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Big Sky notes: Montana reshaped season after loss to EWU

Losing is no fun, but Montana’s loss to Eastern Washington four weeks ago came with a bonus. “It’s brought us closer together,” All-American defensive end Zack Wagenmann said of a 36-26 defeat in Cheney on Nov. 8 that left the Grizzlies in must-win mode since.

Bearkats have similar path as EWU

Take away the red turf and the snow, and this could just as well be Sam Houston State. Huddled in the parking lot at Roos Field before Saturday’s playoff game, Bearkat fans talked about a surging program ready to make a bigger impression on the national scene.

Eagles’ amazing rally not enough

Apparently the road to Frisco has a fast lane, and Sam Houston State rode it halfway home before Eastern Washington even found the keys. The Bearkats rolled up a five-touchdown lead that Eastern couldn’t overcome even with its best 30 minutes of the season, ensuring a second straight trip to the FCS championship game and leaving the Eagles holding onto a few consolation prizes they probably won’t appreciate for awhile.

Blanchette: Season finished, but Eagles aren’t

For entertainment purposes only, the godfathers of the NCAA’s Football Championship Subdivision might well regret that they don’t cast their title game by audition. But this is tournament football. Every aria, every cameo is earned.

Bearkats batter Montana State in quarterfinal

HUNTSVILLE, Texas – Richard Sincere had a career game, and Sam Houston State dominated the battle of rushing offenses. Sincere rushed for a career-high 160 yards and two touchdowns on 11 carries as Sam Houston State piled up a season-high 428 rushing yards on Saturday in beating Montana State 49-13 in a Football Championship Subdivision quarterfinal game.

Fans flock to celebrate EWU

Hundreds of Eagles fans flocked to downtown Spokane Saturday to continue celebrating Eastern Washington University’s NCAA Division I national football title. The rally included a parade from Washington Street and Main Avenue to River Park Square. It was held in celebration of Eastern’s 20-19 triumph over Delaware on Jan. 7 in the championship game in Frisco, Texas, which capped a 13-2 season full of fourth-quarter wins.

Eagles’ Jones changes agent, starts training

Electrifying Eastern Washington running back Taiwan Jones did many special things for the Eagles on the football field. After they won the FCS championship game with a thrilling come-from-behind 20-19 win over Delaware in Frisco, Texas, last week, they did something for him.

Blanchette: Eagles get their own nation

Connecting in the Denver airport for a flight to Dallas last week, D.J. Sigurdson – attired in Eastern Washington University red – passed by one of those snug-but-soulless concourse lounges and was hailed in a fashion familiar, yet entirely foreign. “Go Eagles!” sang a knot of revelers, also in red.

16 EWU starters could return from title team

FRISCO, Texas – Beau Baldwin, when pressed about the future of Eastern Washington University’s football program following Friday night’s 20-19 win over Delaware in the NCAA Division I Championship at Pizza Hut Park, deferred.     Rather than launch into some glowing assessment of his team’s chances of repeating its unlikely run to EWU’s first D-I title in any sport, the Eagles’ coach kept his comments subdued.

EWU’s Jones limited to highlights

FRISCO, Texas – Eastern Washington University football coach Beau Baldwin might have coined a new injury assessment term on Thursday afternoon when he called Taiwan Jones’ status for today’s NCAA Division I Championship “absolutely doubtful.” Buy it or not, it seems to fit – considering Jones was wearing a plastic protective boot on his left foot while watching his teammates run through one last noncontact practice prior to the 4 p.m. kickoff of today’s title game at Pizza Hut Park.

Projected Delaware lineups

Projected offensive starters Pos. Name Yr. QB Pat Devlin Sr. RB Andrew Pierce Fr. WR Rob Jones So. LT Shea Allard Jr. LG Gino Gradkowski Jr. C Rob McDowell Jr. RG Will Nagle Jr. RT Kevin Uhll Sr. TE Colin Naugle Jr. WR Mark Schenauer Jr. WR Phillip Thaxton Sr. Projected defensive starters Pos. Name Yr. DE Chris Morales Jr. DT Siddiq Haynes Sr. DT Justin Johnson Sr. DE Michael Atunrase Jr. OLB Paul Worrilow So. MLB Matt Marcorelle Sr. OLB Andrew Harrison Jr. CB Anthony Walters Sr. SS Anthony Bratton Sr. FS Darryl Jones Sr. CB Tyrone Grant Sr. Projected special teams Pos. Name Yr. K Mike Perry Jr. P Ed Wagner Sr. KR Phillip Thaxton Sr. PR Rob Jones So.

3 Delaware players to watch

• QB Pat Devlin (17): The numbers this 6-foot-4 second-year transfer from Penn State have posted this fall are incredible. His amazing pass efficiency rating of 155.37 includes a completion percentage of 68.3 (239 of 350), which ranks No. 3 in the nation, 2,812 passing yards and 22 touchdown passes. Oh, but there are those two interceptions – one of which came on a dropped pass and the other on a play in which his receiver was knocked down. If Devlin gets time in the pocket, Eastern could be in for a long day. • RB Andrew Pierce (30): Only a freshman, this 5-11, 200-pounder was named the Colonial Athletic Association’s rookie of the year after winning the starting running back job in fall camp and rushing for 1,513 yards and 13 touchdowns. His average of 108 rushing yards per game ranks 15th nationally and he operates behind a big, experienced offensive line that is, perhaps, the most improved unit on the Blue Hens’ team. Pierce has also caught 28 passes for 181 yards and three touchdowns.