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Eastern Washington’s difference maker: Sam McPherson

Eastern Washington running back Sam McPherson  breaks a tackle and runs the ball from the Eagles’ 49-yard line to the Sacramento State 13 during the second half Saturday in Cheney. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)
Eastern Washington running back Sam McPherson breaks a tackle and runs the ball from the Eagles’ 49-yard line to the Sacramento State 13 during the second half Saturday in Cheney. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)

Did anyone have more fun Saturday than Eastern Washington running back Sam McPherson?

The junior from Bothell, Washington, not only ran for 56 yards against Sacramento State, but he also got involved in the passing game – on both ends.

Catching three balls for 39 yards from quarterback Gage Gubrud was nice enough, but McPherson put his baseball skills to use in the best razzle-dazzle play of the season so far.

Leading 7-0 midway through the first quarter, the Eagles had just shot themselves in the foot with two consecutive penalties. Facing first-and-24 from the Sacramento State 43-yard-line, offensive coordinator Bodie Reeder called McPherson’s number.

Gubrud dropped back and threw toward the right flat to McPherson, who caught the ball, planted his feet and fired back to his quarterback.

“I definitely love throwing the ball,” said McPherson, who played center field in high school. “I wanted to sell the ball, and then the O-line and Gage played it perfectly.”

Gubrud did the rest, following his blockers all the way to the end zone. That gave Eastern a 14-0 lead and McPherson a quarterback rating of 971.2.

Midway through the third quarter, the Hornets had closed to within 35-24 when Dre’Sonte Dorton returned the ensuing kickoff to the Eastern 49.

McPherson got the call on the next play, bulldozing 25 yards while carrying half of the Hornets’ defense with him.

“The line blocked it perfectly. I found a nice little crease and made someone miss,” said McPherson, who also got a downfield block and a helpful push from wide receiver Nsimba Webster.

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