As much as Eastern Washington left guard Will Gram wants to darken the mood of the Kibbie Dome on Saturday when his 11th-ranked Eagles visit Idaho, it’s a special venue for the fifth-year senior.
Gram was raised 12 miles east of the university in the tiny town of Troy, where he enjoyed a fine 8-man football career.
He vividly remembers attending his first Vandals game, a 2006 meeting against Nevada.
The Kibbie Dome housed many of Gram’s high school playoff games. It’s where his older brother, Steven Gram, won a state title.
The University of Idaho is also the employer of his mother, Jena Gram, a budget specialist in the school’s natural science department.
“I had a lot of great memories there, so to go back is very special,” Gram said. “I’ll get to play in front of my home fans again. It will be like a home game to me, kind of.”
Will mom be wearing the red and white of EWU (1-2) or the black and gold of the Idaho (1-2) school that signs her paycheck?
“She’ll be rooting for her son Saturday,” Gram said.
Before Gram was old enough for grade school, the Vandals owned the Idaho-EWU series.
EWU, which earned NCAA Division I-AA (now the Football Championship Subdivision) membership in 1983, lost six of eight against Idaho in the 1980s.
The 1990s weren’t different. Idaho – a former FCS power that moved up to the Football Bowl Subdivision in 1996 before dropping back down in 2018 – beat EWU eight times in 10 tries.
The Eagles, now one of the most successful FCS programs over the last 10 years, have owned Idaho since the turn of the century, beating the Vandals in all three meetings, including a 38-14 rout in Cheney last year.
Idaho, which has won five of its last six home games dating back to last season, looks to return the favor on Saturday.
Here’s a look at the last five memorable Idaho vs. EWU games at the Kibbie Dome:
2012 – EWU 20, Idaho 3: The last time these teams squared off in the Kibbie Dome, quarterback and SMU transfer Kyle Padron debuted for the Eagles, completing a modest 13 of 33 passes for 260 yards, a touchdown and an interception.
Neither offense was particularly sharp, as EWU led 10-3 midway the through the third quarter before Jimmy Pavel’s second field goal and a late Quincy Forte touchdown run helped the eventual FCS semifinalist Eagles pull away.
Najee Lovett hauled in eight passes for 105 yards for Idaho, which went 1-11 and finished last in the Western Athletic Conference.
2003 – EWU 8, Idaho 5: The Eagles won this slugfest after recovering a fumble on Idaho’s 21 late in the third quarter, setting up backup quarterback Erik Meyer’s short touchdown pass to Joe Pierce. It was the beginning of the Meyer era, which culminated in him winning the Walter Payton Award in 2005.
1991 – EWU 34, Idaho 31 (2OT): EWU freshman Alex Lacson kicked a 37-yard field goal in the second overtime to clip the Vandals.
The Eagles (3-5) scored in the first overtime after Mark Tenneson found Tony Brooks on a 25-yard connection. Idaho (4-4) answered with a 18-yard touchdown pass to Yo Murphy
1989 – Idaho 41, EWU 34: Former Coeur d’Alene High star and future Seattle Seahawks quarterback John Friesz passed for 400 yards and three touchdowns, and the Vandals (9-3) held off the Eagles in Moscow.
Dominic Corr had 113 yards rushing for EWU (4-6), which trailed 21-7 to the eventual Big Sky champions before a late rally.
1985 – EWU 42, Idaho 38: Three weeks after Big Sky champion Idaho handled the Eagles 42-21 in a nonconference game, the teams met again in the first round of the I-AA playoffs. Behind EWU quarterback Rick Worman, who completed 29 of 53 passes for 384 yards and three touchdowns, the Eagles, then a I-AA independent, upset the Vandals 42-38.
Worman’s 17-yard touchdown pass to Eric Riley in the closing seconds vaulted EWU, which won its first postseason game at the Division I level, helping the Eagles earn their Big Sky Conference membership in 1987.
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