October 26, 2009

After Comeback, Matt Nichols Earns National and Big Sky Player of the Week Accolades

Amidst all the records he's set in his 43-game career as an Eagle, Nichols added a fourth-quarter comeback in Eastern's 35-24 victory over Montana State

For all the football games and records set by Matt Nichols, there was one thing that was missing for the Eastern Washington University senior quarterback -- a comeback victory.

For his efforts in a 35-24 victory over Montana State last Saturday (Oct. 24), Nichols has earned national player of the week accolades as one of four College Sporting News National All-Stars. He was also the Big Sky Conference Offensive Player of the Week, earning his first such honor this season and fifth of his career.

He is from Cottonwood, Calif., and is a 2005 graduate of West Valley High School, and has led the Eagles to a 5-3 record overall and 4-2 league mark thus far. Eastern returns to action this Saturday (Oct. 31) at Qwest Field in Seattle, Wash., when the Eagles host Portland State at 1:05 p.m. in the "Showdown on the Sound." 

Nichols completed 26-of-41 passes for 327 yards and four touchdowns against the Bobcats, including catch-and-run scoring plays to Taiwan Jones of 20 and 38 yards in the fourth quarter. Nichols helped Eastern scored 21 points in the final 12:20 as EWU rallied for a 35-24 victory. His other two touchdown passes were 16 and 15 yards to senior tight end Nathan Overbay, both in the final 53 seconds of the first half.

"Matt played great," praised Eastern head coach Beau Baldwin. "I think there was one ball that I look back on that he forced, but in 41 attempts he took care of the football and was taking hits. He's playing with a lot of young receivers on the outside, with Tony (Davis) and Nate inside. It was great to see Matt finish his career at Woodward with a win."

Eastern clinched the victory with a 12-play, 96-yard drive that took 5:53 off the clock and gave EWU a 35-24 lead with 1:49 remaining. That came after a MSU fourth down touchdown pass was ruled an incompletion with 7:42 to play.

"(Matt) talked about it the other day that he's never really had a comeback," Baldwin said of his senior quarterback, who has nearly 11,000 passing yards in his career. "He won a lot of games in high school without a lot of close games, and here he really never had a comeback. To be down 10 late in the game and to not have (injured wide receiver) Aaron Boyce, he stood up big-time and made some huge plays to bring us back."

Nichols now has 15 career games with at least 300 passing yards, and 17 with at least 300 yards of total offense. He broke EWU's career total offense and passing yardage records in October. He is now 882-of-1,431 (62 percent) for 10,954 yards and 80 touchdowns in his 43-game career. He needs only four touchdown passes for that career record as well.

A four-year starter, broke EWU's career total offense and passing yardage records in October. He is now 882-of-1,431 (62 percent) for 10,954 yards and 80 touchdowns in his 43-game career. He needs only four touchdown passes for that career record as well.

Nichols broke the school record for career passing yards held by the quarterback he replaced, Erik Meyer, who had 10,261 from 2002-05. Now with 11,588 yards of total offense, Nichols broke the previous career record of 10,942 held by Meyer. He also owns EWU's career records for passing completions and attempts, and Nichols also has 634 career rushing yards, trailing Meyer by just 47 yards for the school record of 681 by an Eastern quarterback. Meyer also holds the touchdown passes record with 84.

The starting debut for the 41-game starter came in 2006 when Eastern played at 12th-ranked West Virginia. For the second-straight year he is on the watch list for the Walter Payton Award presented by the Sports Network to the top player in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision.

So far this season, Nichols has thrown for 2,168 yards and 17 touchdowns, while completing 66 percent of his passes to give him a passing efficiency rating of 146.7 to rank 21st in FCS. He is 16th in total offense, averaging 276.5 per game. Nichols has just five interceptions, and had a streak of 151 attempts without a pick ended against Weber State.

Nichols led Eastern to nine victories as a sophomore in 2007 when he passed for 3,744 yards and 34 touchdowns, and had another 392 yards on the ground. As a junior, his numbers (in two less games) slipped to 3,293 yards and 21 touchdowns passing, and 83 yards rushing.

Below is a complete list of his 300-yard outings:

300-Yard Passing Games for Nichols (total of 15)
451 - 37x59, 2td - Montana - 10/6/07 (#3 in school history)
434 - 34x44, 2td - McNeese State - 11/24/07 (#6 in school history)
418 - 34x55, 2td - Portland State - 10/4/08 (#10 in school history)
382 - 26x40, 5td - Idaho State - 9/27/08 (#18 in school history)
363 - 29x43, 1td - Sacramento State - 11/1/08 (#27 in school history)
363 - 19x30, 2td - Portland State - 9/29/07 (#27 in school history)
354 - 24x39, 1td - Weber State - 10/10/09 (#33 in school history)
346 - 25x42, 2td - Northern Arizona - 11/15/08 (#38 in school history)
335 - 36x61, 1td - Texas Tech - 8/30/08 (#43 in school history)
329 - 21x42, 1td - Sacramento State - 9/30/06
328 - 20x29, 3td - Sacramento State - 10/27/07
327 - 26x41, 4td - Montana State - 10/24/09
316 - 17x22, 5td - Northern Arizona - 11/10/07
312 - 32x49, 3td - Montana - 10/17/09
303 - 32x51, 1td - Colorado - 9/6/08

300-Yard Total Offense Games for Nichols (total of 17)
478 - 451 passing, 27 rushing - Montana - 10/6/07
459 - 434 passing. 25 rushing - McNeese State - 11/24/07
435 - 418 passing, 17 rushing - Portland State - 10/4/08
376 - 382 passing, -6 rushing - Idaho State - 9/27/08
375 - 426 passing, 29 rushing - Northern Arizona - 11/15/08
370 - 363 passing, 7 rushing - Portland State - 9/29/07
359 - 256 passing, 103 rushing - Weber State - 11/17/07
359 - 329 passing, 30 rushing - Sacramento State - 9/30/06
364 - 316 passing, 48 rushing - Northern Arizona - 11/10/07
355 - 328 passing, 27 rushing - Sacramento State - 10/27/07
348 - 312 passing, 36 rushing - Montana 10/17/09
344 - 354 passing, -10 rushing - Weber State - 10/10/09
327 - 32 passing. 0 rushing - Montana State - 10/24/09
322 - 335 passing, -13 rushing - Texas Tech - 8/30/08
320 - 363 passing, -43 rushing - Sacramento State - 11/1/08
314 - 303 passing, 11 rushing - Colorado - 9/6/08
313 - 242 passing, 71 rushing - Weber State - 11/22/08

 

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