Eagles to host Weber State Saturday on SWX - SWX Right Now-Sports for Spokane, CdA, Tri-Cities, WA

Eagles to host Weber State Saturday on SWX

Photo: EWU Athletics Photo: EWU Athletics

By Eastern Washington Athletics

The Eastern Washington University football team has been down this road before.
 
Entering the stretch run with three important Big Sky Conference games yet to play, the 11th-ranked Eagles host No. 19/14 Weber State at Roos Field on Saturday (Nov. 4). Kickoff in EWU's 91st Homecoming Game is 1:05 p.m. Pacific time.
 
The game will be televised live regionally by SWX, and the webcast of the broadcast may be watched via Pluto TV and watchbigsky.com. Fans can also listen to the game on 700-AM ESPN, 105.3-FM, via the web at tunein.com and via mobile phone app, with pre-game coverage starting one hour prior to kickoff.
 
The Eagles and Wildcats are two of the handful of league teams fighting not only for the league title, but berths in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision Playoffs which begin on Nov. 25.  The Eagles are coming off a bye week after falling to 5-3 for the season and 4-1 in the Big Sky Conference on Oct. 21 with a 46-28 road loss at Southern Utah.
 
The Thunderbirds, who are also 4-1 this season, are the only team to hand EWU and WSU their league losses this season. Weber State is 6-2 overall and is also 4-1 in the Big Sky, and is coming off a 41-27 romp against Montana on Oct. 28. Capitalizing on two UM turnovers, the Wildcats led 31-0 with scoring drives of 43, 45, 36, 8 and 83 yards to open the game, while the first five possessions for the Grizzlies were for 6, -4, 55, 0 and 12 yards. Two weeks before that, Southern Utah upset Weber State in Ogden 32-16. Earlier this season, the Wildcats were edged by California 33-20.
 
"They fly around and gave Cal a lot of headaches early in the year," said Eastern head coach Aaron Best. "I know they stumbled against Southern Utah at home, but Southern Utah is a great football team as we found out. It just goes to show that every week you have to bring your 'A' game, and this week will be no different. We expect nothing but their best shot when they come into town on Saturday."
 
Eastern, Weber State and Southern Utah are all 4-1 in the league, while Northern Arizona leads the way at 5-0. Montana State is 4-2 and Montana and Sacramento State is 3-2. Among those four teams at 4-1 or better in the league, Eastern's only remaining common opponent is Weber State. Northern Arizona has a tough road to the title, playing road games at Montana on Nov. 4 and at Southern Utah on Nov. 18.
 
"A lot unfolded while we were on our couches and other conference teams were on the football fields," Best said of the competitive nature of the league. "I think it makes for a better last third of the season where so many teams have a chance and are playing their best ball. You have to bring it – whether it's first quarter or fourth quarter, or whether it's home or away. There are a lot of teams who want a piece of the pie, and that makes it fun and interesting, as well as challenging and competitive. That's what we all want. The better this league is the better we are nationally in terms of people seeing and respecting the teams, players and coaches we have in the Big Sky."
 
Eastern practiced three times during the open week, and will resume practices in earnest on Tuesday (Oct. 31) in preparation for the visit from the Wildcats. Eastern plays at fellow defending Big Sky champion North Dakota on Nov. 11 before hosting Portland State for Senior Day on Nov. 18. The FCS Playoffs begin on Nov. 25.
 
Eastern is 54-33-3 in its previous 90 Homecoming contests, and last year defeated Northern Colorado 49-31.
 
 

 
EWU-Weber State Game Notes

 
Eagles Remain Top-Ranked BSC Team
 
The national rankings are as convoluted as the Big Sky Conference standings. Eastern came out of its bye as the top-ranked NCAA Football Championship Subdivision team from the league, ranking 11th in both the weekly STATS Top 25 poll and the coaches poll. On Oct. 23, after its 46-28 loss to Southern Utah, the Eagles were previously eighth in both polls but fell just four positions to 12th in the weekly coaches poll, and was ranked 14th by Stats.
 
In the this week's coaches poll, Weber State is 14th, Northern Arizona is 16th and Southern Utah is 23rd. Southern Utah is 17th in the STATS poll, just ahead of NAU in 18th and Weber State at 19th.
 
North Dakota State is No. 2 in both polls, behind defending FCS champion James Madison. Eastern has now been ranked by STATS in 80 of its last 81 polls, and in the top 10 in 19 of the last 22. Eastern had its streak of being in the top 10 snapped at 15 after losing at home 40-13 to the Bison on Sept. 9, and again fell out of the top 10 on Oct. 23.
 
 
Eagles Seek to Continue November Excellence
 
The month of November has long been a successful month for Eastern Washington and they hope to continue that in 2017. Since 2004, EWU has lost just six regular season games in November (NAU, Portland State and Montana in 2015; Sac State and Weber State in 2006; and Cal Poly in 2005), with an overall record of 32-6.
 
In November and beyond since 2004, the Eagles are now 43-14, including a 13-8 record in the FCS Playoffs. Since 2010, Eastern is 28-7 overall in November and beyond, with the lone setbacks coming in 2016 to Youngstown State in the semifinals of the FCS Playoffs; 2015 to Portland State, Montana and Northern Arizona; 2014 to Illinois State in the playoff quarterfinals; 2013 to Towson in the playoff semifinals; and 2012 to Sam Houston State in the playoff semifinals. Until losing to Northern Arizona on Nov. 7, 2015, Eastern had won its last 19 regular season games in November, dating back to a 15-13 loss to Sacramento State on Nov. 1, 2008.
 
 
NCAA Division I Football Championship Committee to announce Top 10 teams
 
The NCAA Division I Football Championship Committee will reveal the top 10 teams in order twice during November. The rankings will be announced during the halftime studio show on ESPNU during the following games involving one future FCS member (Idaho), and three former FCS teams:
Thursday, Nov. 2 — Idaho at Troy, 6:15 p.m. Pacific
Thursday, Nov. 9 — Georgia Southern at Appalachian State, 4:30 p.m. Pacific
 
For the second straight year, the November announcements will help build excitement around the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs and may have some bearing on the final bracket that will be revealed at 8 a.m. Pacific time on Selection Sunday, Nov. 19, on ESPNU.
 
The 2017 championship field consists of 10 automatic qualifiers and 14 at-large qualifiers. The top eight teams will be seeded, receive first-round byes and host second-round games. The 16 other teams will bid to host first-round games, which will take place Saturday, Nov. 25. The national championship game will be at 9 a.m. Pacific time Saturday, Jan. 6, in Frisco, Texas, and will be broadcast on ESPN2.
 
 
Eastern is 25-13 (66 percent) Since 2010 Versus Ranked Opponents
 
Weber State will be the second ranked FCS foe Eastern has played this season, and the first in Big Sky Conference play. Earlier this season, Eastern lost 40-13 to second-ranked North Dakota State (the Eagles were ranked seventh). Weber State is ranked 19th in the STATS Top 25 poll, and is 14th by the coaches. Eastern is 11th in both.
 
The Eagles have now played 121 games against ranked teams in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision since becoming a member of that classification in 1983 (then known as I-AA). Eastern is 54-67 (.446 in those games, including a 17-42 mark (.288) versus top 10 foes. Since 2010, though, the Eagles are 25-13 overall (.658) and 8-7 (.533 versus top 10 teams.
 
Eastern was 6-2 against ranked teams in 2016, having lost to top-ranked North Dakota State by a 50-44 score in overtime and then falling 40-38 to 13th-ranked Youngstown State in the semifinals of the FCS Playoffs. Eastern defeated Northern Iowa, ranked 10th at the time, by a 34-30 score on Sept. 17, beat No. 25 Northern Arizona 50-35 on Sept. 24, defeated No. 16 Montana 35-16 on Oct. 29, knocked off No. 14 Cal Poly 42-21 on Nov. 5, then beat No. 14 Central Arkansas 31-14 on Dec. 3 and was victorious over No. 12 Richmond 38-0 on Dec. 10. Overall, EWU has faced the No. 1 team in FCS nine times, winning twice (35-31 in 2004 over Southern Illinois in the FCS Playoffs and 30-21 in 2002 over Montana at Albi Stadium in Spokane, Wash.
 
 
The Game Within the Game are Eagle & Wildcat Turnovers, as Well as Offense versus Defense
 
All eyes will be on the turnover battle when Weber State and Eastern Washington meet, with both having results on opposite ends of the spectrum.  The Wildcats are ranked ninth in FCS with a plus 1.38 turnover margin per game, with 20 turnovers gained (9th in FCS) and just nine lost (21st). Eastern, meanwhile, is 115th out of 123 FCS schools with minus 1.38 margin per game. Eastern has gained 10 turnovers (95th) while losing 21 (112th).
 
The game will also be a battle of Weber State's highly-ranked defense against the high production of EWU's offense. The Wildcats are allowing only 337.9 yards per game to rank 38th in FCS, including the 13th-best passing efficiency defense (109.37) and the second-best red zone defense (.571). Weber State is also 12th in scoring defense at 17.1 per game and had the seventh-most interceptions in FCS with 13. Eastern is eighth in FCS in total offense (469.6), seventh in passing (339.2) and 20th in scoring (34.9). The Eagles are 19th in red zone offense (.875).
 
Individually, WSU quarterback Stefan Cantwell is 21st nationally in passing efficiency (148.8) and is 42nd in total offense (229.9, with 1,606 yards passing and 235 rushing). Rashid Shaheed is seventh in kickoff returns, with an average of 28.7 yards per return to rank just ahead of the 28.5 average of Eastern's Dre' Sonte Dorton in eighth. Shaheed is also averaging 24.6 yards per pass reception, with 17 catches for 419 yards and a pair of scores. Weber State's field goal kicker, Trey Tuttle, leads FCS with an average of 2.0 per game and is second in percentage (.941), making 16-of-17 for the season and 25-of-26 extra points.
 
 
Special Teams, Including EWU's Kickoff Return Unit, Near Top in FCS Statistics
 
Eastern's kickoff return unit has long been impressive, and so far this year the Eagles and Dre' Sonte Dorton are ranked high in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision. Dorton has averaged 28.5 yards on 19 returns to rank eighth in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision, while the team is fifth at 26.0 per return.
 
Dorton had a 96-yard return for a touchdown at Southern Utah on Oct. 21, accounting for EWU's only points in a span of 35:04 in the 46-28 loss. On his TD, Dorton faked a reverse and then ran down the sideline for the 13th-longest return in school history to help EWU regain a two-possession lead at 21-8. In the fourth quarter, with EWU trailing 32-28, he had a 36-yarder shortened to 14 yards because of a holding penalty. Dorton also has two returns of 51 yards and others of 49 and 38 this season.
 
Besides Dorton, Eastern has some other top-notch returners back from a year ago. Last year as a true freshman, Antoine Custer Jr. averaged 26.7 yards on 14 kickoff returns with a touchdown, with long returns of 93, 55 and 35 yards. Teammate Nsimba Webster had a 65-yard return against UC Davis, but broke his clavicle in the process. Webster had a 25.3 average per return, and EWU's 21.7 average as a team ranked fourth in the Big Sky and 25th nationally.
 
In the last 22 seasons (1996-2017), Eastern has returned 38 total kicks – 19 kickoffs and 19 punts -- for touchdowns. In that same span Eastern has allowed only 17. Until North Dakota State had one in the FCS Playoffs in 2010, Eastern had not allowed a kickoff return for a touchdown in more than 10 years (599 total returns).
 
In other national statistics, Eastern is 29th in net punting (37.44), allowing just 2.63 yards by opponents on punt returns this season to rank fifth nationally. Punter Jordan Dascalo is 28th in average per punt (41.4).
 
Eastern is seventh in FCS in passing (339.3 per game) and eighth in total offense (469.6), and is also 20th in scoring (34.9). Quarterback Gage Gubrud is second in total offense per game (353.1), fifth in passing yards per game (332.3), third in FCS in points responsible for per game (19.8) and seventh in total passing touchdowns (21). A year ago he led FCS in both passing and total offense (368.6 and 411.0, respectively). Nic Sblendorio is eighth in FCS with an average of 7.3 catches per game (58 total) and 47th in yards (72.0 per game, total of 576). Nsimba Webster is 18th in receptions (6.1, total of 49) and 50th in yards (70.3, total of 562)
 
Defensively, Eastern is 30th in sacks at 2.50 per game, with Albert Havili ranking 53rd nationally and fifth in the league with an average of 0.63 per game (total of five). Safety Mitch Fettig has averaged 9.5 tackles per game thus far (total of 76) to rank 34th nationally and eighth in the Big Sky.
 
 
After Just 21 Career Starts, Gubrud Already Up To Fourth in EWU Career Passing Yards
 
Junior quarterback Gage Gubrud is now 16-5 in 21 games as an Eastern starter, and has played in just 25 career games. But he's still making his mark in a hurry on EWU's career leaders list.
 
He's moved up to No. 4 in school history in career passing yards with 7,884, ranking only behind 10,000-yard passers Matt Nichols (12,616), Vernon Adams Jr. (10,438) and Erik Meyer (10,261). He is also fourth in total offense with 8,688 yards, ranking behind Nichols (13,308), Adams (11,670) and Meyer (10,942). If he were to play 14 more games in his career (three this year and 11 as a senior), he would have to average 338 passing yards and 330 yards of total offense to break the school and Big Sky records set by Nichols from 2006-09.
 
After setting three FCS, seven Big Sky marks and 18 school records in the 2016 season, Gubrud now seeks to maintain a pair of career marks. After 25 games in his career (16-5 in 21 games as a starter), he remains the Eastern career leader in passing yards per game (315.4), completion percentage (.661) and total offense per game (347.5). He is also fifth in touchdown passes (69, one from No. 4 held by Bo Levi Mitchell with 70 from 2010-11).
 
Gubrud now has a school-record nine 400-yard passing performances in his career, two more than Adams Jr. with seven. He has had back-to-back-to-back 400-yard performances on three occasions, and Adams, Jordan West and Matt Nichols are the only other quarterbacks in EWU history to have accomplished that feat two games in a row. Gubrud's 15 300-yard passing performances rank only behind Meyer (17), Nichols (19) and Adams (20).
 
Gubrud already owns seven of the top nine single game total offense performances in school history (1-2-3-4-6-7-9), plus the Nos. 13, 19 and 28 performances. He owns eight of the top 18 passing performances (1-2-4-7-13-15-16-18), plus Nos. 22, 39 and 44. In addition, he had an impressive string of 222 passes without an interception in 2016, going four full games in 2016 from Sept. 24 to Oct. 22 without a pick. He had what was then a school-record 551 yards of total offense in the first start of his career, a 45-42 season-opening victory over Washington State of the Pac-12 Conference.
 
During Eastern's five-game winning streak from Sept. 16 to Oct. 14 this season, Gubrud had 2,071 passing yards (414.2 average per game) while completing 69 percent of his passes. He passed for 19 touchdowns and accounted for another four (three rushing, one receiving). In his best five-game stretch a year ago, he completed 69 percent of his passes for 2,160 yards (432.0 average) and 20 touchdowns in five victories from Sept. 24 to Oct. 29.
 
 
Eagles Have Impressive 44-6 Big Sky Record Since 0-2 Start in 2011
 
Although they had their 12-game Big Sky winning streak come to a close at Southern Utah on Oct. 21, the Eagles have won 44 of their last 50 Big Sky games since a 0-2 start in 2011. The only Big Sky school which has come close to that in the 54-year history of the league was Montana, which won 50 of 55 games from 1995-2002 and 46 of 51 from 2003-2009.
 
 Eastern has won 34 of its last 39 league games, with the other losses coming against Montana and Portland State in 2015 and Northern Arizona in both 2015 and 2014. An Oct. 25, 2014, loss at Northern Arizona snapped EWU's school-record 14-game conference winning streak and a home loss against the Lumberjacks on Nov. 7, 2015, ended a streak of eight Big Sky wins in a row.
 
Including non-conference victories (two versus MSU and one against Cal Poly) and a playoff win (Montana), the Eagles have won 38 of their last 43 versus conference foes, and are 48-6 since the 0-2 start in 2011. Including three wins at the end of the 2009 season, Eastern has a 54-10 record in league games since then.
 
What's perhaps most impressive is Eastern's ability to consistently win on the road. Until losing at Southern Utah, the Eagles had won its previous road game versus all 13 other league members, as well a 2012 road victory at Idaho, which will join the league next year. Eastern still faces a challenge to that accomplishment this season at North Dakota (Nov. 11).
 
 
Eagles Have Now Won 23 Games Since 2010 When Trailing or Tied in Fourth Quarter
 
Eastern has now won 23 games since 2010 when trailing or tied in the fourth quarter, including two this season, two in 2016 and 2015, one in 2014, two in 2013, six in 2012, two in 2011 and six during EWU's national championship season in 2010
 
Three of the 23 comebacks have been against Montana, including Eagle victories in 2017 (48-41), 2012 (32-26) and 2010 (36-27). Earlier this year, No. 11 Eastern trailed 24-6 at halftime but scored 42 points in the second half to stun the Grizzlies. In the second half, Eastern scored on touchdowns on five of its six possessions, and had a dominating 259-68 yardage advantage in the third quarter. After knotting the game at 27 and 34, Eastern took the lead for good on a tie-breaking 3-yard TD pass from Gage Gubrud to Nic Sblendorio with 6:53 left. Eastern expanded it to 48-34 on a 10-yard TD run by Antoine Custer Jr. with 2:12 to play. The defense did its part by recording three key stops in the fourth quarter Gubrud broke his own school record with a 549-yard passing performance, finishing with four touchdowns through the air and one on the ground. His 560 yards of offense were also a record, as he eclipsed his own previous records of 520 passing and 551 total yards. The 549 team passing yards were also a school record, breaking the previous mark of 526 set in 2015 versus Northern Iowa.
 
At UC Davis on Oct. 7, No. 10 Eastern rallied from an 11-point deficit in the fourth quarter by scoring 21 points in the period and went on to win a heart-stopping 41-38 victory over the Aggies at Davis, Calif. Gage Gubrud engineered scoring drives of 71, 55 and 75 yards in the final quarter, and finished with six touchdown passes and 452 yards passing. He passed 6 yards to Nic Sblendorio for a game-winning TD with 1:37 to play, followed by a missed 49-yard field goal by the Aggies that could have knotted the game. Gubrud passed for 452 yards and six touchdowns in the win.
 
 
Eastern Now 40-0 Since 2010 When Winning the TO Battle
 
The Eagles had their first turnover advantages of the 2017 season against Sacramento State on Sept. 30 and Montana State on Oct. 14. The Eagles had three fumble recoveries and an interception against a Bobcats team that had just four turnovers in its first five games, including only one fumble and no fumbles lost. Versus Sac State, the Hornets had entered the game leading FCS with 10 interceptions, but EWU had none while recording one defensively by senior safety Jake Hoffman. Sac State entered the game fifth in FCS with a +2.0 turnover margin per game, while EWU was -2.0 and ranked 119th out of 123 FCS schools.
 
Prior to that, EWU had lost the turnover battle 3-0 versus Texas Tech, tying North Dakota State 2-2, finishing with a 5-1 deficit against Fordham and losing the battle against Montana 2-1. Eastern had two turnovers and forced none at UC Davis on Oct. 7, and lost the turnover battle 3-1 on Oct. 21 at Southern Utah. That put EWU at minus 11 turnovers for the season, ranking EWU 115th out of 123 FCS schools in turnover margin (-1.38 per game). Eastern is 112th in turnovers lost (21) and 95th in turnovers gained (10).
 
 
In the last nine-plus seasons, the Eagles are now 49-1 when they've won the turnover battle, 21-6 when they've been tied and 20-28 when they've lost (total of 90-35). The last time EWU lost when it won the turnover battle came in the 2009 FCS Playoffs at Stephen F. Austin when EWU had two miscues and forced four in the 44-33 loss. Thus, EWU is 40-0 since 2010 when they've won the turnover battle, 18-5 when they've been tied and 18-21 when they've lost. That's a collective record of 76-26 (75 percent), with 21 of those 26 losses (81 percent) coming in games EWU has lost the turnover battle and 53 percent of EWU's wins coming when they've won the turnover battle (77 percent when including ties).
 
After going six games without winning the turnover battle in 2016 (including the first three), Eastern had turnover advantages in six of its last 12 games, including a 7-1 advantage in its two playoff victories. The Eagles had a dominating 5-1 advantage over Richmond, and one game earlier had a 2-0 advantage over Central Arkansas. But EWU lost the turnover battle 2-1 to Youngstown State, as EWU finished the season 6-0 when it won the turnover battle, 2-2 when it lost and 4-0 when it was tied.
 
 
Eagles Celebrate 50th Anniversary of Games at Roos/Woodward Field With 50th Game on the Red Turf
 
The North Dakota State game on Sept. 9 was the 50th at Roos Field since the red turf surface was installed in 2010. After beating Sacramento State on Sept. 30 and Montana State on Oct. 14, Eastern is now 43-9 overall, and have lost just five regular season games at "The Inferno" – 33-5 (86.8 percent), plus are 10-4 in playoff games. The only regular season losses at home for EWU since then are to conference foes Montana State (2011), Portland State (2011 and 2015) and Northern Arizona (2015), as well as North Dakota State (2017).
 
This is the seventh season the stadium has been known as "Roos Field," as a new red synthetic Sprinturf surface made its debut in 2010. Eastern finished a perfect 8-0 in its debut season at "The Inferno," including three playoff victories. Eastern is 42-9 overall (82 percent) since the red turf was installed in 2010 – including a 4-0 record versus rival Montana. Eastern has a 154-63 record (71.0 percent) in 217 games at Roos Field (formerly Woodward Field) since 1967, with the Eagles utilizing Joe Albi Stadium in Spokane as the school's main home field from 1983-89.
 
In 2016, Eastern finished 7-1 in the 50th season of football at EWU's current stadium location, which opened in 1967 and is celebrating its 50th anniversary in the 2017 season. A crowd of 11,301 were on hand for EWU's most recent home game versus Montana State, the fifth-most in school history and giving EWU 23-straight regular season sellouts (crowd of 8,600 or more) and 35 overall.
 
Eastern's 2016 average attendance was 8,435 (67,477 in eight home games), ranking behind the school record of 9,577 set in five home games in 2015. The Montana game on Oct. 29 had a crowd of 10,931 to rank as the fifth-most in school history, with the top three coming versus the Griz (11,702 in 2010, 11,583 in 2006 and 11,339 in 2014).
 
 
Depth Helps Eagles Win Five Straight Despite Injuries to Eight Starters
 
As a testament of Eastern's outstanding depth, Eastern won their fifth-straight game against Montana State on Oct. 14 despite playing without eight injured players who have started this season (combined 25 starts). Among those who were out for that game, junior offensive guard Matt Meyer and senior cornerback D'londo Tucker have been declared out for the season by head coach Aaron Best. Meyer has played in 23 games (16 as a starter) and will be back for the 2018 season. Tucker was injured at Montana on Sept. 23 and has 57 total tackles, three interceptions, a sack and 12 passes broken up in his 35-game career (nine as a starter). Of those who also missed the MSU game, tight end Henderson Belk and safety Jake Hoffman remain out, while wide receiver Terence Grady and defensive tackle Andre Lino has since returned.
 
As a result of the injuries, opportunities have been given to numerous Eagles to assume starting roles in recent weeks, including nose tackle Dylan Ledbetter, safety Tysen Prunty, true freshman defensive back Anfernee Gurley, offensive tackle Brett Thompson and wide receivers Zach Eagle and Jayson Williams. In addition, linebacker Jack Sendelbach replaced the injured Ketner Kupp in the starting lineup for the first three games.
 
Eastern previously announced that starting nose tackle and 2016 first team All-Big Sky Conference performer Jay-Tee Tiuli underwent surgery in late September and will miss the remainder of the 2017 season. However, he has not redshirted, so he will be able to return for his senior season in 2018 as an injury redshirt. Tiuli has played in 36 career games (11 as a starter), and has had 77 total tackles with 8 1/2 sacks, three quarterback hurries and two passes deflected. He earned third team preseason All-America honors from stats, and first team all-league accolades from College Sports Madness.
 
Previously, starting offensive tackle Kaleb Levao was lost for the remainder of the season as well. Actual injuries suffered by players are not disclosed.
 
 
First Starts of Careers Made by Nine Eagles in First Seven Games
 
The most recent starting debut for the Eagles this season came against Montana State on Oct. 14 when sophomore Tysen Prunty started at safety in place of injured senior Jake Hoffman. Prunty finished his debut with a career-high seven tackles versus the Bobcats.
 
Previously, two debuts were made against UC Davis on Oct. 7 when true freshman Anfernee Gurley made this first start of his career as an extra defensive back and running back Sam McPherson started at running back. In his first series as a starter, McPherson gathered in a 40-yard touchdown pass. Gurley finished with a career-high nine tackles.
 
One game earlier versus Sacramento State on Sept. 30, sophomore Jayson Williams made his first start when EWU began with a four receiver set. He had three catches for 74 yards, including a 59-yarder in the first quarter that set-up Eastern's first touchdown of the day in the 52-31 win.
 
Redshirt freshman offensive tackle Brett Thompson saw significant action at Fordham, then the 2016 graduate of Olympia (Wash.) High School made the first start of his career in Eastern's come-from-behind 48-41 victory against Montana. Starting offensive guard Matt Meyer has been injured and out since playing sparingly versus Fordham, and previously Kaleb Levao was lost for the season with a knee injury. The result was three different starting offensive lines in three games (NDSU, Fordham and Montana), with three players starting multiple positions (Tristen Taylor, Chris Schlichting and Jack Hunter).
 
Junior tight end Henderson Belk was listed as a starter against Texas Tech, but EWU began with four wide receivers instead. Belk, though, made his starting debut one game later versus North Dakota State. Against Fordham on Sept. 16, sophomore defensive nose tackle Dylan Ledbetter made the first start of his career as an injury replacement for Jay-Tee Tiuli, who has also now been lost for the season. Ledbetter, whose father, Mark, lettered as a linebacker at Washington State from 1986-89, had a career-high eight tackles and two of EWU's 10 sacks. Also, junior wide receiver Zach Eagle made his first start as an Eagle wide receiver against Fordham and caught a pass for 14 yards and had two punt returns.
 
When EWU played at Texas Tech on Sept. 2, a total of 21 of 22 starters hit the field with starting experience under their belts. Six full-time starters returned on each side of the ball, plus all of the team's specialists from a year ago. An additional five starters on offense and four on defense had previously started for the Eagles. The lone starting debut came on defense when sophomore Jack Sendelbach started in place of injured Ketner Kupp on defense.
 
Eight freshman redshirts made their Eastern debuts against Texas Tech on Sept. 2 – Eric Barriere, Talolo Limu-Jones, Calin Criner, Keith Moore, Rudolph Mataia Jr., Brett Thompson, Nicholas Blair and Conner Crist. Three true freshmen made their debuts in an Eastern uniform, including Anfernee Gurley, Johnny Edwards IV and Chris Ojoh. Three other true freshmen were on Eastern's travel squad and did not play -- quarterback Nick Moore, cornerback Ira Branch, and wide receiver Andrew Boston. They remain redshirts, as well as junior defensive end Jim Townsend.
 
In addition, Aaron Best made his head coaching debut versus the Red Raiders. It came versus the same team former head coach Beau Baldwin made his EWU head coaching debut against back on Aug. 30, 2008, in a 49-24 Red Raider victory. Interestingly, Best is a 1996 graduate of Curtis High School in Tacoma, Wash., and Baldwin graduated from the same school six years earlier. Best was making his debut as Baldwin's offensive line coach in that 2008 game.
 
The UC Davis game on Oct. 7 was the 250th game for Aaron Best associated with the Eastern football program. He is in his 21st year as either a player or a coach, and EWU has won more than 60 percent of its games during that time.
 
 
 
Career Starts
 
Defense (247 starts by 20 players): Mitch Fettig 30, Andre Lino 27, Nzuzi Webster 25, Victor Gamboa 24, Albert Havili 24, Josh Lewis 18, Keenan Williams 17, Cole Karstetter 12, Jake Hoffman 11, Jay-Tee Tiuli 11, Ketner Kupp 10, D'londo Tucker 9, Kurt Calhoun 9, Jonah Jordan 5, Dylan Ledbetter 5, Jack Sendelbach 3, Tysen Prunty 2, John Kreifels 2, Conner Baumann 2 (including 1 as a fullback), Anfernee Gurley 1.
 
Offense (179 starts by 18 players): Tristen Taylor 22, Chris Schlichting 22, Gage Gubrud 21, Spencer Blackburn 19, Nic Sblendorio 17, Matt Meyer 16, Antoine Custer Jr. 13, Nsimba Webster 10, Jack Hunter 9, Zach Eagle 6, Brett Thompson 5, Jayce Gilder 4, Terence Grady 4, Kaleb Levao 4 (including 1 as defensive lineman), Jayson Williams 2, Stu Stiles 2, Henderson Belk 2, Sam McPherson 1.
 
 
 
Consecutive Extra Points Record Ends at 85 for Roldan Alcobendas
 
Kicker Roldan Alcobendas missed his first extra point attempt of the game against UC Davis on Oct. 7, ending his school-record string of consecutive career extra points made at 85. In his 26-game career, Alcobendas has scored 179 points to rank fifth in school history. He has made 17-of-26 field goals and 128-of-133 extra points. Thus far this year he has made 33-of-34 extra point attempts and 7-of-10 field goals.
 
He has also handled kickoff duties as of late for the Eagles, and is averaging 60.6 yards on 33 kicks this season with seven touchbacks. In his career, he has 101 kickoffs for 57.5 average (5,810 total yards) with 17 touchbacks.
 
Alcobendas is a 2013 graduate of Camas (Wash.) High School, and had to sit out both the 2013 and 2015 seasons because of knee injuries. He finished the 2016 season 9-of-15 kicking field goals and made 73-of-74 extra points. He made his last 63 extra points in a row in 2016 to shatter the previous season record of 47. His 73 total extra points made in 2016 were one behind the Big Sky Conference record of 74 set by former Eagle Kevin Miller in 2013. He also averaged 54.6 yards on 44 kickoffs with seven touchbacks.
 
Returning to the venue he suffered a season-ending knee injury in 2014, Alcobendas made field goals of 48 and 31 yards and had a career-high 11 total points in EWU's 41-17 victory over Montana State in 2016 to earn Big Sky Conference Special Teams Player of the Week honors. His 48-yarder was the best of his career, and equals the 23rd-longest in school history. He also had a 31-yarder blocked and made all five of his extra point attempts to account for 11 of EWU's points. In addition, he averaged 64.0 yards in three kickoffs, including one touchback.
 
 
Career Average for Dascalo is Fifth Among the Top Punters in School History
 
With a 41.4 average on 31 punts thus far in 2017 to rank 28th in FCS, Jordan Dascalo has now punted 109 times as an Eagle for a 40.9 career average to rank fifth in school history. Against UC Davis on Oct. 7, he averaged 42.5 yards per punt with a long of 56 and one downed inside the 20-yard line. The average field position for the Aggies after his punts was its own 29-yard line.
 
He averaged 46.8 yards on six punts in EWU's season-opener against Texas Tech with a long of 58. A pair of his punts were downed inside the 20, and the average starting position for TTU after his six punts was its own 23. Dascalo also kicked off three times, with all three resulting in touchbacks. He had a 62-yard punt at Fordham on Sept. 16, equaling the second-longest of his career (he had a 67-yarder in 2015 versus Montana), and ranking as the 19th-longest in school history. He had a 45.0 average on four punts in that game, with two of them downed inside the 20.
 
In his career, Dascalo has now had 35 punts downed inside the 20. He has had 10 punts in his career of at least 56 yards, including a career-long of 67 to rank sixth in school history. He is also 4-of-7 in his EWU career kicking field goals, and has averaged 60.0 yards (6,901 total yards) in 115 career kickoffs with 47 touchbacks.
 
Dascalo, who punted as a freshman in 2014 for Washington State, earned Big Sky Conference Special Teams Player of the Week honors for his performance against his former team on Sept. 3, 2016. He averaged 55.3 yards on three punts, including one downed inside the Cougar 20-yard line. He also kicked a 48-yard field goal on the final play of the first half that started a decisive 17-0 scoring run by the Eagles in the 45-42 win. He also had seven kickoffs for a 57.0 average against WSU with one touchback. His 48-yarder equaled the 23rd-longest in school history and was the best in nearly seven years by an Eagle since Mike Jarrett booted a 49-yarder versus Idaho State on 10/3/09.
 
 
 

More Aaron Best Comments

 
On Weber State: "Weber State is a team which gave a facelift to their entire program a couple of years ago. Coach (Jay) Hill has them headed in the right direction – they play phenomenal defense and are the top defensive team in the league. They like to play in-your-face man-to-man defense and challenge you each and every play. They have enough experience to make things miserable on offenses. Offensively, they'll continue to set the tone with their run game – they like to pride themselves in running the football first and then when they get you out of position they like to stretch the field and take shots downfield. What they do on offense they do really, really well."
 
On Similarities of Weber State & Southern Utah: "Those teams are built very similarly. Weber State has a quarterback who is not going to make too many mistakes, and he'll take what other teams give him. They aren't going to ask him to do too much, but will allow their front five – and front seven with tight ends – to lean on your defensive line and linebackers to try to create mis-matches. Andrew Vollert is an All-America tight end and it seems like he's been around this conference for five-plus years. We have to make sure we locate him at all times because he's a game-changer. With the system they use, they don't stray away from who they are. They know their identity and they've shown their identity, and have come away with some big wins this year. We obviously expect them to be ready and willing to take us on."
 
On SUU Loss: "The energy was good, I will say that. But credit that team across the way. They are a good ballclub. The penalties and turnovers caught up with us, on top of playing a physical outfit. We couldn't match that physicality."
 
On Offensive Struggles: "We put our defense into a little bit of back-against-the-wall mindset a few too many times. They bailed us out a little bit. In the second half we just couldn't get the oil in the engine, so to speak, on offense. It was a choppy game. We never matched what the defense was doing."
 
On SUU Offense: "They're creative in how they use their personnel, so you can't get a bead on what they do in certain groupings they are in. Their quarterback played a magnificent game and moved the sticks. Give credit to their offense. In the second half they looked like they converted on a lot of third downs and a fourth down late."
 
On Getting Players Back from Injuries: "We'll get back who we get back, but we'll never talk about the players we don't have – we only play with the players we do have."
 
On Confidence of Team: "It's a confident bunch and we'll continue to stay confident. It's not the first loss we've endured, and for a lot of those younger players it won't be the last loss they will probably have. We'll continue to work on the things we need to work on, but a few of our players in our locker room have never lost a Big Sky game. It was a game we didn't play as well as we would have liked, and felt we could have played better. But the team we played was a pretty darn good outfit. Coach (DeMario) Warren got them going and they executed well in a lot of different areas. We'll get better."
 
On Winning Turnover Battle: "It's big. When we win the turnover battle we win games here at Eastern. That's the way it's been."
 
 
 

More Team Notes

 
Eagles to Play Fellow FCS Power Jacksonville State in Home-and-Home Series
 
A home-and-home series with fellow NCAA Football Championship Subdivision powerhouse Jacksonville State will take place in 2019 and 2021, Eastern athletic director Bill Chaves announced on Oct. 26, 2017. The first game will take place at Burgess-Snow Field in Jacksonville, Ala., on Sept. 14, 2019, followed by a return game two seasons later on Sept. 11, 2021. Eastern also has previously announced a non-conference game in 2019 at Washington (Aug. 31).
 
The Eagles and Gamecocks each have four playoff appearances in the last five years (2012-16), with only five other teams on that list (Illinois State, New Hampshire, North Dakota State, Sam Houston State, South Dakota State). Last season, third-seeded JSU lost to unseeded Youngstown State 40-24 in the second round of the FCS Playoffs, and two weeks later the Penguins upended the second-seeded Eagles 40-38 in the semifinals.
 
Both the Eagles and Gamecocks have been ranked in the top 10 nationally this season, with EWU sporting a 5-3 record and current No. 11 ranking in the STATS Top 25 FCS Poll (also 11th by the coaches). Jacksonville State, a member of the Ohio Valley Conference, is 7-1 overall and ranked third nationally by both STATS and the coaches. The Eagles are 4-1 in the Big Sky and the Gamecocks are 5-0 in the OVC.
 
"Our players, staff, and fans look forward to opportunities such as these," said Eastern head coach Aaron Best. "We like to play highly-anticipated, non-conference matchups. Opportunities such as these make Saturday's more special."
 
In EWU's only previous meeting with Jacksonville State, the Eagles beat the Gamecocks 35-24 in the quarterfinals of the 2013 FCS Playoffs. Eastern was ranked third in FCS and seeded third in the playoffs, and a week later fell to Towson 35-31 in the semifinals. Jacksonville State entered the playoffs that season ranked 20th.
 
 
Gage Gubrud Wins Pair of National Player of the Week Honors
 
Both in numbers and accolades, it's been quite a roll Gage Gubrud and the Eastern Washington University football offense has been on as of late.
 
The junior All-America quarterback was selected as the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision Offensive Player of the Week for the second-straight week from College Sports Madness after directing EWU's fourth-quarter rally in a 41-38 win at UC Davis on Oct. 7. He was also chosen by CSM as its Big Sky Conference Offensive Player of the Week, and earned honorable mention for FCS Performer of the Week for the third time this season by College Performance Awards. One week earlier versus Sacramento State, he was selected as the College Sports Madness FCS Offensive Player of the Week. He also won his third-straight Big Sky Conference Offensive Player of the Week honor – the sixth time overall in his career – and became the first Eagle to win it three consecutive weeks. Gubrud joins the likes of Travis Lulay of Montana State and Doug Nussmeier and John Friesz of Idaho as other players in league history to garner the award three times in a row.
 
The 2014 graduate of McMinnville (Ore.) High School helped Eastern erase an 11-point fourth-quarter deficit at UC Davis by directing scoring drives of 71, 55 and 75 yards in the final quarter. Finishing with six touchdown passes and 452 yards passing, he passed 6 yards to Nic Sblendorio for a game-winning TD with 1:37 to play, followed by a missed 49-yard field goal by the Aggies that could have knotted the game. It was Eastern's 23rd victory since 2010 when trailing or tied in the fourth quarter, including two this season. The Aggies finished with a 551-501 advantage in total offense, but Eastern had 205 of its yards in the fourth quarter alone. The Eagles managed only 13 points in the first 41 minutes of the game, having five three-and-outs in that span. Eastern, however, had a five touchdown drives of 73 yards or more, and another of 55. Gubrud completed 33-of-53 passes and completed passes to 10 different receivers. His six touchdown passes were one away from the school record.
 
Versus Sac State on Sept. 30, he accounted for 486 yards and six touchdowns in a 52-31 victory. Gubrud completed 35-of-50 passes as he finished with 447 passing yards and five touchdowns. He also caught a 43-yard touchdown pass from running back Sam McPherson, and had six rushes for a net loss of four yards. He had a hand in 57 of EWU's 86 offensive plays, resulting in the seventh-most yards in school history with 651.
 
 
Gubrud Heads List of Players Honored With Preseason Accolades
 
There are at least 5,160 reasons Eastern Washington University's Gage Gubrud is now among the favorites to win the Walter Payton Award presented by STATS to the top offensive player in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision.
 
The junior quarterback burst on the FCS scene a year ago in his first season as a starter by passing for a FCS record 5,160 yards, to go along with 48 touchdown passes and more than 5,700 yards of total offense. On Aug. 2, STATS named him among the players on the Watch List to win the award after finishing third in the voting a year ago. He was later named to the watch list for FCS Performer of the Year as selected by College Football Performance Awards.
 
Gubrud was joined on the STATS Watch List by Chase Edmonds from Fordham, which hosts EWU in The Bronx, N.Y., on Sept. 16. Edmonds was first in the nation in rushing yards per game (163.5), and second in all-purpose yards per game (194.6) and points per game (10.9). He finished fourth in the voting for last year's Payton Award, right behind Gubrud.
 
In addition to the Watch List, Gubrud was selected to the STATS preseason All-America second team and was picked defend his title as the league's Offensive MVP. He was last year's NCAA Football Championship Subdivision Player of the Year by the Touchdown Club of Columbus.
 
Defensive tackle Jay-Tee Tiuli earned third team preseason All-America honors from STATS, while Gubrud, defensive end Albert Havili and safety Mitch Fettig earned preseason All-Big Sky Conference honors. In addition, Gubrud was selected by College Sports Madness to win the Big Sky Conference Offensive Player of the Year award and was joined on CSM's preseason All-BSC squad by eight other Eagles. Defensive nose tackle Jay-Tee Tiuli joined Gubrud on the first team, with wide receiver Nic Sblendorio, safety Mitch Fettig, cornerback Nzuzi Webster and defensive end Albert Havili picked for the second team, and center Spencer Blackburn and linebacker Ketner Kupp chosen to the third team.
 
 
Gubrud Among Two All-Americans and Six All-BSC Players Back
 
Quarterback Gage Gubrud was honored on six All-America teams in 2016, including as a first team selection by Hero Sports. Gubrud was a second team selection by STATS, the American Football Coaches Association, Associated Press and College Sports Madness. Hero Sports also selected him to its Sophomore All-America squad. Four seniors also received All-America accolades, and a sixth, center Spencer Blackburn, who was picked for the Hero Sports Sophomore All-America squad. 
 
Gubrud and Cooper Kupp were honored on Nov. 22 as the Big Sky Conference co-Offensive MVPs, the first time in league history two players from the same team were selected by the coaches to share the award. Both were unanimous selections as first team selections in the league, with Kupp also becoming just the fourth player in league history to earn first team all-league all four seasons.
 
A total of 13 Eagles overall were honored, including a league-high seven first team selections. Returning for 2017 are first team defensive tackle Jay-Tee Tiuli, second team center Spencer Blackburn, third team cornerback Nzuzi Webster and honorable mention performers Mitch Fettig (safety) and Tristen Taylor (offensive tackle).
 
Blackburn took over as Eastern's starting center in the fourth game of the season for injured senior Jerrod Jones, and earned second team All-Big Sky Conference honors. After Blackburn's insertion into the starting lineup beginning with the Northern Arizona game on Sept. 24, Eastern's five starters on the offensive line for the rest of the year consisted of two redshirt freshmen and a trio of sophomores.
 
Eastern players have now been selected as the Big Sky Conference Offensive MVP in 12 of the last 16 seasons, including six of the last seven.
 
 
Gubrud Breaks Three FCS, Seven Big Sky and 18 EWU Records
 
Sophomore quarterback Gage Gubrud – the Big Sky's co-Offensive MVP along with teammate Cooper Kupp -- put up some remarkable numbers in his first season as EWU's starter, breaking three FCS records, seven Big Sky marks and 18 school records.
 
Gubrud is a 2014 graduate of McMinnville (Ore.) High School and passed for an FCS record 5,160 yards in the 2016 season, breaking the record of 5,076 by Taylor Heinicke of Old Dominion in 2012. His 11 games with at least 300 yards passing and 12 with at least 300 yards of total offense are also FCS records. Gubrud's total of 5,766 yards of total offense were just 33 from the total offense mark of 5,799 set by Steve McNair of Alcorn in 1994. Gubrud broke EWU and Big Sky Conference single season records previous set by Vernon Adams Jr. in 2013 with 4,994 passing yards and 5,559 yards of offense.
 
Gubrud's average of 411.9 yards of offense per game was also a league and school record, and ranks fifth in FCS history. He broke the previous Big Sky record set 25 years prior by Jamie Martin of Weber State with a 394.3 average in 1991. Gubrud's final tally of 368.6 passing yards per game was an EWU school record, breaking the record of 364.5 set by Bo Levi Mitchell in 2011. They were also the second-most in Big Sky history (behind the record of 379.6 set by Dave Dickenson of Montana in 1995) and ranked ninth all-time in FCS.
 
Gubrud also set Big Sky and school records for total offensive plays (704), passing completions (386) and attempts (570), and a school record for rushing yards by a quarterback with 606 (the old record was 605 by Vernon Adams Jr. in 2013). The six single game EWU records he set as a sophomore were for passing yards (520 vs. Montana State), total offense (551 vs. Washington State), touchdowns responsible for (7 vs. UC Davis), points responsible for (42 vs. UC Davis), fewest interceptions per pass attempt (0 in 64 attempts versus Central Arkansas) and completions (47 vs. Central Arkansas), which was also a league record. He has since broken his own records for passing yards and total offense, with 549 passing and 560 total at Montana on Sept. 23, 2017.

 

 
Recent Game Recap

 
Southern Utah 46, #8 Eastern Washington 28
 
Southern Utah held the Eagles without offensive points for more than 35 minutes to rally from a 14-0 deficit, and scored twice in barely over a minute in the fourth quarter to knock off EWU 46-28 in an important Big Sky Conference game in Cedar City, Utah, on Oct. 21. After EWU took a 28-25 advantage with 11:32 left in the game, Southern Utah scored two touchdowns in a 1:15 span in the fourth quarter. The dagger was an Eagle interception at its own 13-yard line that enabled SUU to take a 39-28 lead with 6:24 left. The Eagles were held to an uncharacteristic 382 yards of offense, but had a dominating 173-39 advantage after their first three possessions of the game. But SUU caught fire, out-gaining EWU 416-209 from that point on in ending EWU's 12-game Big Sky Conference winning streak. It was SUU's second-straight victory – and third overall -- against a ranked opponent this season. After coming up empty on its first five possessions – including three-straight three-and-outs for the Eagles – SUU scored on seven of its next nine. Eastern, meanwhile, had seven-consecutive empty possessions – a span of 35:40 -- with the lone score coming on a 96-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Dre' Sonte Dorton. Eastern finished with four turnovers and 85 yards in penalties. Junior quarterback Gage Gubrud finished 24-of-44 for 246 yards and a touchdown, and also rushed for a team-leading 64 yards. Senior Nic Sblendorio had a team-leading six catches for 71 yards, and junior wide receiver Nsimba Webster caught three passes for 28 yards, and for the fourth-straight game had a touchdown reception. Sophomore running back Antoine Custer Jr. rushed for 43 yards and had another 23 on four catches. Sophomore Tysen Prunty had a team-leading 13 tackles in just his second career start. Senior defensive end Albert Havili had 10 tackles, a pass broken up and a quarterback hurry. Junior safety Mitch Fettig had nine tackles, and junior linebacker Kurt Calhoun finished with eight tackles, including a sack.
 
 
 

Series History

 
* Eastern leads the all-time series against Weber State 19-14, and is 9-5 in games played in Cheney. Eastern has won the last three meetings at Roos Field and the last five overall, but were thumped at home in 2009 by a 31-13 score in EWU's last loss to the Wildcats. In the last five meetings, three of them have been decided by six points. Eastern is 8-8 in Ogden, including victories five of the last six times the Eagles and Wildcats have met there. Eastern is also 2-1 versus WSU in games played at Albi Stadium in Spokane
 
Looking Back
* Their defense made a one-point lead hold up for the final 21 minutes of the game and the fifth-ranked Eagles remained unbeaten in the Big Sky Conference with a 14-13 victory over Weber State Oct. 31, 2015, at Roos Field in Cheney, Wash. Eastern recorded its first victory with 14 or less points since defeating Idaho 8-5 in 2003. It was EWU's first win in league play with 14 or less since beating Northern Arizona 14-10 in 1999.With howling 23-mile per hour winds causing havoc in the passing game, two Jordan West-to-Cooper Kupp passing touchdowns held up in the final 21:07 after EWU took a 14-13 lead with 8:53 left in the third quarter. Weber State missed field goals on its next three possessions, then EWU clinched the win by forcing four-straight incompletions on the final possession of the day for Weber State. The fourth was an incompletion on fourth down from the WSU 48-yard line with nine seconds left. Eastern was out-gained in total offense 412-189, and EWU had only 12 yards in the final quarter. But linebacker Miquiyah Zamora led the way for the Eagle defense with a career-high 16 tackles and rover Todd Raynes had 13. Eastern had three sacks, including 1 1/2 by defensive end Samson Ebukam. Mitch Fettig equaled his career high at the time with eight tackles and had a pair of passes broken up. West completed 12-of-25 passes for 121 yards and a pair of touchdowns, and Kupp caught seven passes for 74 yards. Jalen Moore rushed for 68 yards on 18 carries.
* In 2013, also in Cheney, quarterback Vernon Adams accounted for five touchdowns, Mario Brown rushed for 98 yards and the defense did the rest as sixth-ranked Eastern romped past Weber State 41-19 on Oct. 5, 2013, at Roos Field. The Eagles rushed for 279 yards and passed for 214 in their league opener, while holding the Wildcats to 249 total yards. The Eagles scored 14 points before halftime to take a 27-12 lead. Eastern had a 165-14 advantage in the third quarter, turning a 15-point halftime lead into a 29-point bulge entering the final quarter. In just three quarters of action, Adams finished the game 16-of-23 for 194 yards and four touchdowns, and also added 66 yards and a TD on the ground. Cooper Kupp led the Eagles with five catches for 87 yards and a pair of first-quarter touchdowns. Brown had 10 rushes for 98 yards (9.8 per carry), and added two catches for 20 more yards. Three other Eagle running backs combined for 114 yards – Quincy Forte with 51, Demitrius Bronson with 40 and a touchdown and Jalen Moore with 23. Defensively, linebackers Cody McCarthy and Ronnie Hamlin led the Eagles with nine and eight tackles, respectively. Linebacker Miquiyah Zamora added five tackles and an interception in his first career start.
* In 2012 in Ogden, Vernon Adams made his first career start – an unannounced one -- in EWU's 32-26 victory, and used his arm and his feet to lead EWU to a 20-3 halftime lead. Adams led Eastern to scores on four of five drives in the first half, including a 75-yard touchdown march on his first drive as an Eagle. He finished the game 7-of-12 for 75 yards, and ran five times for 62 yards, but missed most of the second half with cramping. Of his five rushes, four were for first downs; of his seven completions, four more resulted in EWU first downs.
* In 2011 in Cheney, Eastern notched its first victory of the season by holding off Weber State 27-21. Weber State rallied from a 24-7 halftime deficit, but Eastern sealed it when Charles Moetului forced a fumble with 21 seconds left that was recovered by teammate Anthony Larry after the Wildcats had driven to the EWU 17-yard line. Linebacker Ronnie Hamlin had 11 tackles and a pass broken up to lead the way on defense, with fellow backers J.C. Agen and Cody McCarthy adding eight and seven tackles, respectively. Nicholas Edwards caught 10 passes for 115 yards, and Greg Herd had 92 yards on three grabs.
* In Ogden  in 2010, Eastern scored 21-straight second-half points to surge past the Wildcats 35-24.  Bo Levi Mitchell passed for 337 yards and four touchdowns and the defense had three interceptions that led to scores. Brandon Kaufman caught five passes for 138 yards and Tyler Washburn had an interception for the Eagles. Eastern finished with 465 yards of offense, and Weber State finished with 459 after having just 150 in the first half. But most importantly for the Eagles, Eastern had leads after all four quarters -- including an 11-point winning margin.
* In 2008, Eastern ended the season with a 33-26 victory over the playoff-bound Wildcats, keeping them from being the first team other than Montana to win the outright Big Sky title since EWU did it in 1997. It enabled Montana to share the league title -- its 11th-straight in a streak that ended at 12 when MSU and EWU shared the 2010 championship.

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