GREELEY, Colorado – Quarterbacks often threw against 25 mph winds Saturday in Eastern Washington’s 48-13 rout of Northern Colorado at Nottingham Stadium.
The Eagles’ defense continued to breeze.
Fifth-ranked Eastern Washington (7-2, 5-1 Big Sky) tallied six sacks, three interceptions and held Northern Colorado (2-8, 2-4) to 259 total yards, extending its win streak against the Bears to 11 games.
EWU, which is allowing a Big Sky-best 15.3 points per game against conferences foes, set up a showdown in Cheney next Saturday with sixth-ranked UC Davis (8-1, 6-0).
The Eagles can earn at least a share of the Big Sky crown if they wins their final two games, including a regular-season finale on Nov. 16 at Portland State.
Senior corner D’londo Tucker, who had two interceptions, credited the defensive front for creating the pressure that forced Northern Colorado’s Keaton Mott and Conor Regan into errant throws.
The Eagles had just five interceptions going into the game.
“The defense played together, and the defensive line, it goes hand in hand,” said Tucker, who has a team-high three interceptions this season. “They get the sacks, we get the picks.”
Junior running back Antoine Custer had 122 yards on 16 carries to lead a EWU rushing attack that tallied 292 yards. The Eagles had 562 total yards.
In his fifth career start, sophomore quarterback Eric Barriere ran for two touchdowns and threw for two more. Barriere, who completed 24 of 36 passes for 245 yards with an interception, had scoring connections with Dylan Ingram and Johnny Edwards.
Barriere connected with 10 receivers, including Nsimba Webster, who had a team-high seven receptions for 80 yards.
“I feel like we dominated in the first half, much like last week (a 38-14 win over Idaho), on both sides of the ball and special teams,” EWU coach Aaron Best said. “We did take a step forward after a few lulls in the third quarter, but we got through those lulls and were able to stretch the lead further.”
EWU jumped to a 20-0 halftime lead, which could have been more lopsided. The Eagles moved inside the 5-yard line twice but settled for a pair of Roldan Alcobendas field goals. On another drive, EWU had a turnover on the Bears’ 21-yard line.
Sam McPherson and Tamarick Pierce added touchdown runs for the Eagles.
Northern Colorado opened the second half with a scoring drive capped by Tray Riek’s 1-yard touchdown run, cutting EWU’s lead to 20-7.
On EWU’s ensuing series, Barriere orchestrated an eight-play, 68-yard drive he capped with a 15-yard touchdown run. The Eagles coasted the rest of the way.
Linebacker Chris Ojoh led EWU’s defense with a team-high seven tackles, a sack and a tackle for a loss. Safety Dehonta Hayes had five tackles and a third-quarter interception that set up Ingram’s touchdown reception, the first of the freshman’s career.
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