Eastern Hosts Weber State in Second-Straight Home Game
Eagles try to take advantage of home turf as Wildcats visit for EWU’s annual Hall of Fame game
Eastern Washington Univ. “Eagles”
Weber State “Wildcats”
Saturday, Oct. 1 • 12:37 p.m. Pacific
Roos Field (8,600) • Cheney, Wash.
EWU Coach: Beau Baldwin (Central Washington ‘96)
School Record: 27-15/18-8 Big Sky Conference (4th Season)
Career Record: 37-18 (5th Season -- was 10-3 at CWU in 2007, 6-5 at EWU in 2008, 8-4 at EWU in 2009, 13-2 at EWU in 2010)
2010: 13-2 (NCAA Division I Champions)/7-1 BSC (co-champions)
2011: 0-4/0-1 Big Sky Conference
Last Game: Montana St., 36, EWU 21 (Sept. 24 in Cheney, Wash,)
TV: Televised regionally by Altitude Sports and Entertainment, as well as Comcast Sports Net Northwest.
Radio: 700-AM ESPN “The Ticket” in Spokane. Larry Weir returns for his 21st season calling the play-by-play, with analysis handled by Paul Sorensen.
Internet Radio: www.espnnorthwest.com
Radio iPhone App: Search for “Spokane Radio” and download app
Weekly Coaches Show: Mondays 6 p.m. at the Q Sports Bar and Restaurant at Northern Quest Resort & Casino. . . 700-AM ESPN “The Ticket”, www.espnnorthwest.com & via iphone app. (search for “Spokane Radio” and download app).
Home games in the 2011 season are rare, so the Eastern Washington University football team hopes to take advantage of the opportunities. Playing at “The Inferno” for the second-straight week, the Eagles host Weber State Saturday (Oct. 1) in a Big Sky Conference game at Roos Field in Cheney, Wash.
Kickoff this Saturday is 12:37 p.m. Pacific time in Eastern’s annual Hall of Fame game televised live regionally by Altitude Sports and Entertainment, as well as Comcast Sports Net Northwest. The game matches the 0-4 Eagles versus the 2-2 Wildcats, with EWU entering the game 0-2 in the Big Sky and Weber State leading the way at 2-0.
The radio broadcast of the game, featuring play-by-play announcer Larry Weir, may be heard on 700-AM ESPN "The Ticket", via the web at www.espnnorthwest.com and via iPhone application (search for “Spokane Radio” and download the free app).
The Wildcats opened the 2011 season with a pair of losses to NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision foes, falling at Wyoming 35-32 and Utah State 54-17. But under the direction of veteran coach Ron McBride – now in his 20th year as a collegiate head coach – Weber State rebounded for a 49-17 victory at home against 20th-ranked Sacramento State
Last Saturday, the Wildcats jumped out to a 35-0 halftime lead and pounded Northern Colorado 45-21. Weber State had 513 yards of total offense to improve to 2-2 on the season. Eastern, the defending NCAA Football Championship Subdivision Champions, plays only four home games at Roos Field this season, and opened its home schedule with a 36-21 loss to Montana State last Saturday (Sept. 24).
“We knew that the start of the season would be an absolute dogfight every game, and we just have to keep fighting,” said Eastern head coach Beau Baldwin after the team’s loss to MSU. “Next week is a new week. We’re back at home and these guys have a lot of pride. You know it stings right now -- it hurts. There’s not much you can say to these players, but we’ll come back and be ready to go again next week.”
Eastern was a perfect 8-0 on the new red Sprinturf surface at the “Inferno” last season, including three playoff victories. Eastern is 5-5 against Weber State in Cheney, but has dropped two of the last three meetings at Roos Field (31-13 in 2009 and 28-23 in 2005). Eastern leads the all-time series 15-14, and won last year 35-24 in Ogden in the first of 11-straight victories on Eastern’s way to the NCAA Division I Championship.
Now, the Eagles must find a way to win their final seven games of the season to have any hopes of advancing to the FCS Playoffs for the sixth time in the past eight seasons. This is Eastern’s first 0-4 start since 1983 when the Eagles lost their first five games and won their next five to finish 5-5.
“It’s frustrating – there are no two ways about it,” said Baldwin of his team’s 0-4 start. “We’ll go back and watch film and we’ll come back fighting.”
The Eagles have out-gained opponents in three of four games thus far, but are behind 10-4 in the turnover department. A week after out-gaining Washington 504-250 in total offense, Eastern had a 380-324 edge versus South Dakota. However, the Coyotes rushed for a back-breaking 230 yards, compared to a paltry 11 yards for EWU, which was equally back-breaking. Eastern had 376 total yards – including 139 rushing -- versus Montana, and held UM to 34 yards passing. But the Grizzlies had 316 of their 350 yards on the ground – the first time Eastern has surrendered 300 rushing yards in a game since the 2009 season-opener against California when the Bears finished with 342. Eastern had a 315-287 advantage in total offense through three quarters versus Montana State, but ended up getting out-gained 416-371.
Eastern returns 15 starters from last year’s team that finished with a school-record 13 wins and just two losses. Twelve Eagle players garnered preseason honors, including seven who received All-America honors at the NCAA FCS level. Those players include quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell, wide receiver Brandon Kaufman, center Chris Powers and tackle Gabriel Jackson on offense, and safety Matt Johnson, linebacker Zach Johnson and tackle Renard Williams on defense.
PDF Link to Fact Book
The complete version of the 2011 EWU football fact book may be
Football Links and Headlines
EWU Football Web Page - http://goeags.com/sports/m-footbl/index
EWU Football News & Notes - http://www.goeags.com/sports/m-footbl/2011-12/news
Link to Football Ticket & RV Parking Information: http://goeags.com/tickets/ewas-fbticketcentral.html
Link to Football Game Day and Parking Information Page: http://goeags.com/trads/ewas-gameday.html
Big Sky Conference Football - http://www.bigskyconf.com/index.aspx?tab=football&path=football
Spokane Spokesman-Review EWU Football Page - http://www.spokesman.com/eagles
The Sports Network (FCS Football) - http://www.sportsnetwork.com/merge/tsnform.aspx?c=sportsnetwork&page=cfoot2/indexpic.htm
NCAA FCS Football - http://www.ncaafootball.com/DivisionIFCS.aspx
NCAA Statistics - http://web1.ncaa.org/mfb/mainpage.jsp?year=2011
College Sporting News - http://www.collegesportingnews.com
Championship Subdivision News - http://www.championshipsubdivisionnews.com
Eastern Falls Out of Rankings for First Time Since October 2009
Eastern fell out of The Sports Network/Fathead.com FCS Top 25 Poll for the first time since Oct. 26, 2009, after holding the No. 1 position for the first two weeks of 2011, as well as the polls at the end of the 2010 regular season and postseason. A 30-27 near-miss loss at Washington on Sept. 3 actually helped EWU solidify its hold on No. 1, but a disappointing 30-17 loss at South Dakota on Sept. 10 dropped EWU to 10th. A 17-14 loss at Montana dropped EWU to 21st, and was followed by a 36-21 home loss to Montana State that knocked Eastern out.
Montana State is ranked fourth, while Montana is 19th and South Dakota is 21st. Sacramento State, Eastern’s opponent in Sacramento on Oct. 22, is 25th. Weber State received 140 votes to rank 30th and Eastern received 50 to rank 38th.
Eastern’s killer early-season schedule has included matchups with a Pac-12 Conference foe (Washington) and three-straight nationally-ranked FCS foes. After coming an interception with 29 seconds left away from upsetting Washington in the 30-27 loss, Eastern fell at South Dakota and Montana to come up empty during a season-opening three-game road stretch. Eastern lost at a South Dakota team that has now won 36 of their last 41 games at home (88 percent), and at Montana, which has won 90 percent of its games (165-21) all-time at Washington-Grizzly Stadium .
In the FCS Coaches Poll, Montana State leads the way at third, with Montana ranked 16th, South Dakota 21st and Sacramento State 25th. Weber State received 20 votes to rank 29th and Eastern received five to rank 39th.
Hall of Fame Ceremonies Take Place Oct. 1
Five individuals and the 1949-50 men’s basketball team will be inducted into the Eastern Athletics Hall of Fame in ceremonies that will take place on Oct. 1, 2011, in Cheney, Wash.
The inductees will be honored with a sold-out breakfast and ceremony that starts at 9 a.m. on Oct. 1 at the Pence Union Building. Inductees will also be honored at halftime of EWU’s football game against Weber State that begins at 12:35 p.m. Pacific time.
The new inductees include the 1949-50 men’s basketball team, which finished 23-7 and won the Evergreen Conference title with a 13-1 mark in the league’s second year of existence. Despite falling short in advancing to the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Tournament, that team was called by legendary Eastern head coach Red Reese as "my best basketball club."
Individual inductees include a pair of standouts from the 1940’s -- sprinting sensation Holt Brewer and basketball standout Jack “Rabbit” Roffler. Brewer set school records in the 100-yard and 220-yard dashes, and competed in the 1948 Olympic Trials. Roffler was a “dribbling and driving lay-in artist” who helped Eastern to a collective record of 79-16 (.832 winning percentage) and two NAIA Tournament berths.
Baseball pitcher Richard “Curly” Rousseau will also be inducted for his record-breaking performance on the mound in 1970 for Eastern. Rousseau earned honorable mention All-America honors, as he had five shutouts in 1970 to rank as the school record for both a single season and career. His 1.09 earned run average in 1970 ranks second in school history, as he finished 6-2. He has since gone on to serve as President of the Eagle Athletic Association, helping that fund-raising group break records as well.
The other two inductees competed for Eastern in the school’s infancy in the NCAA Division I ranks. Former football cornerback and punt returner Rob Friese was a small-town football player from Lebam, Wash., who became a record-breaking Eastern football player from 1982-85. He helped Eastern to a 9-3 record as a senior in 1985 and the quarterfinal round of the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision Playoffs (then known as I-AA). He had 169 tackles, nine interceptions, 16 passes broken up and a 12.1 average per punt return in his career.
Volleyball setter Suzanne Vick earned second-team All-Northwest Region honors in 1989 when she helped lead Eastern to the NCAA Tournament after winning Big Sky Conference regular season and tournament titles. She Eastern win its first-ever Big Sky Conference regular season and tournament titles to advance to the program’s first-ever NCAA Tournament, finishing 25-7 overall and 14-2 in the league. Vick set the single season school record with 1,367 assists.
Six former EWU administrators will be honored on Oct. 1 with the Eastern Athletics Hall of Fame Service and Contribution Award for their tireless efforts in the 1970’s and the 1980’s in helping Eastern achieve and maintain NCAA Division I status and become a member of the Big Sky Conference.
The six administrators are headlined by former EWU President H. George Frederickson (1977-87), who spearheaded Eastern’s drive to National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I status after being a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) for most of the school’s history.
Helping Frederickson and Eastern along that path were Ken Dolan (former assistant to the president), Russ Hartman (former vice president for business and finance), Jim Kirschbaum (former board of trustees chair) and Bill Shaw (former chief financial officer).
Also honored posthumously will be former athletic director Ron Raver, who was inducted into the Eastern Athletics Hall of Fame in 2001. Raver will be represented Oct. 1 by his wife, Karen, and son, Tim.
Established in 1996, this year’s inductees will bring the total number of individuals in the Hall of Fame to 58, eight teams and 11 recipients of the Eastern Athletics Hall of Fame Service and Contribution Award.
Eagles Suffer Rare Loss at Home to Bobcats
Playing the Montana State Bobcats at Roos Field was expected to be an added bonus for EWU. Before the loss, the Eagles were 9-1 all-time versus MSU in Cheney (2-2 all-time in Spokane), and had not lost to Montana State in the last seven times they had met at Roos Field, dating back to a 28-25 double-overtime victory by the Bobcats in 1990.
Montana State out-gained Eastern 129-56 in the fourth quarter and scored the game’s final 10 points en route to a 36-21 victory. Eastern’s four losses this season have now been versus a Pac-12 Conference member and three versus nationally-ranked NCAA Football Championship Subdivision foes (South Dakota, Montana, MSU).
Eastern had a short-lived 14-10 lead early in the second quarter before MSU took the lead for good. It was only Eastern’s second lead all season – the first was 10-7 against Washington on Sept. 3 in the first and second quarters.
“We’re just starting a little bit slow and having to play from behind, so we have to find different ways to get a lead early,” said Baldwin. “We had opportunities to take the lead when it was a back and forth game. We just have to find a way to get one more drive and punch one more in.”
Mitchell, Edwards, Team Passing are All Fifth in NCAA Statistics
Eastern quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell and wide receiver Nicholas Edwards are fifth this week in NCAA Football Championship Subdivision statistics. Mitchell is fifth in passing yards (335.5) and is fourth in total offense (326.0) per game, and Edwards is fifth in receptions per game (8.25 with a total of 33). Receiver Brandon Kaufman is 14th in receiving (7.25 with 29 total), and Kaufman and Edwards are 17th and 20th, respectively, in receiving yards per game (93.3 and 91.5).
The Eagles are ranked fifth in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision in passing offense (335.5 yards per game), but are also just 110th out of 121 FCS teams in rushing offense (72.3). Eastern is 29th overall in total offense (407.8) and 84th in scoring (19.8). Defensively, Eastern is 37th in FCS in total defense, allowing an average of 335.0 yards per game. Eastern is second in passing defense (103.0), 113th in rushing defense (232.0) and 73rd in scoring defense (28.3). The Eagles, however, are just 103rd in turnover margin (-1.5 per game) after ranking 17th in FCS last year and sixth in 2009.
Weber State’s top team rankings thus far are 11th in total offense (447.3), 14th in scoring offense (35.8) and 19th in rushing offense (207.5). Although the Wildcats are 106th in total defense (459.3), they are 58th in passing efficiency defense (125.3). Quarterback Mike Hoke is 33rd in total offense (245.0) and ninth in passing efficiency (160.0). Josh Kealamakia is 23rd nationally in average per punt (42.12).
No Winning Rallies Yet For Eagles
Already 0-4, Eastern hasn’t been able to produce the magic that propelled the Eagles to the 2010 NCAA Division I title. Eastern came an interception away -- with 29 seconds left -- from upsetting Washington on Sept. 3, then a week later failed to rally from a 21-0 deficit in a 30-17 loss to South Dakota. Eastern trailed by 10 against the Coyotes and was driving for a score in the fourth quarter, but an interception and 66-yard return was the big blow in squelching that EWU comeback attempt.
Eastern fell behind 10-0 to the Grizzlies, but rallied to pull within three points in the fourth quarter. The 10th-ranked Eagles held No. 12 Montana scoreless on its final five possessions of the game, but Eastern was unable to score in its last three. An interception with 25 seconds to play iced the win for the Grizzlies.
And Eastern pulled to within 26-21 early in the fourth quarter versus Montana State, but the Bobcats scored the final 10 points of the game and out-gained the Eagles 129-56 in the final stanza.
A year ago, Eastern was no stranger to narrow victories. In nine of their wins last season, the Eagles trailed or were tied in the fourth quarter of six of them, in one they trailed in the third quarter and in the other two they were scoreless in the final stanza. Included was a 20-19 victory in the national championship game when the Eagles rallied from a 19-0 deficit to score three touchdowns in the final 16:48.
Eastern out-gained Washington 504-250 in total offense, but lost the turnover battle 4-0 and narrowly lost to the Huskies 30-27 in front of 58,088 fans at Husky Stadium in Seattle, Wash. The Eagles had a chance to win the game, but Washington’s Desmond Trufant – the younger brother of former Eagle Isaiah Trufant – intercepted a pass in the end zone with 29 seconds left to ruin Eastern’s upset bid. The loss spoiled a remarkable performance by senior quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell, who had the second-most passing yards in school history with 473.
2010 All-America Recap
Six Eagles earned All-America honors in 2010, including four who will return in the 2011 season. Junior wide receiver Brandon Kaufman was honored as a sophomore, while center Chris Powers, safety Matt Johnson and defensive lineman Renard Williams earned All-America accolades as juniors.
Kaufman was selected to the College Sports News “Sweet 63” All-America Team and the Phil Steele Publications All-America fourth team. Johnson was also on the “Sweet 63” squad, and earned second-team honors from Phil Steele and third team accolades from the Sports Network. Powers was a first-team choice by the Sports Network and picked to the Phil Steele third team. Williams, a two-time first-team All-Big Sky Conference selection, was selected to the “Sweet 63” squad.
In addition, quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell was selected as the Most Outstanding Player in the NCAA Division I Championship game, and Kaufman was chosen by the College Sporting News as its playoffs MVP.
Head coach Beau Baldwin received numerous national accolades as well, including the College Sporting News Coach of the Year and the same honor from the American Football Monthly. He was on the voting list for the 2010 Eddie Robinson Award presented by The Sports Network, and was a finalist for the Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year award.
The only two departed All-Americans were running back Taiwan Jones and linebacker J.C. Sherritt, who won the 2010 Buck Buchanan Award presented by The Sports Network to the top defensive player in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision. Sherritt was also selected to six different All-America teams as a first-team selection, and was the College Sporting News Defensive Player of the Year and the Big Sky Defensive MVP.
Jones, who had a year of eligibility remaining but declared himself eligible for the NFL Draft, finished fourth in the voting for the 2010 Walter Payton Award presented by The Sports Network to the top offensive player in the FCS. He was also selected to five different All-America teams as a first-team selection, and was the Phil Steele Publications FCS Offensive Player of the Year, the College Football Performance Awards Running Back of the Year and the Big Sky Offensive MVP.
In addition, the Inland Northwest Sportswriters and Broadcasters (SWABS) selected Eastern as its Team of the Year, Baldwin as its Coach of the Year and Sherritt as the Male Amateur Athlete of the Year.
More Players to Watch
A total of 10 players return who earned All-Big Sky Conference honors a year ago, including two-time All-Big Sky Conference first-team defensive tackle Renard Williams. Also receiving first-team accolades and back for the 2011 season are junior wide receiver Brandon Kaufman, senior center Chris Powers, senior safety Matt Johnson and senior special teams standout Darriell Beaumonte.
Johnson’s twin brother, senior linebacker Zach Johnson, was a second-team selection, as was returning senior offensive tackle Gabriel Jackson. Eastern’s honorable mention selections back for the 2011 season include sophomore offensive guard Steven Forgette, senior quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell and junior safety Jeff Minnerly.
A total of 19 players were honored, including eight seniors. Entering the 2010 season, only five players returned who had earned All-Big Sky honors the year before.
Eastern Returns 30 Players With Combined 335 Starts
The Eagles return 30 players with a combined 335 starts between them entering the 2011 season. Of Eastern’s 19 letter winners lost, 13 combined for 191 starts -- including 22 by Taiwan Jones, who left EWU early to declare himself eligible for the NFL Draft.
There were 15 players with starting experience returning on both offense and defense, with 168 total starts on defense and 167 on offense. By contrast, a total of 24 players with starting experience (total of 196 starts) returned for the 2010 season.
Here are the current number of career starts by Eastern players on the 2011 roster.
Defense (211 starts by 20 players): Matt Johnson 42, Renard Williams 32, Zach Johnson 30, Tyler Washburn 21, Paul Ena 17, Evan Cook 14, Jeff Minnerly 11, David Gaylord 11, Allen Brown 7, Grant Williams 3 (includes one start on offense in 2009), Jerry Ceja 3, Charles Moetului 4, Alden Gibbs 4, T.J. Lee 3, Ronnie Hamlin 2, Anthony Larry 2, Bobby Gentry 2, Jeremy Chaten 1, Will Katoa 1, Rusty Haehl 1.
Offense (212 starts by 20 players): Chris Powers 31, Gabriel Jackson 30, Nicholas Edwards 30, Brandon Kaufman 23, Bo Levi Mitchell 18, Steven Forgette 17, Will Post 15, David Miles 12 (includes eight career starts on defense), Zack Gehring 10, Mario Brown 5, Darriell Beaumonte 3, Tyler Hart 3, Greg Herd 3, Caleb Worthington 2, Jase Butorac 2, Brandon Murphy 2, Jordan Talley 1, Drew Reynolds 1, Demitrius Bronson 1, Ashton Miller 1, Nick Gauthier 1, Ryan Seto 1.
Six Eagles Make Starting Debuts Versus Huskies
Six Eagles made the first starts of their careers versus Washington on Sept. 3, including just two on offense and four on defense.
On offense, sophomore Ashton Miller started at right guard, but his debut had a horrible finish. As he was helping Eastern toward a convincing 504-250 advantage in total offense, he suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon that will sideline him for the rest of the season. He is from Vancouver, Wash., and graduated from Evergreen High School in 2009.
The other starting debut on offense was by offensive tackle Caleb Worthington, who was an injury replacement for injured starter Will Post. He is a sophomore from Boise, Idaho, and graduated from Mountain View High School in 2007. All other offensive players had made at least one start in their careers.
On defense, a pair of senior cornerbacks made their starting debuts – Jeremy Chaten and Alden Gibbs. Chaten is a 2007 graduate of Seattle’s Franklin High School, and Gibbs is a former Eastern basketball player in just his second season of collegiate football. He is from Brooklyn, N.Y.
Senior Charles Moetului started at defensive tackle in his first start in the 30th collegiate game of his career. Senior Bobby Gentry played in his 36th career game, and made the first start of his career at weak-side outside linebacker. Moetului is a 2007 graduate of Mount Si High School and is from North Bend, Wash., while Gentry is a 2007 graduate of Seattle’s Kennedy HS. Eastern’s strong-side linebacker position was manned by junior Grant Williams, who started once before as a fullback in 2009 but made his first start on defense versus UW. He is a 2008 graduate of Rogers High School in Puyallup, Wash.
Against South Dakota on Sept. 10, cornerback T.J. Lee and offensive guard Jase Butorac made their first career starts. Lee is a 2009 graduate of West Seattle High School. Butorac and defensive linemen Evan Day are both 2010 graduates of Skyline High School in Sammamish. Day had his first career sack and forced fumble versus the Huskies, and had another sack the following week versus South Dakota.
Washington transfer Demitrius Bronson made his Eagle debut on Sept. 3 against Washington after playing previously for the Huskies. The 2008 graduate of Kentwood High School in Kent, Wash., made the first start of his career at Montana on Sept. 17. Also making his starting debut against the Grizzlies was sophomore linebacker Ronnie Hamlin, a 2009 graduate of Timberline High School in Lacey, Wash. After missing his redshirt freshman season with a knee injury, Hamlin had a team-leading eight tackles in his collegiate debut versus the Huskies, four against South Dakota and seven in his starting debut at Montana.
Because of injuries, Drew Reynolds received his first career start against Montana State on Sept. 24. He is a 2009 graduate of Foss High School in Tacoma, Wash., and his older brother, Levi, lettered as a senior for the Eagles in 2010. True freshman running back Jordan Talley rushed for 114 yards against Montana on Sept. 17, and a week later received his first career start versus MSU. A 2011 graduate of Jesuit High School in Portland, Ore., Talley rushed for 108 yards and two touchdowns in his starting debut.
Washington State transfer Jake Miller and Boise State transfer Jimmy Pavel saw their first action as Eastern’s punter and kickoff specialist, respectively, in Eastern’s opener against Washington.
Turnovers a Key to Eagle Success
Eastern head coach Beau Baldwin has continually preached the importance of turnover margin, and the Eagles took it to heart in the 2009 and 2010 seasons.
But this year, so far, the Eagles are down 10-4 in that department and have given up 37 points off turnovers, while scoring 10 off the four they’ve forced. Out of 121 teams in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision, Eastern is just 103rd in turnover margin (-1.5 per game) after ranking 17th in FCS last year and sixth in 2009. Eastern dominated Washington in total offense 504-250, but lost the turnover battle 4-0 as the Huskies capitalized with two short touchdown drives coming after turnovers by EWU’s punt return unit. An interception also led to a Husky field goal, and UW clinched the win with an interception in the end zone with 29 seconds left. South Dakota returned an interception for a touchdown, then turned another interception into a 66-yard return and eventually a field goal that gave the Coyotes a 13-point lead. Eastern had two interceptions and intercepted one versus Montana on Sept. 17.
In 2010, the Eagles ranked first nationally in interceptions (total of 26) and turnovers gained (47), and finished 17th nationally in turnover margin (.80 less turnovers per game than its opponents) after ranking sixth in 2009 (1.25 less).
In the last two years, Eastern is 14-0 when it has fewer turnovers than its opponent. In 2010, the Eagles were 8-0 (11-0 including ties in turnovers with Sacramento State, Portland State and Delaware) after going 6-0 in 2009 when it won the turnover battle. In those 14 games, Eastern has had a 55-19 advantage in turnovers (33-15 in 2010 and 22-4 in 2009).
To illustrate its importance, in four-straight games in the 2010 FCS Playoffs, Eastern played a team ranked in the top seven nationally in turnover margin and significantly higher than the Eagles. Yet, Eastern forced more turnovers in those four games (13) than it committed (10).
“It’s right there in front of you,” said Baldwin. “When you start getting into the playoffs and look at the teams that made it that far, you see what they all have in common are really good turnover margins. That is still the statistic that means the most to us, and it’s what we stress the most to the team. It determines your win-loss record more than any other statistic. It’s something we emphasize on both sides of the ball, and we’ll hit upon it in the spring and again in the fall. You have to try to simulate it and mentally get it into your head during practices. You have to work on drills, but as much as anything, it has to be such a focus mentally that you believe you are going to win that battle week-after-week.”
The Eagles also averaged more than two giveaways per game in the 2010 season – 19 fumbles and 16 interceptions for a total of 35.
“Even though we won the national title, we lacked in some areas,” Baldwin explained. “One of them was our ball security. We ended with a really good turnover margin, but that was because we led the nation in interceptions and takeaways. But the giveaway part on offense and special teams is something we need to improve on.”
Eastern’s offensive line continues to be decimated by injuries, with All-America senior center Chris Powers (knee) the latest casualty. He missed most of Eastern’s game versus Montana State, becoming the fifth Eastern starting offensive lineman to miss action already this year because of injuries. Converted tight end Patrick Mealey took his place, as MSU finished with six sacks and three quarterback hurries.
Starting guards Steven Forgette (broken fibula) and Jase Butorac (knee sprain) suffered injuries against Montana on Sept. 17 and missed the MSU game. Butorac was already taking the place of Ashton Miller, who was lost for the season with a ruptured Achilles tendon in EWU’s opener against Washington. In the middle of the UM game, Eastern pulled former offensive lineman Brandon Murphy away from the defensive line to fill-in for Butorac. Murphy started against Montana State and will now move back to the offensive line for the remainder of the season. Sophomore Drew Reynolds filled in for Forgette and made his Eagle starting debut against MSU.
Tackle Will Post (ankle), who missed EWU’s first two games, fortunately returned to play versus the Grizzlies. Miller is a 2009 graduate of Evergreen High School in Vancouver, Wash., and was making his first-ever start for the Eagles in the game versus the Huskies, in which EWU outgained UW in total offense 504-250.
“It’s really interesting with the offensive line, to say the least,” said Eastern head coach Beau Baldwin. “I’m just so proud of the players that have stepped in there. I mean we’re talking about a guy who stepped in from tight end to play center. Do you know the difficulty of that? It’s unreal. And then we’ve got a couple other guys switching positions, whether that be tackle to guard or defensive tackle to guard. It’s not easy. I’ve been proud of those guys, but it’s a challenge. I don’t know where Powers is right now but you can’t control that. All you can control is going forward. And we’ll regroup next week, see where we are and go from there.”
Besides the offensive line, Eastern has also had to deal with several injuries at linebacker. Zach Johnson (knee) continues to play, but saw limited action versus Montana State on Sept. 24 and is doubtful for the Weber State game. His backup, Bobby Gentry (bicep) is questionable. True freshman linebacker Cody McCarthy had arthroscopic knee surgery during the preseason and made his Eagle debut versus Montana on Sept. 17.
Receiver/returner Tyler Hart (knee) missed EWU’s first three games, but returned to catch a nine-yard pass versus Montana State. He also entered the year expected to be Eastern’s punt returner, and his absence versus the Huskies hurt EWU. Eastern’s punt return unit had two turnovers and a mental error late in the game.
Eastern Entered 2011 Season 8-0 at the “Inferno”
Finishing 8-0 at home in the 2010 season, the Eagles were the first Eastern team to go undefeated at Roos Field (formerly Woodward Field) since 1999 when EWU was 4-0. But it wasn’t easy -- in two games the Eagles trailed in the fourth quarter (Sacramento State, North Dakota State), in two they were tied in the final stanza (Montana and Southern Utah) and in another game the Eagles were scoreless in the fourth (Northern Arizona). They capped the unbeaten season with a 41-31 victory over Villanova on Dec. 17 in the semifinals of the FCS Playoffs.
“We feel like we had a home field advantage in the 2010 season, and our goal was to go undefeated at home,” said Eastern head coach Beau Baldwin.
Other years Eastern was unbeaten at its current stadium site in Cheney came in 1997 (6-0), 1979 (5-0), 1974 (3-0) and 1967 (4-0). The 1985 team was 4-0 and the 1984 squad was 5-0 when all of EWU’s home games were played at Albi Stadium in Spokane. In 1982, Eastern was 5-0 at home -- 3-0 in Cheney and 2-0 in Spokane. In 1966, the year before Roos Field (formerly Woodward Field) opened for the first time, Eastern was 4-0-1 at Albi.
Eastern had a successful debut on its new red synthetic Sprinturf surface Sept. 18 in Cheney, Wash., defeating rival Montana 36-27 in the first game at Roos Field (formerly Woodward Field). Eastern scored the go-ahead points with four seconds left on a 31-yard field goal by Mike Jarrett, then added a fumble return for a touchdown on the final play to create bedlam after a record crowd of 11,702 attended the game against the 12-time defending league champions.
Eastern followed that with a 21-14 victory over Northern Arizona three weeks later on Oct. 9, needing a huge defensive effort in the fourth quarter to hold-off the Lumberjacks. The Eagles had five turnovers in the game and NAU had 30 more offensive plays and a 10-minute edge in time of possession, but EWU stopped NAU three times on downs in its final three possessions of the game. Those drives ended at the Eastern 36, 3 and 38 yard lines, with 17:45, 11:33 and 3:37 left in the game.
The third victory was just as suspenseful, as Eastern led 21-0 early in the second quarter against Sacramento State on Oct. 23, but was out-scored 24-0 to fall behind mid-way through the fourth quarter. But the Eagles responded with a key defensive stop that was highlighted by a third down sack by sophomore defensive end Paul Ena followed by a 35-yard scoring drive that was capped by a Brandon Kaufman 6-yard touchdown catch from Bo Levi Mitchell with 33 seconds to play.
The fourth win was also a great escape, this time by a 31-24 score over Southern Utah on Nov. 13. Eastern was out-gained in total offense 484-366, and was shredded for 434 passing yards. But Eastern survived to win thanks to a pair of scoring plays of at least 62 yards, two huge touchdown catches by Brandon Kaufman, two interceptions in the last six minutes by Jesse Hoffman and a 4-1 advantage in the turnover department. Kaufman scored the winning points with 3:39 to play.
Finally, the Eagles had a breather against Idaho State in a 34-7 win. Tied at seven early in the second quarter, Eastern scored three touchdowns in the last 12:01 of the quarter -- all on touchdown passes from Bo Levi Mitchell. The Eagles led 28-7 at halftime and added a pair of field goals in the second half while holding the Bengals scoreless.
In the playoffs, a 37-17 win over Southeast Missouri State saw the Eagles out-score the Redhawks 20-0 in the second half after the game was tied 17-all at halftime. Against North Dakota State in the quarterfinals, the Eagles had to put together a 90-yard drive to tie the game with 23 seconds left, then won it in overtime with a 25-yard touchdown pass on the first play. A Bison fumble at EWU’s 1-yard line ended the game. The Eagles scored 20 unanswered points to take a 20-7 lead versus Villanova in the semifinals on Dec. 17, and they never trailed or were tied after that.
“It’s only the beginning, but we’re very happy to have it,” said Baldwin of EWU’s home-field advantage. “It’s something that our players have really grabbed onto as their own. It’s their home and they take pride in it.”
Eastern finished just off the pace to set the single season attendance record, with an average of 6,473 fans per game that ranks sixth in school history. Included was a Roos Field record crowd of 11,702 against Montana on Sept. 18. That crowd broke the previous school record of 11,583 set in a 2006 game versus the Grizzlies, helping the Eagles to an average that ranks just behind the record of 7,116 fans per game set in 2006.
Nine Former Eagles Currently in the NFL or CFL
Eastern has three former players currently playing in the National Football League and another six currently in the Canadian Football League.
A newcomer in the NFL is running back Taiwan Jones (Oakland Raiders), who rushed for 81 yards and a touchdown in his debut in a preseason game on Aug. 28 against New Orleans. The other current Eastern professional in the NFL is offensive tackle Michael Roos (Tennessee Titans), who now has 165 consecutive starts (through 9/18/11) dating back to his 2002 season at EWU. The third is cornerback Isaiah Trufant, who is back with the New York Jets -- a team he started his NFL career with in 2009.
After being waived by the Philadelphia Eagles on Aug. 30, Trufant flew home to the Seattle area, but was then signed by the Jets. Though he made New York’s initial 53-man roster after final cuts, he was waived Sept. 4 before being signed to the practice squad the following day. He was activated to the 53-man roster 24 hours before NBC’s Sunday night national telecast of New York’s season opener versus Dallas on Sept. 11. He had two tackles, and returned a blocked punt 18 yards for a touchdown that knotted the score at 24 with 5:08 left in the 27-24 Jets win. Trufant’s older brother, Marcus, plays for the Seattle Seahawks and his younger brother, Desmond, plays for Washington. Desmond had the victory-clinching interception in the end zone with 29 seconds left in EWU’s 30-27 loss to the Huskies.
The week prior to the EWU-Washington game on Sept. 3 was particularly tough for a pair of other former Eagles. Cornerback Jesse Hoffman was with the Seattle Seahawks before being cut on Aug. 29, just four days before Seattle hosted Jones and Oakland (and the night before Eastern played Washington). Tight end Nathan Overbay (Tampa Bay Buccaneers) was also cut that week.
Current Eastern professionals in the CFL include linebacker J.C. Sherritt (Edmonton Eskimos), who had 11 tackles in his regular season debut and has been among the league leaders in tackles as a rookie. Through 10 games, he had 58 tackles to rank second in the CFL. He is teammates at Edmonton with quarterback Matt Nichols and defensive end Greg Peach, who won the Buck Buchanan Award for Eastern in 2008 – two years before Sherritt won the same award. Also in the CFL are veteran defensive lineman Dario Romero (Saskatchewan Roughriders) and veteran defensive back Ryan Phillips (British Columbia Lions), as well as linebacker Shea Emry (Montreal Alouettes).
Former Eagle Tony Brooks on Commercial for State Farm Insurance
Former Eastern all-time leading receiver Tony Brooks is a State Farm Insurance agent, and he plays one in a popular television commercial for State Farm. In it, he is credited for buying a couple a live falcon because he saved the family so much on insurance. The video may be viewed at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i7ZpWFTUz34
Brooks lettered for Eastern from 1990-93 and is from Tacoma, Wash., and Mount Tahoma High School. He was a third team NCAA Football Championship Subdivision (then known as I-AA) All-American in 1993. He finished his career with a record 167 receptions (now fifth) for 3,013 yards and 26 touchdowns. He played on Eastern’s 1992 squad that shared the Big Sky Conference title with Idaho and advanced to the FCS Playoffs. He signed a contract with Winnipeg of the CFL in 1994 before going into the insurance business. Eastern selected him to its “100 for 100” All-Time Team in 2008. In 1999, Dick Zornes selected him to the "Z" Team consisting of 36 players that he felt were the best players and made the largest contributions toward the 158 games Eastern won in Zornes' 26-year association with Eagle Football.
Five Eagles Named as Co-Captains for 2011 Season
Five seniors who all earned preseason All-America honors have been selected by their teammates as Eastern Washington University’s co-captains for the 2011 football season, head coach Beau Baldwin has announced.
The players include one returning captain, quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell from Katy, Texas. The other two offensive captains include center Chris Powers and tackle Gabriel Jackson. Powers is from Black Diamond, Wash., and graduated from Tahoma High School in 2007. Jackson is from Tacoma, Wash., and graduated in 2007 from Mount Tahoma HS.
Captains on defense are twins Matt and Zach Johnson, who both graduated from Tumwater (Wash.) High School in 2007. Matt is a four-year starter at strong safety and Zach Johnson is a three-year starter at linebacker, with his entire 2009 season wiped out with a blood clot in his leg.
“This team is full of a lot of good leaders,” said Baldwin. “As we get into the early part of the season, we know there are going to be some tough moments. Our goal in each game on our schedule is to be focused and win, but even during great weeks you are going to have a lot of moments of adversity and when things are not going right. I think our good leaders are going to develop into great leaders when we have to battle through some things. I’m excited to see who emerges.”
All five players earned preseason All-America honors as selected by various news services as they entered the season with a combined 131 starts in their careers. Matt Johnson led the way with 38 starts, followed by Powers with 27, Jackson and Zach Johnson with 26 apiece, and Mitchell with 14 in his first season after transferring from SMU. The Johnson twins have started every game they have played as Eagles.
Powers and Matt Johnson were both All-Americans last season when they helped lead Eastern to the NCAA Division I Championship. Mitchell was named as the Outstanding Player in the title game when Eastern rallied for a 20-19 victory over Delaware.
Four Eagles on Watch Lists for Top Honors
Eagle senior quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell and junior wide receiver Brandon Kaufman were selected during the summer as two of the 20 players on the “Watch List” for the 2011 Walter Payton Award given annually by The Sports Network to the top player in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision.
A week later, safety Matt Johnson and defensive tackle Renard Williams were named to the 20-player preseason watch list for the 2011 Buck Buchanan Award given by The Sports Network to the top defensive player in FCS. The Buchanan Award was won last year by Eagle J.C.Sherritt, and two years before that by his former Eagle teammate and current Edmonton Eskimos teammate, Greg Peach.
Both awards are sponsored by Fathead.com.
The Payton Award will celebrate its 25th anniversary this season and be presented at The Sports Network National Awards Banquet on Jan. 6 in Frisco, Texas, on the eve of the NCAA Division I Championship Game. Last season, Eastern won the title in Frisco with a come-from-behind 20-19 victory over Delaware. The Buchanan Award is in its 17th season and will also be presented at TSN’s national awards banquet on Jan. 6 in Frisco, Texas.
Both watch lists will undergo revision during the 2011 season. Ballots will be sent to a panel of about 200 sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries after the regular season on Nov. 21. Three finalists will be announced on Dec. 1 and invited to The Sports Network/Fathead FCS Awards Presentation.
The Sports Network also presents the Jerry Rice and Eddie Robinson awards which are sponsored by Fathead.com. The Robinson Award (FCS coach of the year) is also celebrating its 25th anniversary, while the Rice Award (FCS freshman of the year) is in its inaugural season.
Former Eagle Erik Meyer, who is now the starting quarterback for the Spokane Shock in the Arena Football League, won the Payton Award in 2005. Jesse Chatman (2001), Matt Nichols (2009) and Taiwan Jones (2010) all finished fourth in the voting for the prestigious award.
Mitchell and Kaufman hooked-up nine times for 120 yards and two touchdowns in the FCS Championship Game, including the game-winning TD with 2:47 left. Kaufman finished the 2010 season with 76 receptions for 1,214 yards and 15 scores, and all but one of his grabs (a non-scoring 11-yard completion) came from Mitchell.
Kaufman received All-America accolades on the College Sporting News “Sweet 63” All-America Team and on the Phil Steele Publications All-America fourth team, as well as earning first-team All-Big Sky Conference accolades. Kaufman, who had 23 receptions for 294 yards and a touchdown as a freshman in 2009, was selected as the NCAA Championship Subdivision Playoffs MVP by College Sporting News.
Both Kaufman and Mitchell received Big Sky All-Academic accolades in 2010, and Mitchell was an All-Big Sky Conference honorable-mention selection. He then had a triumphant return to his home state when he passed for 302 yards and three touchdowns to earn Most Outstanding Player in the FCS Championship Game.
Mitchell transferred to Eastern from Southern Methodist in spring 2010, and quickly won the starting job. He completed 59 percent of his passes to finish with 3,496 yards, a school-record 37 touchdown passes and 15 interceptions as a junior.
Mitchell was 13-2 as a starter in 2010, and six times Eastern rallied for victories when trailing or tied in the fourth quarter. And most of the time, it was Mitchell who led the Eagles back from the depths of despair. In addition, Eastern was 3-0 in games when All-America running back Taiwan Jones did not play, and Mitchell had 11 touchdowns and 932 total passing yards in those games, with 11 touchdown drives of at least 63 yards.
Johnson, a 6-foot-2, 220-pounder who graduated from Tumwater (Wash.) High School in 2007, entered the 2011 season with the most starting experience on EWU’s entire roster with 38 career starts. He entered his senior season with 289 tackles, 15 interceptions and 13 passes broken up in his career, including 105 tackles, five interceptions and eight passes broken up in 2010.
A year ago, Johnson was selected to the College Sporting News “Sweet 63” All-America Team, and was a second-team selection on the Phil Steele Publications All-America squad and a third-team pick on The Sports Network’s A-A team. He also earned first-team All-Big Sky Conference honors after starting all 15 Eastern games at safety.
Williams also earned All-America honors from College Sporting News in 2010 and is a two-time first team All-Big Sky Conference selection. He had 54 total tackles with 6 1/2 sacks and four forced fumbles, as a junior after finishing with 9 1/2 sacks as a sophomore.
Featuring his signature celebratory salute following a big play he makes for Eastern, Williams entered the 2011 season with 18 sacks in his career to rank 10th in school history. Constantly drawing double teams from opposing teams, he entered his senior campaign with 116 tackles in his 38-game career (29 as a starter), including 40 for losses totaling 204 yards.
Kaufman Gathers In Trio of Game-Winners in 2010
Brandon Kaufman proved to be Eastern’s go-to receiver as a sophomore in the 2010 season, catching a team-leading 76 passes to rank as the fifth-most in school history. His catches were good for 1,214 yards (fifth in EWU history) and 15 touchdowns (second behind the school-record of 19 set by Eric Kimble in 2004). His TD total was the second-most in the FCS as he caught a TD pass in 11 of 15 games in the 2010 season, including EWU’s last seven regular season games.
In his career, Kaufman has 128 receptions for 1,881 yards and 17 touchdowns, and is nearing Eastern’s top 10 all-time lists in all three categories.
He had caught a pass in 18-straight games before his streak was broken versus North Dakota State on Dec. 11, 2010, as the last time he failed to catch a pass was on Oct. 10, 2009, in the third game of his career. In addition, he had fourth-quarter game-winners against Northern Arizona, Southern Utah and Delaware, and had a game-tying catch with 3:08 left in EWU’s come-from-behind win over Northern Colorado.
Kaufman was selected as the FCS Playoffs MVP by College Sporting News, thanks in part to his nine catches for 120 yards and two touchdowns in a 20-19 win over Delaware in the championship game, in which EWU rallied from a 19-0 deficit. He had a 22-yard TD catch with 16:48 left in the game for EWU’s first score, then had a championship-clinching 11-yard scoring grab with 2:47 remaining. He caught eight passes for 135 yards against Villanova in the semifinals of the FCS Playoffs, including a 76-yard touchdown catch from Bo Levi Mitchell in the third quarter. Their 76-yard connection equaled the 30th-longest pass play in school history. He also had four receptions for 37 yards in the second-round triumph over Southeast Missouri State.
He finished his sophomore season ranked 25th in the FCS in receiving yards per game (80.9), was 45th in receptions per game (5.1) and his 15 touchdown catches were the second-most in the FCS. Kaufman had six 100-yard receiving performances in 2010, with those coming against Montana on Sept. 18 (five catches for 119 yards), Weber State on Oct. 2 (five catches for 138 yards), Northern Arizona on Oct. 9 (five catches for 117 yards), Southern Utah on Nov. 13 (nine catches for 129 yards), Villanova on Dec. 17 (eight catches for 135 yards) and Delaware on Jan. 7 (nine catches for 120 yards)
Against Southern Utah on Nov. 13, he caught a career-high nine passes for 129 yards with a long of 43, and had touchdown catches of 25 and 24 yards that were of the “how did he make that catch?” variety. His latter TD catch came with 3:39 left and provided the winning points in Eastern’s 31-24 victory. In the next game against Idaho State, he scored EWU’s first two touchdowns in the 34-7 victory with TD catches of 10 and 30 yards.
Among his three catches at Portland State on Oct. 30 was a 15-yard touchdown grab. He had just four catches for 34 yards against Sacramento State on Oct. 23, but he had a 17-yard touchdown to start the scoring and a game-winning 6-yard scoring grab with 33 seconds to go in the game. One game prior, he had a five-catch, 94-yard performance against Northern Colorado, which included a 4-yard touchdown pass with 3:08 left that knotted the score at 28. He is a 2009 graduate of Heritage High School in the Denver, Colo., area, just a short distance from the game played in Greeley. His family was at the game in force, reportedly purchasing 80 tickets for the game.
Having Started Every Game in Their Careers, Twins Produced Big Numbers During 2010 Winning Streak
Safety Matt Johnson and his twin brother Zach Johnson, a starting linebacker, had big performances in the last 11 games of the 2010 season. In those 11 contests -- all victories -- they combined for 189 tackles, five interceptions and 11 passes broken up. In the NCAA Division I Championship game, Zach Johnson had 15 tackles with a pair of sacks, and Matt Johnson added nine tackles and a pass broken up.
They have started every game they have played in their careers, with Matt up to 42 and Zach now with 30. Matt now ranks second in school history in interceptions with 17, and he is just one interception away from the school record of 18 set by Mike Richter from 1971-75. He is currently tied with former NFL 10-year veteran Kurt Schulz (EWU letter winner 1988-91) and long-time Canadian Football League standout Jackie Kellogg (1990-93), who both have 17 each. Johnson is also only nine interception return yards from the record of 219 held by Schulz, and his six career forced fumbles is tied for the school record along with J.C. Sherritt (2007-10) and Chris Scott (1994-97).
Matt has 318 tackles in his career to move into sixth all-time at Eastern, and had five interceptions in 2010 to help Eastern lead the FCS with 26. He had 105 tackles (19th in school history), eight passes broken up, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery in the 2010 season.
Zach Johnson finished second on the team with 134 tackles (sixth in school history), and also had 3 1/2 sacks, five passes broken up, two fumble recoveries and a forced fumble. Zach currently has 260 career tackles to rank 10th all-time at Eastern, and his average of 8.7 tackles per game is slightly better than the 7.6 average for his brother.
The Johnson twins are both 2007 graduates of Tumwater, Wash., High School, but a blood clot in Zach’s leg sidelined him for the entire 2009 season.
As freshmen in 2008, the brothers combined for 179 tackles to rank 1-2 on the team, with Zach finishing with 96 and a team-high seven passes broken up, and Matt closing the year with 83 tackles and a team-leading four interceptions. Both players earned honorable mention All-Big Sky accolades in 2008, and Matt repeated on that squad in 2009. Matt earned his first Big Sky Conference Defensive Player of the Week honor after tying the Big Sky Conference record with four interceptions in 47-10 win over Portland State on Oct. 31, 2009, in the “Showdown on the Sound” at Qwest Field in Seattle, Wash.
Mitchell Has Triumphant Return to Texas
Transfer Bo Levi Mitchell had a triumphant return to his home state, passing for 302 yards and three touchdowns to earn Most Outstanding Player accolades in leading Eastern to a come-from-behind 20-19 victory over Delaware in the NCAA Division I Championship Game on Jan. 7, 2011, in Frisco, Texas. Mitchell is from Katy, Texas, and transferred from Southern Methodist University following the 2009 season. SMU is located in Dallas, about 25 minutes from Frisco, while his hometown of Katy is about five hours away. He completed 29-of-43 passes and directed EWU on scoring drives of 80 (5 plays), 89 (14 plays) and 63 yards (8 plays).
His three touchdowns against Delaware gave him 37 for the season and helped him break the single-season school record of 34 set by Matt Nichols in 2007. Mitchell also broke school records for attempts (505) and completions (300).For the season, Mitchell completed 59.4 percent of his passes for 3,496 yards (fifth in school history), a school-record 37 touchdowns, 15 interceptions and a passing efficiency rating of 135.8. In NCAA Football Championship Subdivision statistics, he finished ranked 20th in passing offense (233.1 yards per game), 26th in total offense (236.2) and 26th in efficiency (135.8).
Despite playing just two seasons at Eastern, Mitchell already ranks eighth in school history for career passing yards (4,838), and is also sixth in touchdown passes (44), fifth in completions (421), sixth in attempts (712) and seventh in passing efficiency rating (130.4).
Eastern was 3-0 in the 2010 season when it was forced to play without All-America running back Taiwan Jones, and Mitchell was impressive in all three games. He completed a combined 68 percent of his passes (79-of-117) in those three games for a passing efficiency rating of 162.0. Most importantly, in those games he led Eastern on 11 touchdown drives of at least 63 yards.
Besides the Delaware game when EWU had to play without Jones, one game earlier Mitchell completed 27-of-38 passes for 292 yards, no interceptions and four touchdowns in a semifinal win over Villanova on Dec. 17. He directed Eastern on touchdown drives of 63 yards (5 plays), 43 yards (8 plays), 80 (2 plays) and 63 yards (12 plays).
Earlier in the season without Jones, Eastern scored 21-straight second-half points after falling behind 17-14 to surge past Weber State 35-24 in a crucial Big Sky Conference football game. Mitchell passed for a career-high 337 yards and four touchdowns and the defense had three interceptions that led to scores. He led Eastern on touchdown drives of 66 yards (9 plays), 65 yards (13 plays), 80 yards (6 plays), 68 yards (9 plays) and 67 yards (4 plays). Mitchell was 23-of-36 as he helped the team to leads after all four quarters. His final three scoring drives came during a 21-0 scoring run in the second half that turned a 17-14 deficit into a 35-17 advantage. He completed 14-of-19 passes in the first half and 9-of-17 in the second half.
Mitchell had just 38 yards through 37 1/2 minutes of EWU’s playoff victory over North Dakota State on Dec. 11. But he was 5-of-13 for 78 yards during a 13-play, 90-yard drive to knot the game with 23 seconds to play on a 4-yard touchdown pass to Nicholas Edwards. He converted two plays on fourth down on the drive and also had a 40-yard pass to Edwards. Mitchell, who was 13-of-32 for 141 yards, two interceptions and three touchdowns in the game, provided the game-winning points with a 25-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Hart on the first play of overtime,
Williams Up to 19 Career Sacks
Eastern defensive tackle Renard Williams had his first sack of the year against Montana State on Sept. 24, giving him 19 in his career to rank eighth in school history. Constantly drawing double teams from opposing teams, Williams has 125 tackles in his 42-game career, including 42 for losses totaling 208 yards.
Williams finished with 6 1/2 in the 2010 season to repeat as an All-Big Sky selection and earn All-America honors in the process, as he was selected to the College Sports News “Sweet 63” All-America Team. He had a two-sack effort against North Dakota State on Dec. 11 for the fourth multi-sack performance of his career. He had nine sacks to earn first-team All-Big Sky Conference honors in 2009.
Mike Jarrett Nearing Extra Point Records
Senior kicker Mike Jarrett is nearing school records for extra points made and attempted, as he ranks second in school history in both categories. He is 115-of-121 in his career, ranking only behind the 120-of-126 performance by Troy Griggs from 1999-01. Jarrett has scored 175 points to rank 10th all-time at EWU (fifth among kickers), including 20 field goals (sixth) and 35 field goals attempted (sixth).
His brother, Bryan, was an All-Big Sky Conference safety for the Eagles in 2005 and 2007 after transferring from Western Washington University.
A Year Later, Wager Continues Between Minnerly and Hamlin
A friendly wager between teammates is now in year two, but with one less competitor. Safety Jeff Minnerly, linebacker Ronnie Hamlin and linebacker Zach Johnson challenged each other to see who could go the longest without cutting their hair.
After the season ended, Zach cut his hair -- a short-cropped haircut like his twin brother Matt Johnson -- and dropped out of the competition, leaving Minnerly and Hamlin to determine a winner. A year later, neither seems ready to give in, and both have grown hair to their shoulders. Minnerly has also sported a “Grizzly Adams” full beard at times in the last year, although facial hair was not included in the wager.
Initially, the wager helped make it easier for people to tell the identical twins apart in the 2010 season. While Zach grew his hair out during the 2010 season, Matt continued to sport a short-cropped haircut as both players had for their entire careers to that point. Even their jersey numbers can be confusing, having changed their numbers in 2009 after wearing entirely different numbers as freshmen in 2008. Then, in the middle of the 2009 season, Matt moved from No. 5 to No. 10 as a tribute to his brother, who was lost for the season with a blood clot in his leg. They returned to their normal numbers in the 2010 and 2011 seasons, with Matt wearing No. 5 and Zach utilizing No. 10.
Gibbs First to Letter in Both Football and Basketball Since Bob Picard in 1973
After lettering in basketball for Eastern Washington in the 2009-10 season, Alden Gibbs switched to football and lettered on special teams for the Eagles in 2010. Now a starting cornerback, Gibbs is the first Eagle to letter in both sports since Bob Picard in the early 1970’s.
Picard lettered in football in 1968, 1969, 1971 and 1972, and also lettered in basketball in the 1972-73 season. Picard held Eastern’s career receiving record for 21 years with 166 catches (now sixth) that were good for 2,373 yards and 19 touchdowns. His receiving record was broken by Tony Brooks in 1993. Picard had his No. 84 jersey retired, was inducted into the Eastern Athletics Hall of Fame in 2003 and was selected to the "100 for 100" All-Time Football Team in 2008 to help commemorate the 100th year of football at Eastern. In 27 career basketball games, Picard averaged 3.0 points, 3.4 rebounds and 1.6 assists. He went on to play three seasons (54 career games) in the National Football League for the Philadelphia Eagles, and ended his career at the first training camp of the expansion Seattle Seahawks in 1976.
Several other Eagles have played both football and basketball since Picard, but none have lettered in both. Wide receiver Jerrold Jackson lettered in football from 1993-96, and played one minute for the hoop squad in the 1995-96 season. All-America quarterback Harry Leons lettered in football for three seasons from 1995-97, and was also on the basketball roster for a short time but did not play. Henry Bekkering lettered in basketball for Eastern in the 2004-05 and 2005-06 seasons, and was also on the football roster in 2003. He played in four football games that season as a non-lettering squad member, and averaged 56.5 yards on 27 kickoffs, while routinely kicking the ball into the end zone.
Ena Enters Second Full Season at End After 2009 Move to Linebacker
One of Eastern’s most versatile players, sophomore defensive end Paul Ena made big plays early and often in EWU’s 50-17 victory over Portland State on Oct. 30, 2010.
On PSU’s first possession of the game, he had two quarterback hurries, then recovered a fumble on the ensuing third down play on one of six three-and-outs (plus a four-down turnover on downs) for the Eagles. Three of those three-and-outs came on PSU’s opening three possessions as Eastern jumped out to a 14-0 lead, and at one point had a 183-5 advantage in total offense. Later in the half, he had a 13-yard tackle for loss that led to a punt and a 65-yard scoring run by Taiwan Jones that gave EWU a 28-3 advantage. Ena also combined with J.C. Sherritt for another tackle for loss on that possession, and finished with four tackles in the game, including 2 1/2 for loss.
After starting the season at linebacker, he began his second tour of duty at defensive end for the Eagles, and he started at that position against Weber State on Oct. 2. For the season, Ena had 55 tackles with 8 1/2 for loss including 2 1/2 sacks. He also had five quarterback hurries, an interception and four fumble recoveries. Two of his fumble recoveries came against Villanova on Dec. 17 in the semifinals of the FCS Playoffs.
As a true freshman in 2009, Ena played as a backup defensive end, then started at middle linebacker in the regular season finale against Northern Arizona (11/21/09) and finished with a team-high 16 tackles. He started again in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision Playoffs against Stephen F. Austin (11/28/09) and had 20 tackles to rank as the sixth-most in recorded school history. He finished the season fifth on the team with a total of 63 tackles.
He was Eastern’s fourth player to be on EWU’s depth chart as a starter at middle linebacker in 2009. Returning starter Zach Johnson did not play because of a blood clot that developed following knee surgery during the summer, then Kyle Wilkins suffered a season-ending knee injury in practice before Eastern’s seventh game. Tyler Washburn started four games until he also suffered a knee injury.
Ena was a linebacker at Inglemoor High School in Seattle, finishing his senior season in fall 2008 with 162 total tackles (65 solo, 97 assisted) and two sacks. His father Tali Ena was a standout running back at Washington State University and went on to play for the Seattle Seahawks.
Jerry Ceja Makes Dreams Come True for Defensive Tackles
Thanks to huge plays made by sophomore defensive end Jerry Ceja, Eastern defensive tackles have some great memories. And those plays helped the Eagles win two games during its trek to the national title.
A sophomore from Aurora, Colo., Ceja made the first start of his career at Northern Colorado on Oct. 16 and he had the team’s defensive play of the game. He forced a fumble on a sack late in the game that was picked up by teammate Tyler Jolley and returned 17 yards. That gave EWU the ball 39 yards from the end zone and led to EWU’s winning touchdown with 41 seconds to play in the 35-28 victory.
Earlier in the season, Ceja forced a fumble on a sack on the final play of the game that was returned 34 yards for a score by Renard Williams and secured EWU’s 36-27 victory over the Grizzlies.
For the season, Ceja had 23 tackles with five sacks, three forced fumbles and three quarterback hurries. Two of his sacks and a hurry came in the semifinals of the FCS Playoffs against Villanova. He is a 2009 graduate of Grandview High School in Aurora, just a short distance from the Oct. 16 game played in Greeley, Colo. His older brother, Dominique Ceja, is an offensive lineman for Northern Colorado,
Eastern junior running back Darriell Beaumonte was once a blocking fullback in Eastern’s offense. But the first-team All-Big Sky Conference special teams selection did a different kind of blocking in the 2010 season.
After leading 28-10 at intermission against Portland State on Oct. 30, the Eagles turned a blocked punt by Beaumonte into a recovery for a touchdown by T.J. Lee to increase the advantage to 18. Beaumonte, a 2007 graduate of Clover Park High School in Tacoma, Wash., also had a huge special teams play in EWU’s 36-27 victory over Montana on Sept. 18. He blocked a punt that he returned himself six yards for a score to wipe out Montana’s last lead of the day. It was EWU’s first blocked punt returned for a TD since 2004.
Also a kickoff and punt coverage special teams standout, Beaumonte has been credited with 26 tackles in his career. He had three in 2008, eight in 2009 and 15 in 2010, as he earned first-team All-Big Sky Conference honors and was selected as the team’s Special Teams Player of the Year.
He was a fullback in 2008 as a redshirt freshman, then proved to be more valuable with the ball in his hands and moved to running back the following season. As EWU’s backup running back behind All-American Taiwan Jones, he rushed for 135 yards and a touchdown in 2009 and had 219 yards and a pair of rushing TDs in 2010. When Jones was sidelined because of an injury on Oct. 2 versus Weber State, he responded with a 78-yard rushing performance, scoring once on a rush and another on a TD reception in EWU’s 35-24 win.
In his career, Beaumonte has rushed for 379 yards and three touchdowns, and has caught 16 passes for 132 yards and one more score. So far in the 2011 season, he has five tackles on special teams.
Notes On Other Eagles
Head Coach Beau Baldwin: Baldwin is in his fourth season as Eastern Washington's head coach. After guiding the Eagles to a 6-5 record in 2008, he led EWU to the FCS Playoffs with an 8-4 record in 2009 and a 13-2 mark in the 2010 season that included a co-championship with Montana State in the Big Sky. Baldwin served as the head coach at Central Washington in 2007, leading the Wildcats to a 10-3 record and the NCAA Division II quarterfinals. He also was the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for EWU from 2003-06. In a short amount of time, Baldwin has taken a perennial playoff participant and honed it into a national champion. Ironically, many observers didn't even have EWU ranked as a top 25 team before the 2010 season began, but the Eagles finished both the regular season and playoffs ranked No. 1.
Center Chris Powers: Powers has started 31 career games -- the most among all Eastern players on offense. He represents the 17th time an EWU offensive lineman has earned All-America accolades in the last 18 years (1993-2010), with Eastern offensive linemen winning 19 first-team All-Big Sky honors in that same time period. Eastern finished the 2010 season ranked 22nd in the FCS in total offense (397.1 yards per game), as well as rankings of 26th in passing (241.0), 49th in rushing (156.1) and 18th in scoring (31.5).
Safety Jeff Minnerly: The junior free safety, a 2008 graduate of Ferris High School in Spokane, Wash., was awarded the “Elite 88” Award by the National Collegiate Athletic Association. He received the award for having the highest cumulative grade point average among the participants in the 2010 NCAA Division I Football Championship Game at Pizza Hut Park in Frisco, Texas. Eastern won that game 20-19, as Minnerly finished with two passes broken up and two tackles. Minnerly was a 4.0 student at Ferris where he excelled in football and basketball, and is currently a finance major at EWU with a 3.83 grade point average. Earlier in the 2010 season, Minnerly was honored as an honorable mention All-Big Sky Conference selection and was also chosen for the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District VIII squad as selected by members of the College Sports Information Directors Association (CoSIDA). He was selected to the Big Sky Conference All-Academic team for the second time in 2010 and was selected as EWU’s Scholar-Athlete for the month of December. He had 48 tackles, three interceptions and four passes broken up for the year.
Kicker Kevin Miller: The Eagles are redshirting the strong-legged Miller, who finished 2-of-3 kicking field goals for the Eagles in the 2010 season and also handled kickoffs for EWU. He booted a 48-yarder in the third quarter of EWU’s 34-7 win over Idaho State on Nov. 20 to equal the 23rd-longest in school history. He also made a 44-yarder at Portland State on Oct. 30 and had a 44-yarder blocked against North Dakota State on Dec. 11. A 2009 graduate of Centennial High School in Portland, Ore., he also averaged 58.7 yards on six kickoffs against ISU and its prolific kickoff returner Tavoy Moore, who had five returns for 93 yards with a long of 38. ISU started possessions inside its own 20 four times, with an average field position of its own 24-yard line. He finished the 2010 season averaging 64.2 yards on 81 kickoffs with 15 touchbacks. As a true freshman in 2009, he averaged 63.0 yard per kick with 14 touchbacks on 47 kickoffs.
The Wildcats and Eagles are playing for the 30th time after last season’s Eagle win broke a 14-all tie in the all-time series. The longest winning streak for either team has been four, by the Eagles from 1999-2002. Eastern is 8-8 in Ogden, including victories five of the last six times the Eagles and Wildcats have met there. In 2008, Eastern ended the season with a 33-26 victory over the playoff-bound Wildcats, keeping them from being the first team other than Montana to win the outright Big Sky title since EWU did it in 1997. It enabled Montana to share the league title -- it’s 11th-straight in a streak that ended at 12 when MSU and EWU shared the 2010 championship. Eastern is 5-5 against Weber State in Cheney, but has dropped two of the last three meetings there (31-13 in 2009 and 28-23 in 2005). Eastern is also 2-1 versus WSU in games played at Albi Stadium in Spokane.
Last Year in Ogden . . . No. 16 Eastern Surge Past Wildcats 35-24
Despite not playing with its biggest playmaker and yardage machine, Eastern Washington University found plenty of big plays and plenty of offense at Weber State Oct. 2, 2010, at Stewart Stadium in Ogden, Utah.
Eastern scored 21-straight second-half points after falling behind to surge past the Wildcats 35-24 in a crucial Big Sky Conference football game. Junior quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell passed for 337 yards and four touchdowns and the defense had three interceptions that led to scores.
“It felt really good -- I was proud of the way we responded,” said Eastern head coach Beau Baldwin, whose team lost 30-7 a week earlier at Montana State. “And not just today, but how we responded with great practices. We came out with a focus.”
“They made a little run and got the lead in the third quarter, but our guys kept fighting back,” he added. “There were a couple of different times where I was really proud of that fight.”
Eastern finished with 465 yards of offense, and Weber State finished with 459 after having just 150 in the first half. But most importantly for the Eagles, Eastern had leads after all four quarters -- including an 11-point winning margin.
Mitchell was 23-of-36 as he finished with his first 300-yard passing game for the Eagles. He completed 14-of-19 passes in the first half and 9-of-17 in the second half.
“He took each play one at a time and kept taking what they would give him,” said Baldwin. “He took underneath routes when they were there and led us to first downs. And when it was time to go over the top he put it in spots where our guys could catch it. I thought from the get-go all the way back to the spring that he has those tools. It takes time in a new system and time getting used to things. I’m really proud of him because what he did in practice carried over into the game. He did a great job.”
Senior Ashton Gant had career highs with four catches for 86 yards and scored two touchdowns on passes from Mitchell. His previous highs were four catches for 67 yards in last year’s regular-season ending victory at Northern Arizona. Brandon Kaufman added five grabs for 138 yards.
Eastern junior running back Taiwan Jones did not play because of a pelvic contusion. He had averaged 238.8 all-purpose yards in EWU’s first four games, including an average of 129.5 yards rushing per game.
His backup, Darriell Beaumonte, rushed for 78 yards and a touchdown, and true freshman Mario Brown added 36 yards on the ground. Both also scored touchdowns on passes from Mitchell.
The Eagles had 128 rushing yards, but despite losing that battle to the 144 Weber State had, Baldwin was pleased his team won the turnover battle.
“We talked about two goals in this game -- to try and win the rushing game and winning the turnover battle,” he explained. “I told them if we could do that and take each play one at a time, we could win this game. The players executed that really well.”
Defensively, J.C. Sherritt had an interception and 11 tackles to go over the 300-tackle mark in his career. He now has 306 tackles to rank sixth in school history, and four career interceptions to go along with 10 passes broken up. Matt Johnson had the 13th interception of his career that led to a first-quarter scoring drive for the Eagles.
“We had our hands full defensively, but our players did a good job,” Baldwin said. “We slowed them down early so we were able to get a lead and keep a lead going into halftime. Then they made some key picks down there in the red zone that were huge. You win that turnover battle you almost always win.”
Eastern scored on its first possession, putting together a nine-play, 66-yard drive that was capped by a 12-yard touchdown strike from Mitchell to Gant. That early score enabled Eastern to hold a 7-3 lead after the first quarter -- its first lead in five games this season after the first period. Eastern had been out-scored 57-21 in the first quarter entering the game versus the Wildcats, who still have not scored a first-quarter touchdown the entire season.
Eastern used a 13-play, 65-yard drive to score with five seconds left in the first half, with Brown scoring his first career touchdown on a 5-yard pass from Mitchell. Eastern ended the half with a 220-150 advantage in total offense
The Eagles put together a 68-yard drive early in the second quarter, but it ended when Mitchell threw an interception in the end zone on a second down play with Eastern at the Wildcat 12-yard line.
The Wildcats, behind the arm of one of the league’s top quarterbacks in 2008 Big Sky Offensive MVP Cameron Higgins, got back in the game in the second half. Weber State scored on its first possession of the third quarter, then scored on its next offensive play on a 65-yard flea-flicker play to take a 17-14 advantage.
Barely two minutes later, the Eagles regained the lead on a 37-yard TD pass from Mitchell to Gant to cap a six-play, 80-yard drive. Gant also had a 23-yard reception on the drive.
On Weber State’s next possession, Eastern’s Tyler Washburn intercepted a deflected pass at EWU’s goal line, returning it 32 yards and squelching a 73-yard Wildcat drive. That led to a 68-yard EWU scoring drive, capped by a 16-yard TD pass from Mitchell to Beaumonte.
History repeated itself on the next possession, but this time it was Sherritt how had the interception at the goal line and returned it 33 yards. A 67-yard drive ended with Beaumonte’s 7-yard touchdown run and a 35-17 Eastern lead with 9:43 to play.
Last Time in Cheney . . . Weber State Knocks off Eagles 31-13
Weber State scored three times in the last 1:32 of the first half and went on to defeat Eastern Washington 31-13 in a Big Sky Conference football showdown Oct. 10, 2009, at Woodward Field in Cheney, Wash.
The 14th-ranked Eagles were held to 170 yards of total offense in the first three quarters as they fell behind 25-7. But behind the arm of record-breaking quarterback Matt Nichols, the Eagles came to life in the final quarter to finish with 389 yards of offense. Nichols passed for 354, and in the process broke the school record for career passing yards held by the quarterback he replaced, Erik Meyer.
But Nichols was intercepted three times and EWU lost a pair of fourth-quarter fumbles inside the Weber 3-yard line. The Eagles also had seven penalties for 68 yards, while Weber State had just one turnover and finished with 419 total yards.
Eastern linebacker J.C. Sherritt had a 36-yard interception return for a touchdown, and finished with a school-record 24 tackles. He broke the previous record of 23 set by Greg Belzer against Portland State on Sept. 12, 1998.
“At times were we were doing well against a great offense,” said Eastern head coach Beau Baldwin. “And in the second half there was no question in my mind we could move the football. We just had to avoid the mistakes -- the penalties and turnovers -- that ended up stalling out drives.”
Despite the solid numbers, Eastern didn’t score an offensive touchdown until the fourth quarter. The Eagles were just 5-of-12 on third down, and 0-of-2 on fourth down.
The turning point in the game came late in the second quarter when Weber State kicked a field goal, registered a safety when an Eastern snap on a punt went into the end zone and then scored on a 53-yard drive. In all, Weber State scored 12 points in a span of exactly one minute to take a 22-7 halftime lead.