October 24, 2011

Nicholas Edwards Is National Player of the Week

Junior wide receiver ties school record with four TD receptions in come-from-behind overtime win at Sacramento State

Junior Nicholas Edwards has earned a variety of national NCAA Football Championship Subdivision honors, including The Sports Network/Fathead.com co-National Player of Week, after tying a school record with four touchdown receptions in EWU’s 42-35 come-from-behind overtime victory over Sacramento State on Oct. 22.

He also earned National Performer of the Week and National Wide Receiver of the Week from College Football Performance Awards. Edwards was named Big Sky Conference Offensive Player of the Week as well, giving EWU a string of three-straight weeks in winning the award. Quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell won the last two BSC awards for the Eagles, who host Portland State on Senior Day this Saturday (Oct. 29) at 1:05 p.m. Pacific time at Roos Field in Cheney, Wash.

Also honored by the league was senior kicker Mike Jarrett, who made field goals of 28 and 41 yards against Sacramento State to earn Big Sky Conference Special Teams Player of the Week honors. He is an impressive 14-of-16 kicking field goals this season, and is just one field goal from setting the single season school record for field goals and only 15 points from EWU’s career record for kick scoring.

Edwards finished the Sac State game with 11 catches for a career-high 192 receiving yards, and had TD catches of 35, 16, 39 and 22 yards from Mitchell. Jamie Buenzli had four touchdown catches versus Nevada on Sept. 12, 1987, and Joe Pierce had four against Central Washington on Sept. 13, 2003.

Three of his TD catches came in the fourth quarter, and he added a 17-yard reception in overtime that set-up a go-ahead 1-yard touchdown run by Jordan Talley. The 11 catches for Edwards versus the Hornets equaled the 11th-most in school history and his yards ranks eighth. The 2008 graduate of Foss High School in Tacoma, Wash., has had performances of 13 catches (second in school history), 12 (seventh) and 10 (19th) earlier this season.

“When you have on your team Jerry Rice, I mean Nick Edwards, it’s hard not to get him the ball,” joked Mitchell after the Sac State win, in which the Eagles rallied from a 28-13 deficit. “He works hard and puts in the effort and time. He deserves everything he gets and deserves the credit for this win. The plays he made tonight were just ridiculous.”

The 64 catches for Edwards this season already ranks as the 10th-most in school history, and his 11 receiving touchdowns are ninth. He ranks fifth in FCS in receptions per game (8.0) and is eighth in receiving yards per game (105.3). In his career, Edwards already has 21 touchdown receptions to rank fifth in school history, and has caught a total of 147 passes (ninth all-time at EWU) for 1,790 yards.

Mitchell passed for 357 yards in the victory over Sac State, and now ranks second in FCS with an average of 342.0 passing yards per game. He now has 20 touchdown passes on the season after setting the school record with 37 a year ago. He needs just 264 passing yards to record only the 11th performance by an Eagle of at least 3,000 passing yards in a single season.

The Eagles have won their last four games after a 0-4 start for the 2010 NCAA Division I Champions.

“Those two were at it again,” said Baldwin after the Sac State win. “Bo’s last three games have been unreal and Nick has been consistent all season. And I’m proud of our offensive line that has gone through a lot of changes. We have a lot of players banged and bruised, but we’re still finding ways to put up points and get yards.”

Junior Greg Herd, who had 13 catches for 128 yards and a pair of scores in the final four games of 2010, has added 51 catches for 690 yards and five scores thus far this year. He currently ranks 16th in FCS in receptions per game (6.38) and is 18th in receiving yards per game (86.3). And even sophomore Ashton Clark, buried in the depth chart and with no career catches entering the season, has 23 grabs for 322 yards and a pair of scores thus far.

Eastern All-America receiver Brandon Kaufman had a sensational season in 2010, but Edwards produced even bigger numbers for the Eagles in the latter stages of 2010 and the first part of the 2011 season. In the last four games of last year and first four this season before he was lost for the season with a hand injury, Kaufman caught 50 passes for 565 yards and six touchdowns, while Edwards caught 59 for 647 and eight touchdowns in the same time frame.

Kaufman broke a metacarpal in his left hand in the Montana State game on Sept. 24, and will apply for a medical redshirt and miss the rest of the season. That, and a season-ending injury to senior Tyler Hart, has opened the door for Edwards and Herd to become EWU’s premier receivers this season.

 
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