (167.3). The Wildcats are also 12th in kickoff returns (22.9 per return) and 32nd in passing yards allowed (160.1).

Individually, Bryant Eteuati is fifth in kickoff returns (28.0), 15th in punt returns (12.1) and 32nd in all-purpose yards (121.1 per game). Mike Snoy is 24th in punting (40.7) and Ty Sparrow is 27th in interceptions (.43 per game).

 

Total of 18 Players Have Made Starting Debuts in 2006: A total of 18 players have made starting debuts in the 2006 season. The latest were freshman Jacob Kragt, who started at defensive end at Portland State, and sophomore Adam Macomber, who started at rover against Northern Colorado. Not included is receiver Charles Searcy, a former Eastern defensive back who made his first start on offense against Montana on Oct. 7.

Two Eagles made the first starts of their careers in Eastern's loss to Sacramento State. Freshman redshirt guard Ryan Forney started at guard, taking the place of two other players who didn't start for disciplinary reasons. True freshman Jeffrey Solomon started at wide receiver as the Eagles began the game in a four receiver lineup.

The Eagles had a shake-up in their starting lineup after the team's 0-3 start, with six players making their EWU starting debuts at Montana State on Sept. 23. Some were because of injuries but others were designed to improve Eastern at various positions. Those six players included wide receiver Brynsen Brown, offensive tackle Julian Stewart, wide receiver Shane Eller, nose tackle Josh Jacobson, rover Anthony Dotson and linebacker Makai Borden. In addition, Tony Davis started at the tailback position but quickly gave way to Toke Kefu, who came off redshirt to play versus the Bobcats.

Prior to that, eight starting debuts were made by Eagles in Eastern's first three games. Five players -- two on defense and three on offense -- made their starting debuts in the opener against Oregon State. Sophomore Shea Emry started at middle linebacker where he replaces 2005 Big Sky Defensive Player of the Year Joey Cwik, who started 40 games and never missed a game in his EWU career. The other debut on defense was made by junior Ira Jarmon at cornerback. On offense, quarterback Chris Peerboom filled the starting position held for 35 games the past three seasons by 2005 Walter Payton Award winner Erik Meyer. Freshman redshirt wide receiver Aaron Boyce and sophomore fullback Alexis Alexander also made their starting debuts. Alexander transferred from Washington State where he was a scout team linebacker and prior to that played three seasons of minor league baseball.

In the two games after that, other starting debuts were made by Charlie Wulff (West Virginia), Matt Nichols (West Virginia) and Tony Davis (Central Washington).

In all, the Eagles opened the 2006 season with 25 players with starting experience, amounting to 225 starts between them. Five players entered with between 22 and 24 starts each.

Last year, the Eagles entered the 2005 season with 23 players with starting experience (280 total starts). Just five players made their starting debuts for the Eagles in the season opener, but 13 made starting debuts after that because of a large amount of injuries the Eagles suffered.

The Eagles opened the 2004 season with 29 players with starting experience (271 starts), and in 2003 they had 28 players with starting experience (168 starts). However, Eastern had just 17 players with a combined 108 starts between them entering the 2002 season.

In both the 2003 and 2004 season openers, the Eagles had six new starters in the lineup. In 2002, 13 players made starting debuts in Eastern's 38-2 loss at Arizona State.

Here are the number of career starts by Eastern players in the 2006 season:

Defense (198 starts by 19 players): Nick Denbeigh 33, Brandon Keeler 32, David Eneberg 24, Greg Peach 14, Keith Grennan 13, DeNique Ford 12, Bryan Jarrett 12, Jason Belford 10, Ira Jarmon 9, Gene Piffero 8, Gregor Smith 7, Lance Witherspoon 6, Shea Emry 6, George Lane 3, Makai Borden 3, Anthony Dotson 2, Josh Jacobson 2, Adam Macomber 1, Jacob Kragt 1.

Offense (225 starts by 24 players): Harrison Nikolao 31 (includes 23 on defense), Rocky Hanni 31, Matt Alfred 31, Zach Wasielewski 21, Tim Calhoun 18, Ryan Cole 15, Chris Carlsen 11, Aaron Boyce 9, Matt Nichols 8, Charlie Wulff 8, Brynsen Brown 6, Tony Davis 5, Tyler Coleman 5, Charles Searcy 5 (includes four starts on defense), Tom McAndrews 5, Dale Morris 2, Toke Kefu 3, Alexis Alexander 4, Julian Stewart 2, Dezmon Cole 1, Chris Peerboom 1, Shane Eller 1, Jeffrey Solomon 1, Ryan Forney 1.

 

Nichols Assumes Starting Quarterback Position: Freshman redshirt Matt Nichols has secured the starting quarterback position, helping his cause with an improved performance against Montana State on Sept. 23. He is the first freshman quarterback to start for the Eagles since Griffin Garske in 1996.

Nichols, making just the fourth start of his career, had the first 300-yard passing game in his career as he finished 21-of-42 for 329 yards, a touchdown and three interceptions against Sacramento State on Sept. 30. A week earlier against Montana State he completed 10 of his last 14 passes and in the game and was 11-of-19 for 176 yards. His most accurate game came Oct. 21 versus Northern Colorado when he completed 16-of-21 passes for 259 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

In nine games thus far, Nichols is 112-of-201 (55.7 percent) for 1,450 yards, five touchdowns, 14 interceptions and a passing efficiency rating of 110.6.

Entering the season, Nichols shared time with junior Chris Peerboom in hopes of finding a full-time starter. Peerboom started against Oregon State and directed Eastern's offense in six possessions before leaving the game early in the second half with a concussion that kept him out of two games. He didn't play again until the Montana game.

Peerboom had just 88 yards passing and no touchdowns entering the 2006 season, and had just 174 yards and one touchdown entering EWU's game against Northern Arizona on Oct. 28. But he was 13-of-23 for 179 yards and three touchdowns against the Lumberjacks. He split time with Nichols, then saw all snaps in the fourth quarter when Nichols was injured. Trailing 44-22, Peerboom tossed a pair of touchdown passes to nearly rally the Eagles to victory before losing 44-36. For the season, he is now 28-of-57 (49 percent) for 353 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions.

Eastern utilized two quarterbacks at the start of the 2003 season when Erik Meyer and Skyler Allen were battling for the job. They shared possessions and each started one game before Meyer, then a sophomore, won the job against Central Washington and started his last 34 games for the Eagles (35 total). He concluded his record-breaking career by winning the 2005 Walter Payton Award as the top quarterback in NCAA Division I-AA.

 

Eneberg Leads Eagles With 64 Tackles: Senior linebacker David Eneberg earned Big Sky Conference Defensive Player of the Week honors twice this season after road victories at Montana State on Sept. 23 and Northern Colorado (Oct. 14). Eneberg is from Mukilteo, Wash., and is a 2002 graduate of Kamiak High School.

With a team-leading 64 tackles this season, he now has 208 in his career to move into the top 25 in career tackles in EWU history. He currently ranks 20th and is just five tackles from moving into 19th. At his current pace of 7.1 per game (currently 11th in the Big Sky), he would finish with 78 this season and 225 in his career to rank 15th.

Eneberg's player of the week honors were the first of his career. He was an honorable mention All-Big Sky selection last year.

 

Bergstrom Now 14-of-15 Kicking Field Goals: Kicker Brett Bergstrom had field goals of 27, 35 and 52 yards -- the eighth-longest in school history -- versus Northern Arizona on Oct. 28, making him 14-of-15 kicking field goals this season. He is also 14-of-15 kicking extra points. His lone misses this season were against Northern Colorado (36-yard field goal) and Northern Arizona (extra point).

He ranks fifth in I-AA with an average of 1.56 field goals per game. He is also averaging 60.6 yards on 36 kickoffs this season, including 16 touchbacks.

His 14 field goals is just one away from the school record with two games left to play. The school record is shared by three players -- Josh Atwood in 1997, Alex Lacson in 1991 and Jason Cromer in 1990.

In just his first season as Eastern's placekicker, he is only the second player in school history to kick three field goals of 50 yards or more in a single season and only the third overall to have that many 50-yard boots in a career. Eric Stein had five career field goals of at least 50 yards, including three in 1987 (school record 57, 51 twice).

Bergstrom earned Big Sky Conference Special Teams Player of the Week honors for the second time this season after helping Eastern defeat Northern Colorado 34-0 Oct. 14 in Greeley, Colo. He also earned the same honor after Eastern's win at Montana State on Sept. 23.

Bergstrom is from North Bend, Wash., and graduated in 2002 from Mount Si High School before playing two seasons at Shasta Junior College in California.

Bergstrom made long field goals of 56 and 47 yards against Northern Colorado on Oct. 10. His 56 yarder is the second-longest in school history, ranking behind the 57-yarder Stein had 20 years ago against Montana State on Sept. 25, 1987.

In Eastern's 19-10 league victory at Montana State, Bergstrom kicked four field goals. Bergstrom's field goals included a 53-yarder that at the time was the fourth-longest in school history (now fifth).

Bergstrom is in his first year as Eastern's placekicker after previously spending time at safety, wide receiver and defensive end in the Eagle program.

 

Eagle Tidbits: Punter Ryan Donckers has been consistent in his three seasons as Eastern's punter with a 39.0 average in both 2004 and 2005, and a current average of 42.4 this season. His career average of 40.3 currently ranks fifth in school history. In a five-game stretch from Sept. 16-Oct. 14, he had a 46.1 average in 25 punts with eight downed inside the opponent 20-yard line and a long of 66. He had a school-record 71-yard punt against Northern Arizona on Oct. 28, and now owns four of the eight-longest punts in school history (71, 69, 66, 64) . . . Although it is winless at home this season, Eastern has averaged 7,940 fans in four home games. Eastern would need to draw at least 3,690 in the team's season-ending game versus Idaho State on Nov. 11 to break the school record set last year when an average of 7,090 fans attended five home games. The largest crowd in Woodward Field history -- 11,583 -- attended the Eastern-Montana game on Oct. 7. The previous most came two years ago against the Grizzlies when 10,754 attended the game . . . Rover Brandon Keeler has 51 tackles this season, giving him 227 in 40 games as an Eagle. He ranks 14th in Eastern history. At his current pace of 5.7 tackles per game, Keeler would finish with 62 tackles this season and 238 in his career which would rank 10th on Eastern's all-time leaders lists. The senior also has four interceptions (one this year versus Central Washington) and seven passes broken up . . . Since coming off his redshirt year versus Montana State, Toke Kefu has rushed for a team-leading 273 yards and three touchdowns. He had 98 yards against Sacramento State and 93 versus Montana State, giving him four performances in his 25-game career of between 89 and 98 yards . . . Running back Ryan Cole went over the 1,000-yard rushing mark in his career versus Central Washington. He now has 1,141 yards in 21 career games with 17 total touchdowns (16 rushing). He has 262 yards this season, including a season-high 79 against Northern Arizona on Oct. 28 . . . Freshman redshirts Matt Nichols and Aaron Boyce hooked-up for a 9-yard touchdown pass against Central Washington. It was the first career touchdown pass for Nichols and the first career touchdown reception for the 6-foot-2 Boyce, who has caught three of the six TD passes Nichols has had thus far. Boyce is a former basketball teammate of EWU standout Rodney Stuckey at Kentwood High School in Kent, Wash., where they helped lead their team to the State 4A title in 2004. . . Another redshirt freshman receiver, Tony Davis, caught his first career touchdown pass from Chris Peerboom on Oct. 28 against Northern Arizona. His first career touchdown was a 60-yard punt return for a touchdown versus Oregon State in his first game as an Eagle. A third redshirt freshman, Brynsen Brown, has caught three touchdown passes thus far, including two against Northern Arizona when he finished with nine catches for 138 yards. His first touchdown came against Montana on Oct. 7 . . . Boyce, Davis and Brown have combined for 104 catches for 1,392 yards and seven touchdowns thus far. All three have between 32 and 40 catches and 436 and 495 yards receiving thus far . . . Eastern has had 11 interceptions this season, including two by senior DeNique Ford, junior Gregor Smith and junior Anthony Dotson. The others have been recorded by David Eneberg, Makai Borden, Nick Denbeigh, Ira Jarmon and Brandon Keeler . . . Eastern had just four sacks in its first five games, but has had 12 in four games since then. The Eagles had five versus Montana, one versus Northern Colorado, four more against Portland State and two versus Northern Arizona. End Greg Peach leads the team with 3 1/2, and linebacker David Eneberg has three . . . True freshman Jesse Hoffman had 124 yards on 16 carries against Northern Colorado for the top performance on the team this season. Said Wulff: "We know he has a lot of talent. It's just a matter of giving him more and more carries in tighter ballgames. When you have a true freshman at that position, you're a little leery sometimes. But we know he has great potential and is only going to get better."

 

EWU Injury Report: Eagle head coach Paul Wulff reports that safety Gregor Smith (shoulder) will have surgery and miss the rest of the season. He was injured against Portland State and missed the Northern Arizona game.

Wulff also said that defensive end Jacob Kragt (ankle), who made the first start of his career against Portland State, is questionable this week. Kragt was injured versus PSU and didn't play against Northern Arizona. Wulff said that tight end Tim Calhoun is probable against Weber State after missing three games. He had surgery to repair ligament damage following a thumb injury he suffered against Montana on Oct. 7.

Safety Nick Denbeigh was questionable for the Northern Colorado game on Oct. 14 after suffering an elbow injury against Montana, but was able to play and even start after a brace was shipped directly to Greeley, Colo., where the game was played. His injury against Montana came after he intercepted a pass earlier in the game despite having a heavily-wrapped hand because of a broken bone he suffered in EWU's season opener at Oregon State. For four games, Denbeigh played with a cast.

Free safety Bryan Jarrett (ankle) and linebacker Shea Emry (hip flexor) returned against Montana after suffering injuries against Central Washington. Center Chris Carlsen (knee) is also back after suffering his injury at Oregon State.

Running back Dale Morris (foot) started against Montana at running back after missing the first five games with a pre-season injury. However, Morris re-aggravated the injury and is lost for the season.


 

2006 Eagles at a Glance: Eastern is coming off back-to-back seasons in which it won a share of the Big Sky Conference title and advanced to the NCAA Division I-AA Playoffs. Eastern returned 41 letter winners from that team, including 19 on offense, 20 on defense, its kicker and its punter. In all, 14 starters are back, with experience heaviest at safety and along the offensive and defensive lines.

But replacing the incredible contributions of eight amazingly productive seniors will prove to be difficult indeed. Eastern lost the 2005 Walter Payton Award winner and Big Sky Offensive MVP (quarterback Erik Meyer), the Big Sky Defensive MVP (middle linebacker Joey Cwik), a two-time All-America receiver (Eric Kimble), three other wide receivers and a pair of starting cornerbacks.

Wulff has replaced Meyer with junior Chris Peerboom and freshman redshirt Matt Nichols. They were to split playing time early in the season to see which quarterback leads the offense the best, but Peerboom missed two games with a concussion suffered in the opener against Oregon State. Replacing the play-making abilities of Kimble will be equally difficult.

"They are two of the best players to ever play in this conference," said Wulff. "But in the game of football there are 11 players on the field, and we feel like we have a program that can be extremely successful with whatever 11 players we put out there. That's not going to change."

Among the players returning are 11 players who earned All-Big Sky Conference accolades in 2005. First team selections included safety Bryan Jarrett and offensive guard Matt Alfred, who also earned a pair of All-America accolades as well.

Second team choices returning include former OSU running back Ryan Cole, who rushed for 879 yards and 14 touchdowns for the Eagles last year. Safety Brandon Keeler, tight end and Tim Calhoun, defensive lineman Harrison Nikolao were also second team picks, but Nikolao has moved over to a starting offensive guard position for his senior season.

Honorable mention All-Big Sky picks a year ago included Rocky Hanni (offensive guard), Nick Denbeigh (outside linebacker), David Eneberg (inside linebacker), Sheldon Weddle (kicker) and Shea Emry (special teams). As a freshman in 2004, Hanni was honored as an All-American after earning Big Sky Conference Newcomer of the Year honors -- the only offensive lineman in the history of the award to win that honor. He has moved to tackle this season.

Last season, Eastern garnered the league's automatic berth in the NCAA Division I-AA Playoffs with a 7-4 record overall and 5-2 conference mark following an eventful final two weeks of the regular season. The 21st-ranked Eagles defeated the 11th-ranked Bobcats 35-14 on Nov. 12 and the following week MSU upset Montana 16-6 to force a three-way tie for the title and give EWU the automatic berth by virtue of a season sweep over the Montana schools.

In the Big Sky Conference preseason polls, Eastern was picked to finish second by the coaches and sixth by the media. Montana State was picked third by the coaches and second by the media. Montana, which shared the conference title last year with EWU and MSU, was picked first in both polls.

 

SERIES HISTORY & NOTES

Series History: The series is even at 12-12 after Weber State has won two of the last three following a streak of four-straight wins for the Eagles. Eastern has a 6-7 record on the road and a 6-5 mark in home games.

In 2004, Eastern scored 28 points in an 8:53 span in the second quarter and went on to defeat the winless Wildcats 51-7. Eastern scored its five first-half touchdowns on two touchdown runs, an interception return, a blocked punt recovered for a touchdown and a 73-yard punt return for a touchdown by junior scoring machine Eric Kimble. With senior running backs Darius Washington and Reggie Witherspoon nursing injuries, sophomore Dezmon Cole received the first start of his career. He finished with 199 yards, including 67 on a touchdown run on Eastern's first offensive play of the second half. True freshman Toke Kefu added 89 yards rushing. Eastern's other offensive standouts -- quarterback Erik Meyer and Kimble -- hardly broke a sweat. Meyer completed 5-of-7 passes for 68 yards and Kimble caught just one pass for four yards. In all, Eastern out-gained Weber State in total offense 416-147, with Eastern rushing for 295 yards.

In 2003 in Cheney, Nick Chournos had 176 of his 194 rushing yards in the second half -- and also added a 19-yard touchdown pass for good measure -- as Weber State defeated Eastern Washington 35-23 in the Big Sky Conference football opener for both teams. Weber State scored 21 unanswered points to overcome an early 10-0 Eagle lead. Sophomore Erik Meyer passed for 270 yards and accounted for two touchdowns for the Eagles, and junior Reggie Witherspoon added a career-high 135 rushing with another score. Eastern had 442 yards of total offense to Weber State's 414. However, the Wildcats had 172 net rushing yards in the second half on 25 carries (6.9 per carry) after getting just 71 in the first half on 17 carries (4.2 per carry).

In 2002 in Ogden, Eastern scored 24-straight points in the middle portion of the game to defeat Weber State 38-20. Jovan Griffith rushed for 163 yards and three touchdowns and Josh Blankenship completed 25-of-38 passes for 300 yards and two touchdowns in the win. Griffith and Blankenship accounted for 463 of Eastern's 499 offensive yards in the game. Eric Kimble caught four passes for 101 yards, including a 46-yard touchdown pass from Blankenship. Joey Cwik led the Eagles with seven tackles and had one of five sacks the Eagles recorded against WSU. Freshman cornerback Jesse Hendrix added six tackles, and deflected a pass that was intercepted by fellow freshman cornerback Isaiah Trufant.

In 2001, the number 22 was as lucky as lucky can be for record-breaking running back Jesse Chatman. On his 22nd birthday in his 22nd game as an Eagle on the 22nd of September, Chatman rushed for 206 yards and two touchdowns as the Eagles rolled past Weber State 50-32. Eastern scored all 10 times it had the ball (with the exception of a 36-second possession to end the game) as Troy Griggs kicked a school-record five field goals en route to 565 yards of total offense by the Eagles. Quarterback Fred Salanoa completed 25-of-36 passes for 313 yards and four touchdowns. He hit true freshman tight end Chris Cwik for a 1-yard touchdown pass in the first half before hitting Lamont Brightful for a 15-yard score. Chatman's first touchdown gave Eastern a 24-6 lead. Weber State came no closer than 11 the rest of the way.

In 2000, Troy Griggs kicked a 23-yard field goal to end the second overtime period and help Eastern Washington pull out a 27-24 victory over Weber State in Ogden. Down 17-10 in the last minute, the Eagles drove 71 yards to score a game-tying touchdown with 16 seconds to play and send the game into overtime. Quarterback Chris Samms, filling in for starting quarterback Fred Salanoa who suffered a minor concussion in the first quarter, started the drive with three incompletions. But he completed six of his next seven passes, capped by a 14-yard touchdown pass to Lance Ballew with 16 seconds to play. Griggs kicked the extra point to send the game into overtime. In the first overtime, Samms passed to Shaylon Reed for nine yards before hitting him again with a 10-yard touchdown. However, Weber State sent the game to a second overtime when Johnnie Gray scored from two yards out. The Wildcats got the ball to start the second overtime, and on their second play at Eastern's 10-yard-line, Ole Olesen stepped in front of a Wildcat receiver to intercept a pass, setting up the game-winning field goal.

In a season-ending dogfight in 1999 at Albi Stadium in Spokane. Eastern scored 16-straight points in the second half to overcome a 20-14 deficit, then held on for the 30-27 win. Eagle punter Nick Reynolds had perhaps the biggest play of the game when he booted a 47-yard punt with 9:41 to play that was downed at the Wildcat 2-yard line. The Eagles forced WSU to punt, then scored on their next possession to take a 10-point lead with 2:25 to play. Eastern had 325 yards of total offense, including 156 rushing yards and three touchdowns by Jovan Griffith. Quarterback Chris Samms completed 12-of-20 passes for 170 yards and a 49-yard touchdown to Joe Levens, who finished the game with five catches for 115 yards. The Wildcats had 357 yards of total offense and had just one turnover, but that was a costly fourth-quarter fumble forced by Brad Packer and recovered by Greg Belzer.

In 1998, Weber State countered a go-ahead Eagle touchdown in the fourth quarter with a touchdown of its own with 2:24 left to take the lead for good and defeat Eastern Washington 27-23 in Ogden. Freshman Dan Curley caught six passes for 117 yards and a touchdown for the Eagles. The game featured six lead changes, including four in the second half. In all four of Eastern's Big Sky losses that season, the Eagles took a fourth-quarter lead only to have the opponent regain the lead for good on the next possession. Those four losses were by a total of just 13 points, including a trio of three-point setbacks.

In Eastern's 1997 win, Mike MacKenzie rushed for 172 yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries. He also caught three passes for 44 more yards as the Eagles finished with 534 yards of total offense (255 rushing, 279 passing). Steve Correa, who would go on to serve as an assistant coach at Weber State, caught five passes for 119 yards and two touchdowns, and Harry Leons completed 18-of-31 passes for 279 yards. The Eagles held the Wildcats to a net 22 yards on the ground as they recorded eight quarterback sacks.

In the 1996 game in Ogden, the Eagles led 20-13 in the fourth quarter before the Wildcats rallied for the win. Scott Shields had eight tackles, an interception and punted twice for a 39.5 average to go along with three field goals including the game winner. In 1997 he had 14 tackles, an interception and fumble recovery, plus kicked one field goal and had a 44.1 average in seven punts. As a freshman in 1995, Shields kicked two field goals in the 40-30 Wildcat win.

 

Last Year - Weber State 28, #6 Eastern Washington 23: Ian Pizarro found Wiley King for fourth-quarter touchdown passes of 45 and 69 yards as Weber State rallied for a 28-23 victory over sixth-ranked Eastern Washington Oct. 22 in front of a Homecoming crowd of 8,696 at Woodward Field in Cheney, Wash.

"We didn't play good enough the whole game," said Eagle head coach Paul Wulff. "We gave up too many big plays on defense and on offense we were unable to sustain any consistent drives. We were limping around and we just didn't deserve to win."

The Eagles took a 23-14 lead in the fourth quarter on a Lars Slind 3-yard run, but the Wildcats scored the next two times they had the ball. King's first touchdown came with 10:05 left, and the game-winner was with 6:20 to play.

Eastern's offense had three-and-outs on two of its last three possessions. And the possession that wasn't included a 31-yard pass from Erik Meyer to Tyler Coleman that was called back because of an offensive pass interference penalty. Eastern ended up punting on that possession as well.

Meyer completed 20-of-34 passes for 301 yards and one touchdown, but was sacked five times. Weber State's Brady Fosmark had three of the sacks as he finished with a team-high 11 tackles.

"I'm not going to sit here and complain about anything other than our own lack of execution and doing the right things," said Wulff. "We were flat, we didn't play good football and we didn't execute like we should."

Ryan Cole added 111 yards rushing on 26 carries, and Eagle receivers Eric Kimble and Raul Vijil combined for 165 yards and 13 receptions. Kimble had 136 yards on six catches, and Vijil had 129 on seven grabs with the team's lone touchdown through the air.

Brandon Keeler and Nick Denbeigh led the Eagles with eight tackles each, and Bryan Jarrett added seven. All three are secondary players as Eastern's leading tackler from the linebacker position was Joey Cwik with five. The leader on the defensive line was Keith Grennan with four.

Eastern had 421 yards of total offense after it entered the game leading NCAA Division I-AA with an average of 511.3 per game. Weber State finished with 426 yards as Pizarro passed for 292 yards and four touchdowns.

"We didn't block very well, we didn't pass block very well and we didn't run block consistently enough today," he added. "Erik and Eric cramped up and we started to get a little limited and we just couldn't function. We just didn't do as well today as we could have, particularly in our line play."

The Eagles scored five times to Weber's four, but three of them were field goals by Sheldon Weddle as he converted on kicks of 19, 31 and 46 yards. His two kicks gave Eastern a 6-0 lead to cap drives of 78 and 74 yards.

Vijil caught his 15-yard touchdown with 2:45 left in the first half to put Eastern up 13-0. But the Wildcats drove 80 yards on 13 plays to pull within 13-7 at halftime.

After another Weddle field goal in the third quarter, Weber State came even closer at 16-14 with a 92-yard drive. Eastern appeared to take command again early in the fourth quarter with a 65-yard drive on just five plays, keyed by a 54-yard catch and run by Kimble.

However, Eastern had just 54 yards on its three possessions after that. The two three-and-out possessions -- Eastern's only two of the game -- were for a net loss of two yards.

"I'm not surprised," said Wulff of the loss to the Wildcats, coached by Ron McBride. The former Utah head coach took over after the Wildcats finished 1-10 last year under long-time EWU assistant Jerry Graybeal, who is now the WSU athletic director.

"This was a good football team -- they returned eighteen starters, they have a ton of seniors and they are a big physical football team," said Wulff. "I knew that if we got into a close game down the stretch that there would be hell to pay. We didn't play good enough to put them away today. We were ahead before that last touchdown and we had that offensive pass interference play against us -- that was a big play. We just weren't running on all cylinders today."

Eastern was playing its only home game in a five-game stretch, and disappointed a Homecoming crowd that was the second-best in Woodward Field history. The only crowd larger at Woodward was 10,754 last year against Montana.

 

Paul Wulff QUOTES

On Running Game Helping Passing Game Versus Montana State: "There is no question that the running game loosens up the other team's defense. Their pass rush isn't as effective and gives our quarterback more time to throw the ball. It gave Matt Nichols some confidence. What he didn't do against Central but did against Montana State was step up in the pocket. It's a credit to him that he stepped up and made plays."

On Playing I-A Opponents: "All of the coaches in our conference take pride in playing I-A programs. At the end of the game those opposing players and coaches realize we are well-coached and play good football. Generally we garner a lot more respect after we played them than entering the ballgame. At the same time you want to take care of your team first and get better."

On Inexperienced Players: "It's one of those situations where it's going to be baptism by fire, and we'll just have to find out. I think our players will go in, play well, compete and learn a lot. We are going to make plays and we're going to make mistakes too. But I'm excited, and in the big picture, those games will help us once we get into conference play."

On Secondary: "I think our safety position is the best it's ever been at this university. We have some great players there. We feel very comfortable with one cornerback and need to develop one more, but I think our safeties are outstanding."

On Big Sky Race: "This is going to be a year where some teams are going to emerge halfway to three-quarters through the season. I'll be honest, I think it can be any one of eight teams -- I don't think anybody knows. Teams change throughout the season."

On Legacy Left by Erik Meyer and Eric Kimble: "They provided a different level of play in terms of performance, excitement and higher expectations. They left a mark that will never be taken away. The provided expectations and competitiveness that other players can look up to. They can see what it takes to be a great player and what it takes to be a trendsetter. Those guys were."

On Offensive Line: "I think there is potential to be really good, but to be honest, they have yet to prove that they are really good. It's all based on speculation and returning veterans with experience. They have not gelled and they have not had the opportunity to really do great things yet. And this season we need them to and we are really hoping they develop into a fine unit. Ultimately we need them to help us win ballgames."

On Defense in the Big Sky: "We have some very good defenses this year. I think defense is going to be the strong point of this conference."

On Building Streak of Seven-Straight Winning Seasons: "It's what you work a lot of long hours for over the course of time to develop your program. By no means we where we want to be, but we have definitely made some steps and we are going in the right direction. We've made some strides and we need to keep moving forward."

 

PRE-SEASON RANKINGS & INDIVIDUAL HONORS

Eagles Unranked in Pre-Season Poll: After spending the entire 2005 season and most of 2004 nationally-ranked, Eastern Washington started the 2006 season out of the Sports Network NCAA Division I-AA Top 25 Poll. That snapped a string of 20-straight polls in which EWU was ranked by the media members and sports information directors who vote in the TSN poll.

However, the Eagles received enough votes to rank 26th. Eastern was ranked 23rd in the AGS (Any Given Saturday) pre-season poll and was also ranked 23rd in the pre-season by the Football Gazette. Eastern's 2006 opponents in the TSN pre-season poll include Montana (2nd) and Montana State (17th).

The Eagles finished 13th in the final Sports Network NCAA Division I-AA Poll of the 2005 season. Eastern entered 2005 ranked fourth nationally, but slipped to sixth after losing its season-opener at San Jose State. Eastern was fifth for two-straight weeks before a loss at Idaho State dropped it to 14th. Eastern spent one week at 15th before moving up to 12th prior to knocking off Montana, which catapulted the Eagles into sixth. But a 28-23 home loss to Weber State on Oct. 22 dropped the Eagles eight spots to 14th before jumping up to 11th a week later. A 40-35 loss at Cal Poly dropped Eastern to 21st -- the lowest ranking for the Eagles all season. Eastern moved to 19th after a 35-14 home win over 11th-ranked Montana State, then was 15th after closing the regular season with a win over UC Davis.

Eastern finished the 2004 season ranked a season-high seventh, thanks to a victory over No. 1 ranked and top-seeded Southern Illinois in the first round of the NCAA Division I-AA Playoffs. Eastern ranked in the top 25 seven times in the 2004 season, including the last six times the poll was released.

 

Coaches Pick Eagles Second: The Eastern Washington University football team has been picked to finish anywhere from second to fifth as the Big Sky Conference preseason coaches and media polls were released July 17 at the Big Sky Conference Summer Kickoff in Park City, Utah.

The Eagles, who shared Big Sky titles the last two years and advanced to the NCAA Division I-AA Playoffs both seasons, were picked second by the coaches and fifth by the media. In 2005, Eastern was picked to win the title it eventually shared with Montana.

The uncertainty, however, is created by the fact the Eagles lost Payton Award-winning quarterback Erik Meyer, four receivers including record-breaking Eric Kimble, a pair of cornerbacks and middle linebacker Joey Cwik, who was the Big Sky's Defensive Player of the Year. But with 41 letter winners back -- including 10 who earned All-Big Sky Conference recognition a year ago -- the Eagles expect to contend for the title once again in 2006.

"I think this will be a year where we will surprise a lot of teams," said Eagle lineman Harrison Nikolao, who was Eastern's player representative at the Summer Kickoff. "Everyone has lost a lot of players throughout the conference. People look at us and see that we lost Erik Meyer, Eric Kimble and the core of our wide receivers. Teams are going to look at us as being suspect in certain things and weak in certain areas, which we are. But we're going to be stronger as a team this year than in the past three years."

The 6-foot-2, 295-pound Nikolao will be a key figure in that strength. He was a second team All-Big Sky defensive lineman last year, but has moved to an offensive guard position heading into his senior season. The 2002 graduate of Lincoln High School in Tacoma, Wash., has a team-high 24 games of starting experience as an Eagle, including a stint as a two-way player in 2004.

"We thrive on competing and that is not going to change," Nikolao added. "We are only going to improve. That's what Eastern Football is all about."

In the coaches poll, Montana was picked to win the title and received eight of the nine first-place votes. Montana State was picked third and plays the Eagles in the league opener for both teams on Sept. 23 in Bozeman, Mont. Portland State was picked fourth followed by Idaho State, Weber State, Northern Arizona, Sacramento State and league newcomer Northern Colorado.

The media poll also had Montana on top, with the Grizzlies receiving 28 of 32 first-place votes. Montana, which plays at Eastern on Oct. 7, was followed by Montana State, Weber State, Portland State, Idaho State, Eastern, Northern Arizona, Sacramento State and Northern Colorado.

 

Alfred and Hanni Earn Pre-Season All-America Honors From The Sports Network and I-AA.Org: After two productive seasons as underclassmen, Eastern Washington University offensive linemen Matt Alfred and Rocky Hanni have been selected as pre-season All-Americans by The Sports Network and its NCAA Division I-AA executive director Matt Dougherty. Later, that same duo earned the same honor as first team All-America selections by I-AA.Org.

Alfred, a 6-foot-3, 300-pound guard from Gig Harbor, Wash. (Gig Harbor HS '03), was selected to the first team. The 6-5, 290-pound Hanni earned honorable mention, and is from Sumner, Wash. (Sumner HS '03).

Alfred was a first team All-America and All-Big Sky pick in 2005 after helping the Eagles rank fourth nationally in total offense with an average of 477.8 yards per game. He has started as either a guard or tackle in Eastern's last 22 games the past two seasons as EWU has won a share of two Big Sky Conference titles, made two appearances in the I-AA Playoffs and has a 16-9 record.

As a freshman in 2004, Hanni was the first-ever offensive lineman to win Big Sky Newcomer of the Year honors. The 6-5, 290-pound Hanni also earned All-America honors that season and has started all 23 games as an Eagle. He moved from tackle to guard as a sophomore, but is expected to return to tackle in 2006.

 

Football Gazette Honors Seven In-State Eagles: Seven Eastern Washington University football players -- all from the state of Washington -- have been selected to the Football Gazette preseason NCAA Division I-AA All-America team.

Matt Alfred, a junior from Gig Harbor, Wash., earned first team honors as an offensive guard. Running back Ryan Cole from Port Orchard, Wash., was a second team selection.

The remainder of players recognized received honorable mention. They included tight end Tim Calhoun from Zillah, Wash., offensive tackle Rocky Hanni from Sumner, Wash., linebacker David Eneberg from Mukilteo, Wash., defensive back Bryan Jarrett from Puyallup, Wash., and Brandon Keeler from Federal Way, Wash.

 

Trio of Eagles on Preseason All-Big Sky team: Eastern Washington senior tight end Tim Calhoun, junior offensive guard Matt Alfred and junior safety Bryan Jarrett have been selected to the preseason All-Big Sky Conference team as selected by members of the media.

All three players received All-Big Sky recognition a year ago when Calhoun was selected to the second team and Alfred and Jarrett were both first team selections. Alfred also earned All-America honors.

Calhoun is a 2002 graduate from Zillah, Wash., High School, and has caught 46 passes for 591 yards and five touchdowns in his career. He earned honorable mention All-Big Sky honors as a true freshman before missing the 2003 and 2004 seasons because of injuries.

Alfred has started 22 career games as a guard and tackle, and is a 2003 graduate of Gig Harbor, Wash., High School. In each of the last two years, Eastern has ranked fourth in NCAA Division I-AA in offense with averages of nearly 500 yards per game. His younger brother Kenny is an offensive lineman at Washington State University.

Jarrett transferred to Eastern after playing one season at Western Washington University, and is a 2003 graduate of Puyallup, Wash., High School. He had 59 tackles, two passes broken up and an interception as an eight-game starter in his first season as an Eagle in 2005.

Those players helped lead the Eagles to a second-straight league title and NCAA Division I-AA Playoff berth in 2005.

 

Eagles Announce Spring Award Winners: At Eastern's Red-White Spring Football game, head coach Paul Wulff announced that junior guard Matt Alfred and senior linebacker David Eneberg will serve as co-captains in the 2006 season. Alfred is a 2003 graduate of Gig Harbor, Wash., High School, and Eneberg graduated in 2002 from Kamiak High School in Mukilteo, Wash.

Also at the game, Wulff handed out strength and conditioning awards to Alfred, running back Ryan Cole, cornerback Adam Macomber and defensive end Jason Belford. Selected as most improved were cornerback Anthony Dotson and offensive guard Julian Stewart. Winning the "Iron Eagle" awards for academic and athletic achievement during the year were tight end Tom McAndrews and defensive back Bryan Jarrett.

 

 

OTHER NOTES & QUOTES

Bill Diedrick Jr. Inducted Into Hall of Fame: It was an overdue honor, but only because Bill Diedrick Jr. is usually a little busy in the fall.

The Spokane native and former Eastern All-America quarterback was inducted into the Eastern Athletics Hall of Fame on Oct. 28 as part of EWU's Homecoming Football game against Northern Arizona at Woodward Field in Cheney, Wash.

Diedrick led Eastern to the NAIA Championship game in 1967, earning All-America honors for a squad that was the inaugural team inducted into Eastern's Hall of Fame in 2001. Established in 1996, the Hall of Fame currently includes three teams and Diedrick will become the 35th individual member. He was selected for induction in 2005, but was unable to attend the semi-annual induction ceremonies because of his coaching commitments.

Besides being a record-breaking quarterback at Eastern, Diedrick has spent more than 30 years coaching high school, collegiate and professional football. He went on to an illustrious collegiate coaching career with stops at Montana State, Idaho, Washington State, Washington, Stanford, Notre Dame and the Canadian Football League. Currently, he is coaching quarterbacks and wide receivers for the Calgary Stampeders in the Canadian Football League.

"Spending 36 years in coaching have given me a lot of wonderful honors and opportunities," said Diedrick, who has had 13 different stops in his coaching career. "But none compare to the three honors I received as a player -- playing for a national championship, being named an All-American and now being selected into the Hall of Fame at Eastern."

Calgary finished with the second-most wins in the league and begins the playoffs on Nov. 5. A break in the sechedule enabled him to return to the Spokane area where his mother Lillian still resides.

Bill's father, Bill Diedrick Sr., passed away on April 3, 2005, and is already a member of the Inland Northwest Hall of Fame Scroll of Honor in recognition for the 70 years he spent in the region as an athlete, coach, trainer and groundskeeper. A 1942 Eastern graduate, "Mouse" was also inducted into the Washington State Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 1979.

Diedrick was a second team NAIA All-America selection for Eastern in 1967 when he quarterbacked the team to an 11-1 record and an appearance in the NAIA Championship game. Eastern lost that game 28-21 to Fairmont State, but it marked the high point in a revival of Eastern football under head coach Dave Holmes. Before the arrival of Holmes -- who is an inaugural member of Eastern's Hall of Fame -- Eastern was winless in the 1961 and 1962 seasons.

"I truly believe the lessons we were taught by our coaches have really been the foundation and guiding focus in my coaching career," said Diedrick.

A graduate of Spokane's North Central High School, Diedrick played for Eastern in 1965 (8-1), 1966 (7-1-1), 1967 (11-1) and 1969 (4-5) for a collective record of 30-8-1. In his career he completed 274-of-532 passes (51.5 percent) for 4,076 yards, 50 touchdowns and 27 interceptions. His career passing efficiency rating of 136.7 stood as a record for nearly 30 years, as did his single season rating of 157.0 in 1967.

He completed 121-of-221 passes (55 percent) for 1,995 yards and 25 touchdowns in 1967, with his touchdown total standing as a school record for 34 years until being broken in the 2001 season.

"I recall the closeness and chemistry we had as a team," said Diedrick of the Eastern teams he played on. "We were a collection from all over the state of Washington -- mostly from small communities and a few of us from larger cities. We cared about one another and the only important thing was playing well, not letting your teammates down and winning. We had some very intense rivalries with Central and Western. Years later, many of these hated players from opposing teams became very close friends in the coaching ranks."

Diedrick also played baseball at Eastern, and was the school's batting champion in 1969 with a .298 average. He graduated from Eastern in 1970, and received his master's degree in 1971 from the University of Hawaii where he served as a graduate assistant under Holmes.

"I will always treasure my days at Eastern," he said, "from my first training camp as a young freshman to the day I departed Cheney to begin my coaching career."

More on Diedrick and the Eastern Athletics Hall of Fame can be found at: http://goeags.cstv.com/hallfame/ewas-hallfame.html

 

What a Difference a Week Makes: A near-perfect first half opened a 31-0 lead at halftime against Northern Colorado on Oct. 14, but since then, Eastern's offense has managed just a field goal in the second half versus UNC. Eastern went from a 34-0 shutout against the Bears to losing by the same score on Oct. 21 at Portland State. Those are the only shutouts -- for or against -- the Eagles have had in 148 Big Sky Conference games.

Eastern scored four touchdowns in the first 19 minutes of the game against UNC as redshirt freshman quarterback Matt Nichols led four touchdown drives of 81, 72, 37 and 14 yards. Eastern's 291 yards of offense in the first half was more than the 288.7 Eastern was averaging entering the game. Eastern finished the game with a season-high 478 yards of total offense while holding the Bears to 169.

The UNC win was Eastern's first shutout in 215 games dating back to a 3-0 win over Stephen F. Austin in 1987. The Bears ended drives in Eastern territory just three times, including two inside the 26. Both of those ended in interceptions with the deepest penetration to Eastern's 17.

Against Portland State, the Eagles were shut-out for the first time in 205 games dating back to a 51-0 loss to North Texas in 1988. The deepest penetration for Eastern came in the fourth quarter when the Eagles drove to the PSU 19 but turned the ball over on downs. Only two other possessions finished in Viking territory as EWU finished with just 164 yards of offense.

"We should," said Wulff after the PSU loss when asked if his team had something to prove at home this week where the Eagles are 0-3. "That's the bottom line. We need to get better from this game."

"We need to grow up and understand that every week you have to play," he added. "You don't just play good for one week and not show up the next and not execute very well."

 

Woodward Kind to Opponents: Woodward Field has been kind thus far to opponents. Besides a 33-17 loss to Montana, EWU fell 21-14 to Central Washington Sept. 16, 21-20 to Sacramento State on Sept. 30 and 44-36 to Northern Arizona on Nov. 28.

Montana jumped out to a 21-0 lead in the first quarter, but in the two previous losses Eastern relinquished second-half leads. Central and Sac State scored 36 of their 42 combined points in the second half. Eastern rallied from a 14-point deficit against Northern Arizona to take a 22-20 lead, but the Lumberjacks pulled away by scoring 24 unanswered points.

Eastern is 0-4 at Woodward Field this season after entering the year with a 35-9 record in the last nine seasons. Of the 13 losses EWU has suffered there since 1997, three of them have been against Sacramento State. The others are Portland State (2), Weber State (2), Montana (2), Idaho State, Northern Arizona, Sam Houston State and Central Washington.

 

Eneberg and Bergstrom Earn Player of the Week Honors Again: There is a definite pattern.

Linebacker David Eneberg and kicker Brett Bergstrom both earned Big Sky Conference Player of the week honors for the second time this season after helping Eastern defeat Northern Colorado 34-0 Oct. 14 in Greeley, Colo.

Both were also honored three weeks earlier after Eastern's only other victory this season at Montana State on Sept. 23.

"It's awesome and a little bit ironic," said Eagle head coach Paul Wulff of the twin honors for the pair. "In our two conference road wins, David and Brett have played big, big roles in those victories."

Eneberg had six tackles, an interception, a forced fumble and had two passes broken up in EWU's first shutout in 20 years against Northern Colorado. All of his statistics except for one tackle came during a near-perfect first half when Eastern opened a 31-0 lead at halftime.

"David played one of his best games," said Wulff. "He made a lot of big plays and tackled very well. He's a great leader."

Bergstrom made long field goals of 56 and 47 yards against the Bears. His 56-yard field goal is the second-longest in school history, ranking behind the 57-yarder Eric Stein had 20 years ago against Montana State on Sept. 25, 1987.

"We try not to make them too long," laughed Wulff. "But we feel confident -- and I know he does -- that he can make them from there. And he did.

In Eastern's 19-10 league victory at Montana State, Eneberg had 13 tackles and Bergstrom kicked four field goals. Bergstrom's field goals included a 53-yarder that at the time was the fourth-longest in school history (now fifth).

Those honors were the first player of the week honors for both players. Eneberg was an honorable mention All-Big Sky selection last year and Bergstrom is in his first year as Eastern's placekicker after previously spending time at safety, wide receiver and defensive end in the Eagle program.

 

Eastern Records First Shutout in 20 Years: Eastern's 34-0 victory at Northern Colorado on Oct. 14 was the first time in 215 games that EWU has recorded a shutout. The Bears, who finished with just 169 yards of total offense, ended drives in Eastern territory just three times, including two inside the 26. Both of those ended in interceptions with the deepest penetration to Eastern's 17.

The last time EWU had a shutout was a 3-0 win over Stephen F. Austin in 1987. Eastern came close twice in the previous two seasons. On Nov. 19, 2005, at home against UC-Davis and Oct. 23, 2004, at Weber State, the Eagles held their opponents without an offensive score. Versus UC Davis, the Aggies scored on a 50-yard interception return in the third quarter. Against Weber State, the Wildcats scored a touchdown on a fumble recovery with just 4:43 left to play.

Eastern had held opponents to single digits in 23 games since the last shutout, but wasn't able to shut them out. On Sept. 18, 2004, in a 39-8 victory, Eastern held Central Washington to eight points as the Wildcats scored with 4:52 left in the third quarter. Holding Idaho scoreless for the final 54:29 in an 8-5 victory in 2003 was about as close as Eastern has come to a shutout, as well as a 1994 game when Cal Poly scored with 21 seconds left in Eastern's 61-7 blowout win. The five points Idaho scored were the fewest Eastern had allowed since beating Idaho State 37-3 in 1992. The 13 combined points were the fewest in an EWU game since the 3-0 win over Stephen F. Austin.

 

More From the Irony Department: The come-from-behind victory by the Seattle Seahawks over the St. Louis Rams on Oct. 15 included a game-winning drive that was amazingly similar to Eastern's drive a day earlier to end the first half versus Northern Colorado. Eastern used an eight-play, 48-yard drive in the last 1:42 of the half to set-up a 56-yard field goal by Brett Bergstrom. The Seahawks ended the final 1:44 of its game with an eight-play, 47-yard drive that ended with a game-winning 54-yard field goal by Josh Brown.

 

Eastern 1-5 Start Rare: Starting the season 1-5, you have to go back to 1983 to find a year when the Eagles had won just once in six games to start the season. That year the Eagles were 0-5 before winning their last five games. This week, Eastern will try to avoid a 1-6 start that hasn't occurred since 1963. The year before that 3-6 season, Eastern was 0-8-1.

In 1995, Eastern had a young and inexperienced team at several positions much like this year's team. That squad won its first two games, then lost eight of its final nine to finish 3-8. Two years later in 1997, Eastern finished 12-2 and advanced to the semifinals of the NCAA Division I-AA Playoffs.

 

A Taste of the Eagle-Grizzly Rivalry: In a series that has provided plenty of drama over the years -- including 2005 -- Montana now leads the all-time series 22-10-1. Eastern is 4-11-1 in Missoula, 5-10 in home games and 1-1 in games played at neutral sites. In six of the last 11 meetings between the two teams, both teams have entered the game nationally-ranked.

Seven recent games in the series that have been decided by margins of 10 points or less are the exclamation points in a rivalry that has seen the Grizzlies come out on top 21 times in 32 meetings. The winner has usually piled up points and yardage by the ton as evidenced by Eastern's 653 yards of total offense in 1997 in a 40-35 win, and 541 yards by the Eagles in a 34-20 win in Missoula in 2005. In fact, in the last 22 meetings the winning team has averaged 34.3 points. In six of those 22 games the two teams have combined for at least 70 points, including a 41-31 Grizzly win at Spokane's Albi Stadium in 2000.

As for suspense, that one's covered too. In 2004 Montana blocked a 28-yard field goal attempt by the Eagles with 18 seconds remaining as the 23rd-ranked Eagles fell to the fifth-ranked Grizzlies 31-28 in a showdown for first place in front of a Woodward Field record crowd of 10,754. In 2002 Eastern beat the No. 1 ranked and unbeaten Grizzlies 30-21, ending Montana's NCAA Division I-AA record-tying winning streak at 24 games. It was the first Big Sky Conference loss for UM head coach Joe Glenn, and snapped Montana's record winning streaks of 25 Big Sky games in a row and 13 league road games in a row. And in the process, the Eagle victory opened the door for Montana State and Idaho State to share the conference title with the Grizzlies.

Here are the six matchups in the last 10 seasons when both squads have entered the game nationally-ranked:

2005 - #12 Eastern Washington 34 at #2 Montana 20 (in Missoula, Mont.)

2004 - #5 Montana 31, #23 Eastern Washington 28 (in Cheney, Wash.)

2001 - #3 Montana 29, #15 Eastern Washington 26 (overtime in Missoula, Mont.)

2000 - #9 Montana 41, #18 Eastern Washington 31 (in Spokane, Wash.)

1997 - #17 Eastern Washington 36, #2 Montana 35 (in Missoula, Mont.)

1996 - #1 Montana 34, #20 Eastern Washington 30 (in Cheney, Wash.)

 

Eneberg and Bergstrom Win Big Sky Honors: A week earlier, Eagle senior linebacker and team co-captain David Eneberg helped organize a closed-door, players-only team meeting. On Sept. 23, he and kicker Brett Bergstrom were reveling in the results.

Eneberg was selected as the Big Sky Conference Defensive Player of the Week on Sept. 25 and Bergstrom earned the same award on special teams. Eneberg had 13 tackles and Bergstrom kicked four field goals in Eastern's 19-10 league victory at Montana State Sept. 23.

Eneberg is from Mukilteo, Wash., and is a 2002 graduate of Kamiak High School. Bergstrom is from North Bend, Wash., and graduated the same year from Mount Si High School before playing two seasons at Shasta Junior College in California.

The honors were the first player of the week honors for both players. Eneberg was an honorable mention All-Big Sky selection last year and Bergstrom is in his first year as Eastern's placekicker after previously spending time at safety, wide receiver and defensive end in the Eagle program.

"Both are deserving of those awards," said Eagle head coach Paul Wulff. "David had a great week of practice and it showed in the ballgame. Without a question he's one of our best team leaders."

Eneberg also had a sack and pass broken up against the Bobcats, and both came on third down plays that forced punts in the first half as EWU opened a 9-0 lead at halftime it wouldn't relinquish. Eastern won for the fourth-straight time over MSU and the 5-foot-11, 210-pound Eneberg has played big roles in all four.

As a freshman in 2003, he intercepted a pass that helped seal Eastern's 35-25 win at Albi Stadium in Spokane. A year later, he batted-down a fourth-and-goal pass in overtime to secure Eastern's come-from-behind 51-44 victory that gave Eastern a NCAA Division I-AA Playoff berth. He had four tackles and broke-up a pass in last year's 35-14 victory at Woodward Field.

Eneberg's performance helped Eastern's defense allow just 10 points and 235 yards versus MSU. In the first three games, Eastern allowed an average of 43.0 points and 471.0 yards per game.

"Our defense was much-improved," added Wulff. "We're still not playing championship football yet. But it was an improved effort and now we need to step it up that much more going into game five."

A senior who had never attempted an EWU field goal prior to this season, Bergstrom kicked field goals of 21, 53, 39 and 30 yards versus the Bobcats, with his 53-yarder ranking as the fourth-longest in school history. Three of the kicks came in the first half to give Eastern a 9-0 lead at halftime. His fourth helped Eastern re-gain a nine-point lead in the second half.

 

Bergstrom Finally Finds His Niche: It took a few years and a few positions, but Eagle senior Brett Bergstrom has found his niche.

A senior who had never attempted an EWU field goal prior to this season, Bergstrom kicked four field goals in Eastern's 19-10 victory at Montana State on Sept. 23. He kicked field goals of 21, 53, 39 and 30 yards versus the Bobcats, with his 53-yarder ranking as the fourth-longest in school history. Three of the kicks came in the first half to give Eastern a 9-0 lead at halftime.

"He's a veteran player and has a strong leg," said Eagle head coach Paul Wulff. "We really feel like we have a player that can help us win games. And he did against Montana State."

Not bad for a player who came to Eastern three years ago and went through three positions before finding his calling. He redshirted as a safety in 2004, moved to receiver and even tried defensive end before earning the kicking job.

"It was very frustrating because I thought I had a chance at playing as a safety," Bergstrom said. "But things happen, so I changed positions."

Bergstrom was a kicker at Mount Si High School in North Bend, Wash., then went to Shasta Junior College in California for two seasons. He kicked there too, but initially didn't ask his Eastern coaches to give him an opportunity to kick until about a year ago.

"I never really showed them that I could kick," he said. "But last year I asked them if I could try it, and now I have the chance."

The strong-legged Bergstrom specialized in kickoffs in 2005 before edging out fellow senior Sheldon Weddle for this year's placekicking chores. He averaged 61.0 yards per kickoff as a junior with 23 touchbacks.

Kicking camps in Texas, California and Boise, Idaho, helped him hone his skills in summer 2006. His improvement has turned the kicking game into a strength for the Eagles.

"It does feel good," he said. "At first I didn't really like it because it wasn't that much fun. But I finally got into it this past summer and worked hard at it. I have a lot more things to work on and I just want to get better from here."

Eastern's field goal record is 57 yards set by Eric Stein in a 1986 game at Montana State. That record could be in jeopardy if game situations give Bergstrom the opportunity.

"He kicked a 58-yarder in the rain and wind in our practice at Montana State," added Wulff. "He is certainly capable of kicking it from 60."

"It's all about confidence," added Bergstrom. "You just can't have any doubt that you're going to make it. If you do, you are going to miss it."

 

Rule Change Means Quicker Games: In a rules change designed to speed up play -- but as a result will provide for less plays in the game -- the game clock will be started sooner in several situations. In most circumstances the clock will start on a change of possession on the ready-for-play signal instead of when the ball is snapped. It will also start when the ball is kicked on free kicks (kickoffs), where previously it started when the ball was touched in play.

Thus far, there have been an average of 126.9 plays per game (both Eastern and its opponents). Last year, there were an average of 147.0 plays and the year before that the average was 146.5.

 

Wulff on Rule Changes Regarding Game Clock for 2006: "They expect there will be anywhere from 20 to 25 less plays in a game, and that's a big impact. You have to be that much more efficient and maximize your plays. I think it will affect the game."

 

Eagles 0-2 Start Rare, 0-3 Even Rarer: Only four times since 1963 have the Eagles started the season 0-3. Eastern has never overcome a 0-3 start to finish with a winning record.

In 1998, Eastern lost its first three games of the season after going a school-record 12-2 the year before and advancing to the semifinals of the I-AA Playoffs. The Eagles started the 1988 season with a tie, then lost their next two games en route to a 2-8-1 finish. In 1983, EWU lost its first five games then won its last five to finish 5-5. Before 2004, the 1982 season was the last time Eastern started 0-2 and finished with a winning season as the Eagles won their final eight games to finish 8-2.

This is just the third time since 1983 that the Eagles have started the season 0-2 (EWU became a member of NCAA Division I-AA in 1984). The last time came in 2004 when the Eagles opened with losses at Nicholls State and Humboldt State. The Eagles went on to win nine of their next 10 games -- starting with a victory over Central Washington -- to advance to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Division I-AA Playoffs.

Eagle head coach Paul Wulff has lost his opening game in six of his seven seasons at the helm, but five of those games were against NCAA Division I-A opponents. In 2001, Eastern opened the season with a 35-17 win at I-A Connecticut.

 

EWU Play in Front of Largest Crowd in School History: Eastern's game versus West Virginia at sold-out Milan Puskar Stadium was attended by 59,504 fans -- the largest crowd by nearly 20,000 fans the Eagles have ever played against. The previous record was 39,581 set at Arizona State in 2002. Eastern's game at Oregon State is now the third-largest at 38,071. Below is a list of the 12 crowds in excess of 20,000 the Eagles have ever played against.

Attendance - Opponent - Date - Result

59,504 - at West Virginia - Sept. 9, 2006 - :L, 3-52

39,581 - at Arizona State - Aug. 31, 2002 - L, 2-38

38,071 - at Oregon State - Aug. 31, 2006 - L, 17-56

34,389 - at Air Force - Sept. 11, 2004 - L, 20-42

30,782 - at Oregon State - Sept. 2, 2000 - L, 19-21

27,323 - at U.S. International - Oct. 28, 1967 - W, 44-19

25,493 - at Boise State - Oct. 14, 2000 - L, 23-41

23,739 - at Montana - Oct. 15, 2005 - W, 34-20

23,329 - at Montana - Nov. 15, 2003 - L, 10-41

21,981 - at Boise State - Oct. 9, 1999 - L, 7-41

21.487 - at Boise State - Sept. 21, 1991 - L, 17-31

21,145 - at San Diego State - Aug. 30, 2003 - L, 9-19

 

Wulff on West Virginia Crowd: "It was loud, but I thought it was a good crowd. Our players handled it extremely well. We play in a very loud environment too at the University of Montana. More and more the last few years our players have been exposed to these types of crowds and so they are able to adapt to it."

 

Eagles Versus I-A Members: Since 1982 when it became a member of NCAA Division II (the Eagles became a I-AA team in 1983), Eastern is now 8-13 all-time versus I-A teams. A 35-17 win over Connecticut on Sept. 8, 2001, snapped a five-game losing streak versus I-A foes. Here is Eastern's complete list of games versus NCAA Division I-A members since 1983.

Year - Opponent - Result

1983 - Cal State-Long Beach - W, 20-17

1985 - at Cal State-Long Beach - W, 30-23

1986 - at Cal State-Long Beach - L, 34-35

1990 - at #10 Houston - L, 21-84

1994 - at Utah State - W, 49-31

1996 - at Boise State - W, 27-21

1996 - at Idaho - L, 27-37

1997 - Idaho - W, 24-21

1998 - at Idaho - L, 14-31

1999 - Idaho - L, 21-48

1999 - at Boise State - L, 7-41

2000 - at Oregon State - L, 19-21

2000 - at Boise State - L, 23-41

2001 - at Connecticut - W, 35-17

2002 - at Arizona State - L, 2-38

2003 - at San Diego State - L, 9-19

2003 - at Idaho - W, 8-5

2004 - at Air Force - L, 20-42

2005 - at San Jose State - L, 21-35

2006 - at Oregon State - L, 17-56

2006 - at #6 West Virginia - L, 3-52

 

Nichols and Wulff Get First Starts Against Sixth-Ranked Mountaineers: Quarterback Matt Nichols and center Charlie Wulff couldn't have asked for a tougher assignment in their first starts of their careers against sixth-ranked West Virginia.

Nichols started in place of Chris Peerboom, whose concussion suffered in the Oregon State game kept him from making the trip to Morgantown, W.Va. Wulff started in place of Chris Carlsen, who suffered a minor knee injury against the Beavers and also didn't play at WVU. Wulff is the nephew of Eagle head coach Paul Wulff.

 

Matt Nichols on Starting Debut Against West Virginia: "It's easy when you have a great offensive line and good players around you. I had confidence from the coaches and that makes it easy to have confidence in the game plan. Our offensive line played absolutely amazing. They gave up no sacks and we moved the ball. Our running game was a lot better than Oregon State. We did what we were taught on our (scoring) drive. We just have to finish them."

 

Eastern Surrenders Lots of Points, But Doesn't Cough Up Ball Against Mountaineers: Although Eastern was out-scored 108-20 in the two games against I-AA opponents, the Eagles improved significantly in turnovers from one game to the next.

Against Oregon State, Eastern fumbled away the ball on the second offensive play of the game, then had three more turnovers in its next six possessions. The Beavers turned three of them into touchdowns en route to a 35-0 lead after the first 19 minutes of the game.

Eastern had just one turnover against West Virginia, and none of them were fumbles. An interception thrown by Matt Nichols was Eastern's only miscue as EWU made the Mountaineers earn their points.

"We'll see how we respond from it as the season goes along," Wulff said of playing at West Virginia a week after playing OSU. "I think it was great for our players. I'm a big picture kind of guy -- I'm not always looking at whether we win all the time because there are a lot of other factors in life. Our players had a great experience coming across the country, and played good, hard football and lost."

"We are going to learn from it," he added. "We have a chance to win a conference championship and compete for a national championship in I-AA. Those are our program goals, and this game gave us a flavor of how to play at a high, high level. We need to do that."

 

Eagles Play Nationally-Ranked I-A Opponent for Second Time: Playing the likes of a nationally-ranked West Virginia was virtually uncharted territory for the Eagles. Eastern is 7-13 all-time versus NCAA Division I-A schools, and the only other time the Eagles played a ranked I-A opponent came in 1990 when Eastern fell 84-21 to Houston. That game was played in the Houston Astrodome as the Cougars finished the season ranked 10th in the Associated Press poll.

Eastern lost 52-3 to a West Virginia team that was 11-1 last year and defeated Georgia 38-35 in the Nokia Sugar Bowl after winning the Big East Conference title with a perfect 7-0 record. The win over the Eagles was the 28th in 32 games for the Mountaineers.

Eastern played in Morgantown at Mountaineer Stadium in the NAIA Championship Game in 1967, where it lost 28-21 to Fairmont State. Eastern was actually known as the Eastern Washington State College Savages at the time.

Incidentally, Eastern's two trips to Morgantown are half of the four the Eagles have made previously East of the Mississippi River. The others were at Eastern Illinois in 1991 (a 30-12 loss) and at Connecticut to open the 2001 season (a 35-17 victory). The game against UConn came during the second year the Huskies were members of I-A, and the meeting came four seasons before they joined the Big East Conference in 2005.

 

Matt Nichols on Playing I-A West Virginia: "We just played a top-five team that has a chance to win the national championship. That will help when we drop back down and play in our division. It helps us get used to the speed of the game, especially for myself and our redshirt freshmen wide receivers. It's a great experience to see how major college football is played."

 

Ryan Cole on EWU's Performance at OSU: "We came in prepared, but we didn't execute. We had some mistakes and physical errors in the first quarter, and it snowballed from there. We weren't really able to come back and rebound. But it's a first game of the season. We knew we weren't going to play our best football because I don't believe any team plays its best football in the first game of the season. But it was a harsh loss and we made them look good.

 

Ryan Cole on Returning to OSU Where He Previously Played: "It was great to see some familiar faces after the game. I applaud Oregon State because they played a heckuva game. I wish them the best of luck and hopefully they can be successful in the Pac 10 and be league champs. I always wish them the best."

 

Term I-AA Eliminated in December: At the conclusion of this season, the term I-AA will no longer be used by the NCAA in distinguishing teams in I-AA Football. The NCAA Board of Directors approved on Aug. 3 two new labels for NCAA Division I football. Schools in I-A will now be referred to as the "Football Bowl Subdivision" and I-AA will change to "NCAA Football Championship Subdivision." The Collegiate Commissioners Association helped develop the new labels.

The new term is designed to distinguish Division I institutions for purposes of governing football, the only sport for which such a distinction is necessary. Members felt the old nomenclature inaccurately tiered Division I institutions in all sports, not just football, and produced instances in which media outlets and other entities incorrectly cited institutions as being Division I-AA in basketball or baseball, for example.

"All Division I institutions, regardless of whether they sponsor football, are in fact and should be referred to as Division I members," said Board Chair and University of Connecticut President Philip Austin. "The only reasons for labeling are the need to distinguish the two football subdivisions for the purpose of governing the sport and to maintain separate statistics. The Board is stressing that the nomenclature reflect the totality of the Division I membership whenever possible and that the subdivision labels be used sparingly. Still, there are instances in which we need to use them, and we feel the new labels are more accurate."

 

Eagles in the Playoffs: Eastern's 2005 appearance in the NCAA Division I-AA Playoffs was the school's fifth berth in school history, and the first time the Eagles have made back-to-back appearances.

Eastern's 2004 appearance in the second round was the third time Eastern advanced past the first round. Eastern now has a 4-5 record in five playoff appearances after losing at Northern Iowa 41-38 in the first round of the 2005 playoffs. 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 Woodward Field in Cheney, Wash.

Eastern hadn't appeared in the I-AA 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 post-season experience came in 1967 when Eastern advanced to the NAIA Championship game where it lost to Fairmont State 28-21.

Here is a complete list of EWU's playoff games:

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)

 

Eagles in I-AA Statistics in 2005: After leading NCAA Division I-AA in offense much of the year, the Eagles finished fourth with an average of 477.8 yards per game.

Quarterback Erik Meyer was second in I-AA in individual total offense as the Payton Award candidate averaged 352.0 yards per game, just behind Grambling's Bruce Eugene at 367.0 per game. Meyer also finished fourth nationally in passing efficiency with a 169.3 rating, and his average of 333.6 passing yards per game was second. Meyer became just the 12th player in I-AA history to throw for at least 4,000 yards in a single season (he finished with 4,003).

Eastern finished second in I-AA in passing offense at 341.8, just behind Grambling (357.7). Eastern finished the season as the I-AA leader in total offense in both 1997 (505.6) and 2001 (514.5), and has now led the Big Sky Conference in total offense in four of the last five years.

Eastern was also 14th in scoring (35.0) and seventh in passing efficiency (161.4). The Eagles were 69th out of 116 I-AA teams in rushing (136.1 per game), up from 96th (104.0 per game) after three games.

Defensively, Eastern finished 15th nationally in pass efficiency defense (103.3) after entering the playoffs ranked fifth (97.3). The Eagles finished 62nd overall in defense (363.2), 60th in rushing defense (160.1) and 45th in scoring defense (23.4).

Eagle receiver Eric Kimble finished fifth in receiving yards (118.3) and fifth in receptions (7.3) per game. Raul Vijil was right behind Kimble, ranking 12th in receiving yards (90.0) and 16th in receptions (6.0). That duo ranked first and second in the Big Sky in both categories. Kimble also closed the year ranked 13th in all-purpose yards with an average of 142.2 per game.

Running back Ryan Cole was 31st in I-AA in scoring with an average of 7.2 points per game, and was also 71st in rushing (73.3). Sheldon Weddle was 25th in field goals (1.0 per game).

Defensively, cornerback Jesse Hendrix was 10th in passes defended with a total of 16 (1.33 per game), with 14 passes broken up and two interceptions.

 

Injury Epidemic in 2005: A total of 20 key players -- 15 of them starters at one time during the season -- lost playing time and practice time after being injured since the season started in September. In all, those 20 players missed a total of 90 games and a total 55 starts. Early in the year the injury rate was severe, with nine players suffering injuries in Eastern's first three games (three in each game) that kept them out of practice and games.

Here is a list of the injured players in 2005 that are on EWU's 2006 roster.

Name -Played/Starts -Games/Starts Missed

TOTALS (20 Players) - 90/55

LB David Eneberg (ankle) - 11/10 -1/2 (UCD, UNI)

NG Harrison Nikolao (sternum) - 12/10 - 0/2 (Sac, CP)

TE Tom McAndrews (knee) - 7/1 - 5/0 (Sac, CP, MSU, UCD, UNI)

RB Dale Morris (knee) - 9/1 - 3/0 (UM, WSU, Sac)

S Gregor Smith (knee) - 7/4 - 5/8 (NAU, UM, WSU, Sac, CP)

DE Jason Belford (calf) - 3/2 - 9/9 (lost for season after PSU game)

DT Keith Grennan (back) - 10/4 - 2/0 (PSU, Sac)

DE Jacob Kragt (shoulder) - 2/0 - 10/0 (redshirted)

QB Chris Peerboom (finger tendon) - 3/0 - 8/0 (WOU through CP)

-- Three players -- RB Dezmon Cole (hamstring), WR Branden Nicholson (broken femur) and WR Kyle Long sat out the season because of pre-season injuries. Cole redshirted.

 

Eagles Fall Short of 1,000: Always proud of its running game with outstanding running backs and offensive linemen, Eastern has now had a 1,000-yard rusher for nine of the last 11 seasons from 1995-2004, including six different players. In 2005, the Eagles just missed having a running back finish with 1,000 as Ryan Cole finished with 879.

Darius Washington finished with 1,127 yards in 12 games in the 2004 season. Because of a shoulder injury, he had just 16 yards in his last two regular season games, but had 257 yards in a pair of playoff games.

The Eagles came up short in 2003 as Reggie Witherspoon finished with 766 after Washington's season came to a premature end with a knee injury in Eastern's second game of the season.

Joe Sewell started the string of 1,000-yard rushers with 1,025 in 1995, then had 1,094 in 1996. In 1997, Rex Prescott rushed for what was then a school-record 1,793 and Mike MacKenzie accumulated 1,058 in 1997 and 1,396 in 1998. Jovan Griffith finished with 1,275 in 1999, and Jesse Chatman had 1,188 in 2000 and a remarkable 2,096 in the 2001 season that surpassed Prescott's single season school record. The eighth-straight performance was by Griffith with 1,130 yards as he went over the 1,000-yard mark with a 199-yard performance in Eastern's season-ending 30-21 victory over No. 1 ranked Montana on Nov. 16, 2002. In Eastern's other 86 years of football, only three 1,000-yard performances have been recorded - 1,238 by Mel Stanton in 1965, 1,049 by Meriel Michelson in 1950 and 1,114 by Jamie Townsend in 1985.

 

Eagles 6-4 in Overtime Games: After defeating Montana State 51-44 in overtime on Nov. 13, 2004, Eastern Washington is now 6-4 in overtime games. The Eagles are 4-1 in single overtime games, 1-3 in double overtime, and 1-0 in triple overtime contests. Here is the complete list of EWU overtime games:

2004 - at Montana State - W, 51-44 (one overtime)

2003 - at Idaho State - L, 52-55 (two overtimes)

2001 - at Sacramento State - W, 42-35 (one overtime)

2001 - at Montana - L, 26-29 (two overtimes)

2000 - at Weber State - W, 27-24 (one overtime)

1998 - Portland State - L, 27-30 (one overtime)

1994 - Montana State - W, 34-31 (three overtimes)

1991 - at Idaho - W, 34-31 (two overtimes)

1990 - Montana State - L, 25-28 (two overtimes)

1990 - at Idaho State - W, 33-26 (one overtime)

 

Former Office Mates Wulff and Kramer Share 2005 Coach of the Year Honor: Former co-workers Paul Wulff and Mike Kramer were riding high a year ago after each won a share of the Big Sky Conference title as well as the league's Coach of the Year honor.

Wulff directed the Eagles to their second-straight Big Sky Conference co-championship in 2005 and a second-straight NCAA Division I-AA Playoff berth. Kramer, a former Eastern head coach and assistant, led Montana State to a season-ending 16-6 victory over Montana as the Eagles, Bobcats and Grizzlies shared the 2005 title.

Back in 1993 when Wulff was a first-year volunteer assistant coach and Kramer was the team's offensive line coach, that duo shared an office and coached the line together. When Kramer took over as EWU's head coach in 1994, Wulff became his offensive line coach. Wulff took over as Eastern's offensive coordinator under Kramer in 1998 and 1999, then took over as head coach in 2000 when Kramer left for Bozeman.

"It's great to share the honor with him," said Wulff. "He's a great friend and does a great job at Montana State. He has done wonders for my career since the day I became a coach at Eastern. He gave me a lot of leeway and helped me out so much."

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