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10 years after the title: Eastern Washington handles last-place Idaho State to win Big Sky title

EWU defensive tackle Charles Moetului puts a lick on Idaho State quarterback Russel HIll at Roos Field in Cheney, Wash., Saturday November 20, 2010. (Christopher Anderson / The Spokesman-Review)
EWU defensive tackle Charles Moetului puts a lick on Idaho State quarterback Russel HIll at Roos Field in Cheney, Wash., Saturday November 20, 2010. (Christopher Anderson / The Spokesman-Review)

Eastern Washington’s multidimensional offense had its share of slow starts during its national champion run, often taking shape as the game wore on.

The Eagles’ regular season finale – a 34-7 thrashing of Idaho State on Nov. 20, 2010 – wasn’t one of those days.

Third-ranked EWU had plenty of incentive to put the cellar-dwelling Bengals away early at Roos Field.

This chilly Big Sky Conference rout gave the Eagles (9-2, 7-1) a share of the league crown and a favorable seed for the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs.

Then-head coach Beau Baldwin secured his second playoff berth in three seasons, and in convincing fashion after his team zipped out to a 28-7 halftime lead against Idaho State (1-10, 0-8).

He would go on to win four more league titles before becoming the offensive coordinator at California after the 2016 season.

“To finish like this for the seniors and our other players – as Big Sky champions – is huge,” said a Gatorade-drenched Baldwin, now a first-year head coach at Big Sky member Cal Poly.”

It was Senior Day for EWU’s gritty upperclassmen, but the Eagles’ decorated underclassmen stole the show.

Junior quarterback and Southern Methodist transfer Bo Levi Mitchell – now the Canadian Football League’s top signal caller in Calgary – completed 26 of 38 passes for 256 yards and four touchdowns before sitting out the fourth quarter with the game all but decided.

Junior running back Taiwan Jones – now a 10-year veteran with the Buffalo Bills – rushed for 108 yards and hauled in a touchdown pass.

Sophomore wide receiver Brandon Kaufman, who had a brief stint in the NFL, had two touchdown receptions, helping the Eagles eventually host three home playoff games before reaching the FCS title game in Frisco, Texas.

“I think we’ve put ourselves in a good position,” Baldwin said. “The years Montana made those deep runs in the playoffs, a lot of times they had three straight (games) at home before they played in the championship. “

Idaho State tight end Josh Hill, currently a starter for the New Orleans Saints, was held to one catch for 10 yards.

Senior linebacker J.C. Sherritt, now a defensive coordinator at Cal Poly alongside Baldwin, was a force defensively. Sherritt – who would go on to win FCS Defensive Player of the Year (Buck Buchanan Award) and have a fruitful CFL playing career – had eight tackles, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.

“A big goal was winning the Big Sky championship,” the Pullman native said, “and now we get to go for the main one (national championship).”

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