Sixth Big Sky Title on the Line at Portland State

Within minutes last Saturday night, No. 5 Eagles find out season finale will not only have playoff ramifications, but will be for the Big Sky title as well

Complete Weekly Release in .pdf format

Eastern Washington Univ. “Eagles”
Portland State University "Vikings"

Saturday, Nov. 17, 2012 • 1:05 p.m. Pacific
Jeld-Wen Field (18,627) • Portland, Ore.

EWU Coach: Beau Baldwin (Central Washington ‘96)
School Record: 40-18/28-10 Big Sky Conference (5th Season)
Career Record: 50-21 (6th Season -- was 10-3 at CWU in 2007, 6-5 at EWU in 2008, 8-4 at EWU in 2009, 13-2 in 2010, 6-5 in 2011)
2012: 8-2/6-1 Big Sky Conference
2011: 6-5/5-3 Big Sky Conference
Last Game: Eastern 31, UC Davis 28 (Nov. 10 in Cheney, Wash)
TV: Televised regionally by Comcast Sports Net Northwest.
Radio: 700-AM ESPN in Spokane. Larry Weir returns for his 22nd season calling the play-by-play, with analysis handled by Paul Sorensen and sideline commentary by Keith Osso. Osso will also serve as host of the Eagle Tailgate Show, starting 1 1/2 hours prior to kickoff.
Internet Radio: or
Radio iPhone App: Search for “Spokane Radio” and download app. An app is also available for tunein radio.
Live Stats:
Weekly Coaches Show: Mondays 6 p.m. at the Q Sports Bar and Restaurant at Northern Quest Resort & Casino. . . 700-AM ESPN, & via iphone app. (search for “Spokane Radio” and download app).
Watch Parties: All road games will be available to watch at the Q Sports Bar and Restaurant at Northern Quest Resort & Casino in Airway Heights, the Swinging Doors in North Spokane and the Eagles Pub in Cheney.

Throw out the quest for a sixth Big Sky title, national rankings and playoff talk. This game alone will be its own kind of postseason challenge for the fifth-ranked Eastern Washington University football team.

Thanks to a fortuitous change of events within minutes of each other last Saturday, the Eagles will be playing for the Big Sky Conference title this Saturday (Nov. 17) when the Eagles end the Big Sky Conference regular season at Portland State. Kickoff is 1:05 p.m. Pacific time at Jeld-Wen Field in Portland, Ore., as the Eagles play a PSU team which handed the Eagles a 43-26 beating a year ago.

The radio broadcast of this week’s game, featuring Larry Weir, Paul Sorensen and Keith Osso, starts 1 1/2 hours prior to kickoff with the Eagle Tailgate Show. It may be heard on 700-AM ESPN, via the web at and via iPhone application (search for “700 ESPN” and download the free app). The broadcast is also available via and tunein’s mobile phone app. The game will also be televised by Comcast Sports Net Northwest.

Moments after Big Sky leader Northern Arizona fell in triple overtime to Southern Utah 35-29, Eastern survived for a 31-28 Senior Day victory over UC Davis last Saturday (Nov. 10). The Eagles needed a fourth-quarter TD run by Vernon Adams and a blocked field goal by David Gaylord to preserve the victory after rallying from 11 points down.

With four teams tied at 6-1 atop the league standings, a victory at PSU will give Eastern a share of the Big Sky title, joining the 1992, 1997, 2004, 2005 and 2010 Eagle teams as league champs. It also has ramifications for the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision Playoffs the Eagles expect to be chosen for, including a possible first-round bye and more home games at “The Inferno.”

“It’s as big as it gets,” said Baldwin after his team’s win over the upset-minded Aggies. “I told our team this was the biggest game of the year right here we played, but now the next one against Portland State is bigger. When you play late in November and you have a chance for postseason play, every game you play is huge for a number of reasons. This game has other factors like the Big Sky title and playoff seeding.”

The Vikings are just 3-7 overall and 2-5 in the Big Sky, but much like last week, the win-loss record for Portland State is deceiving. Picked to finish fourth in the Big Sky by both the coaches and media, the Vikings have lost three league games by eight points or less, and two others by 14 and 12 versus nationally-ranked teams. In all, Eastern is the fourth nationally-ranked team they have faced – and second-straight after last week’s 65-30 loss at second-ranked Montana State.

In last year’s EWU loss on Senior Day at Roos Field, the Vikings used their pistol offense to score on four-straight possessions in the second quarter and three-straight possessions in the third. Portland State scored 21 unanswered points to turn a 20-15 EWU lead into a 36-20 advantage in the third quarter. The Vikings finished with 338 yards rushing and 499 total yards, and held the Eagles to minus-1 yard rushing thanks to five sacks.

“Our guys are always playing to win, but when you come on the field there should be a passion and competitiveness no matter what the situation,” said Baldwin. “Portland State is going to have the same attitude and mentality too, I guarantee you. It’s going to be another tough challenge for us on the road.”

Similar to last year’s loss to PSU, last Saturday the Eagles were out-scored 22-0 in the second quarter and found themselves in yet another hole to pull themselves out of. The win was Eastern’s 11th in the last three seasons when it has trailed or been tied in the fourth quarter.

Of Eastern’s six Big Sky wins this season, five have come by a combined margin of 21 points – two six-point wins and a trio by just three points. On the other side of the coin, the Eagles are only seven points from an unbeaten season, having last-possession chances in both of its losses to pull out a miracle win.

Now 8-2 overall, the Eagles are in position to garner one of 20 spots in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision Playoffs. The pairings are announced on Nov. 18 at 10:30 a.m. Pacific time on ESPNU and begin six days later.

Eastern is again ranked fifth in The Sports Network NCAA Football Championship Subdivision Top 25 poll, with fellow Big Sky co-leaders MSU (2nd, NAU (15th) and Cal Poly (17th) also ranking in the top 25. After losing 30-27 to Southern Utah on Oct. 27, Eastern fell from first to seventh. Previously, a 27-24 victory over then second-ranked Montana State on Oct. 13 catapulted the Eagles from sixth to the top spot for two weeks. It’s the third-straight year Eastern has been ranked No. 1 at one point in the season.


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Quick Hits

* With Eastern, Montana State, Northern Arizona and Cal Poly all 6-1 in the league, as many as three teams can win at least a share of the league title when the dust settles this week. Besides Eastern’s game at PSU, MSU is at Montana in a game that starts at 12:40 p.m. Pacific time, and Cal Poly plays at NAU later that afternoon at 3:05 p.m. Pacific time. Because NAU and Cal Poly play each other this week, at least one of those teams will be either the Big Sky co-champion or the outright champ.

* Whichever teams might possibly share the league title, tiebreakers are only used to determine the automatic berth in the NCAA Football Championship Playoffs, which begin on Nov. 24. In the event of a three-way tie between MSU, NAU and Cal Poly, the Eagles receive the automatic berth (MSU and EWU both defeated Sacramento State, and Cal Poly lost to Sac State, thus eliminating Cal Poly from the tie. EWU wins the automatic berth because of its head-to-head win over MSU). If EWU, MSU and NAU tie, the berth goes to MSU (MSU was the only team of the three to beat Southern Utah). If EWU and Cal Poly end up tied for the title, EWU’s non-conference win over the Mustangs will give the Eagles the automatic berth. The tiebreaker between EWU and NAU would need to be broken by the Sagarin ratings, since the Eagles and Lumberjacks both lost to Southern Utah and EWU and NAU both will have defeated UM, PSU, North Dakota, UC Davis and Cal Poly. In this week’s Sagarin ratings, EWU is sixth and NAU is 13th, and it’s doubtful the Lumberjacks would leap ahead of the Eagles.

* Eastern will be seeking its ninth berth in the FCS Playoffs, and first since winning the NCAA Division I title in 2010. The other appearances for the Eagles came in 1985, 1992, 1997, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2009 and 2010. With a 6-5 record in 2011, Eastern fell a victory shy of its sixth playoff berth since 2004. Although the Eagles came up short, EWU is one of just seven schools among the 121 in FCS to have advanced to the playoffs five times in the last eight seasons (2004, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2010).

* In the FCS Playoffs, the first round of teams seeded 13-20 play on Nov. 24, with 12 teams receiving byes. Eight games in the round of 16 are played on Dec. 1. The quarterfinals are Dec. 7-8, the semifinals are Dec. 14-15 and the championship game is Jan. 5 in Frisco, Texas. The top five teams are seeded 1-5, and are guaranteed home games as long as they are the higher-seeded team in their match-up and have met NCAA guidelines to host. In 2010, Eastern was the No. 5 seed, and because of higher-seeded teams losing in the early rounds, hosted three games at Roos Field.

* In a projected bracket by The Sports Network ( the Eagles have been picked as a No. 3 seed and will host a second-round game against the winner of Stony Brook at Eastern Illinois. If Eastern were to win that game, they would host the winner of the Northern Arizona at South Dakota State game. Montana State, a No. 2 seed, is also on Eastern’s side of the bracket. The other seeds in the projections are No. 1 North Dakota State, No. 4 Sam Houston State and No. 5 Georgia Southern.

* Eastern remains fifth in this week’s Sports Network NCAA Football Championship Subdivision Top 25 Poll as selected by a national panel of sportswriters, broadcasters and sports information directors. The Eagles were also fifth last week, and were No. 7 and No. 1 before that. In the coaches poll this week, the Eagles are up one spot to fifth, after ranking No. 6, No. 8 and No. 1 the previous three weeks. Other Big Sky Conference schools in this week’s top 25 include Montana State (2nd TSN, 2nd coaches), Northern Arizona (15th TSN, 15th coaches) and Cal Poly (17th TSN, 18th coaches). Eastern’s 27-24 victory over Montana State on Oct. 13, as well as losses by the top three ranked teams, catapulted EWU to the top of the rankings for two weeks.  A 30-27 loss by the Eagles at Southern Utah dropped EWU to No. 7 and allowed defending champion North Dakota State to take over the top spot the Eagles held for two weeks. This is the third-straight season EWU has been ranked No. 1. Eastern ended the 2010 regular season with its first No. 1 ranking in school history, and remained in that position after winning the NCAA Division I Championship. The Eagles were also ranked first in the 2011 preseason poll, as well as after the Eagles narrowly lost its opener last season at Washington, 30-27.  The Eagles were also No. 1 for two weeks in rankings released by College Sports Journal and College Sports Madness.

* In this week’s Jeff Sagarin ratings, Eastern is sixth overall in FCS (88th overall). North Dakota State is first among FCS schools, followed by Sam Houston State, Indiana State, Montana State (85th overall), Northern Iowa and Eastern. Other highly-ranked Big Sky schools include Cal Poly (9/93), Northern Arizona (13/103), Southern Utah (30/139), Montana (32/141), North Dakota (38/151) and Portland State (40/154). The Eagles were a season-high second nationally among FCS schools at one point this season.

* In November and beyond, Eastern is 10-0 since 2010 and 19-3 since 2007. Since 2010, EWU is 22-2 after Oct. 1, including an 11-0 mark two years ago, 6-1 last year and 5-1 this season. The lone losses were a 43-26 home loss in 2011 versus Portland State and a 30-27 road setback at Southern Utah on Oct. 27, 2012.

* Besides sending the seniors out with a victory, Eastern finished the regular season 5-0 at home. Since the red Sprinturf surface was installed in 2010, Eastern is now 15-2 at “The Inferno,” with one of the losses a 43-26 setback to PSU on Senior Day last season. Eastern’s Nov. 3 game versus 16th-ranked Cal Poly was sold out, with an announced attendance of 8,644 – the seventh-largest non-Montana crowd in Roos Field history.

* Senior linebacker Zach Johnson had double figures in tackles for the 13th time in his career when he finished with a team-leading 10 in EWU’s 31-28 victory over UC Davis on Nov. 10. He has now started every game he has played in his Eastern career – 35 – and has 291 career tackles to rank eighth in school history. He has played sparingly this season with a hamstring injury, but returned against Cal Poly on Nov. 3 from a five-game absence to finish with seven tackles, a pass broken up and a key third down tackle in the third quarter with the Mustangs at the EWU 1-yard line. Johnson, a sixth-year senior who has missed 24 total games in his career because of injuries, now has 291 tackles, three interceptions, 13 passes broken up and 6 1/2 sacks as an Eagle. He is just 22 tackles from moving into seventh all-time at Eastern, and is 50 away from the total of 341 by his twin brother Matt Johnson, who now plays for the Dallas Cowboys.

* Eastern redshirt freshman quarterback Vernon Adams is on the watch list for the Jerry Rice Award given annually by The Sports Network to the top freshman in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision. He ranks 10th in FCS in passing efficiency (152.02), and is the only freshman in the top 18 of the rankings. In eight games as a starter and one as a sub, he has completed 62.6 percent of his passes for 1,504 yards, 14 touchdowns and six interceptions.

* An incredible scramble and touchdown throw by Vernon Adams against Sacramento State on Oct. 20 is a finalist for the GEICO Play of the Year. For eight weeks, fans voted for the GEICO Play of the Year, and Adams won the Play of the Year voting for Week 8. The eight weekly winners will be shown on GEICO Best of College Football 2012 on CBS on Nov. 23 at 10:30 a.m. Pacific time. Voting for the GEICO Play of the Year took place through Nov. 12.

* Senior Jimmy Pavel made a 45-yard field goal against UC Davis on Nov. 10 to equal EWU’s single season record of 16 set last year by Mike Jarrett. The field goal also gives EWU 17 for the season, breaking the previous team record of 16 set last year. An impressive 16-of-17 on the season, Pavel ranks fourth in FCS with an average of 1.60 field goals per game. His .941 percentage is the best in FCS among kickers with at least 11 attempts this season. Pavel made kicks of 45 and 23 yards against Southern Utah on Oct. 27 to improve to 13-of-13 on the year, but missed his first attempt of the season on a 37-yarder that would have broken a 27-27 tie with 2:51 left in the game. Pavel, who handled kickoff duties a year ago, took over this season for Mike Jarrett, who made a school-record 16 field goals in just 18 attempts as a senior in 2011. Pavel missed his only attempt in the 2011 season, a 52-yarder. Thus, including a field goal Kevin Miller made earlier this season, the Eagles have made 33 of 37 field goal attempts the last two seasons for 89.2 percent. Pavel has also assumed part of EWU’s punting duties the last two games, and currently has a 46.3 average on seven punts with three downed inside the opponent 20-yard line.

* Starting defensive end Jerry Ceja is seventh in FCS and is second in the league with an average of 0.90 sacks per game (total of nine). Ceja had two sacks versus Montana State on Oct. 13, North Dakota on Oct. 6 and Weber State on Sept. 22. As a team, the Eagles are fourth in the league and 22nd nationally with an average of 2.60 per game.


The Senior Class

* Eastern’s roster includes 16 seniors, with 10 starting at least four games this season for the Eagles (three on offense, seven on defense). The list also includes the team’s starting long-snapper and kicker. Those 16 seniors have combined for 557 games worth of experience, and have 260 starts between them. A total of 12 of them will finish their careers as four-year letterwinners. More importantly, they have helped Eastern win 24-of-31 Big Sky Conference games and 35 overall the last four seasons, and 14 were a part of EWU’s NCAA Division I Championship in 2010. The senior class represents the first recruiting class for head coach Beau Baldwin in February of 2008. Below is the complete list with the number of games played/started listed at the end of each player’s roster information.
13 - Scott Burgett - Linebacker - 6-2 - 210 - Sr. - 3L* - Peoria, Ariz. (Centennial HS ’08) - 5/0
^91 - Jerry Ceja – Defensive End - 6-3 - 220 - Sr. - 3L - Aurora, Colo. (Grandview HS ’09) - 44/10
^56 - Evan Cook – Defensive Tackle - 6-3 - 280 - Sr. - 3L*  - Federal Way, Wash. (Todd Beamer HS ’08) - 36/24
^11 - Nicholas Edwards – Wide Receiver - 6-3 - 200 - Sr. - 3L* - Tacoma, Wash. (Foss HS ’08) - 46/42
^44 - Paul Ena – Defensive End - 6-2 - 240 - Sr. - 3L - Kenmore, Wash. (Inglemoor HS ’09) - 47/33
43 - Rusty Haehl - Linebacker - 5-11 - 215 - Sr. - 3L*  - Bellevue, Wash. (Bellevue HS ’08) - 42/1
^3 - Greg Herd – Wide Receiver - 6-3 - 200 - Sr. - 3L - Tacoma, Wash. (Steilacoom HS ’09) - 43/19
^10 - Zach Johnson - Linebacker - 6-1 - 225 - Sr. - 3L* - Tumwater, Wash. (Tumwater HS ’07) – 36/35
32 - Chase King - Linebacker - 6-1 - 215 - Sr. - 1L*  - Federal Way, Wash. (Decatur HS ’08) - 20/0
^7 - Jeff Minnerly – Safety - 6-1 - 200 - Sr. - 3L*  - Spokane, Wash. (Ferris HS ’08) - 36/22
27 - McKenzie Murphy - Safety - 5-9 - 190 - Sr. - TR* - Spokane, Wash. (Ferris HS ’08 / Western Washington) - 9/0
99 - Jimmy Pavel – Kicker  - 5-11 - 195 - Sr. - 1L* - Molalla, Ore. (Central Catholic HS ’08 / Boise State) – 20
^76 - Will Post – Offensive Tackle - 6-6 - 310 - Sr. - 3L*  - Portland, Ore. (Southridge HS ’08) - 41/32
54 - Jake Potter – Long Snapper - 6-2 - 200 - Sr. - 2L* - Kennewick, Wash. (Kamiakin HS ’08) – 39
^55 - Tyler Washburn - Linebacker - 6-1 - 230 - Sr. - 3L*  - Sammamish, Wash. (Skyline HS ’08) – 47/32
^18 - Grant Williams - Linebacker - 6-1 - 225 - Sr. - 3L*  - Puyallup, Wash. (Rogers HS ’08) – 46/10
^Has started at least four games this season.


More Game Notes

* Eastern head coach Beau Baldwin coached in his 100th Eastern game when the Eagles rallied to beat Montana 32-26. He is now 41-18 in four-plus seasons as a head coach (2008-12), and was 25-22 as EWU assistant coach for four seasons (2003-06), for a collective total of 66-40. His .744 winning percentage in Big Sky Conference games (29-10) is the best-ever by an Eastern head coach and currently ranks ninth in the 50-year history of the Big Sky Conference. His .695 percentage overall is 11th.

* Junior Brandon Kaufman has 56 catches for 1,109 yards (19.8 per catch) and 10 touchdowns thus far, including career highs of 10 catches for 192 yards versus Southern Utah on Oct. 27. Kaufman has gone over the 100-yard mark seven times this season and 15 times in his career. The 2010 All-American leads the Big Sky and ranks ninth in FCS in receiving yards per game (110.9), and his 10 TD receptions are eighth in FCS. Because of hand and knee injuries requiring surgery, Kaufman received an injury redshirt in the 2011 season after playing in the first four games of the year. Kaufman, who is from Denver, Colo., and is a 2009 graduate of Heritage HS, now has 184 career catches (fifth in school history) for 2,990 yards (fourth) and 27 touchdowns (fourth).

* The Eagles are now fourth in the league and 16th in FCS in passing offense (282.4 per game), as quarterbacks Vernon Adams and Kyle Padron are each averaging around the 200-yard mark per game in total offense. Adams ranks 10th in FCS in passing efficiency (152.02), and in eight games as a starter and one as a sub, he has completed 62.6 percent of his passes for 1,504 yards, 14 touchdowns and six interceptions. Padron, who started the first two games and has played five others as a sub, has completed 55.5 percent of his passes for 1,308 yards, eight TDs and four interceptions. Adams has rushed for 297 yards and is averaging 200.1 yards of total offense per game, and Padron has 61 rushing and averages 195.6 yards of offense. The Eagles had a season-best 542 total yards versus Cal Poly and are now fifth in the Big Sky and 20th in FCS in total offense (431.3). Eastern is also 28th in passing efficiency (139.68) and 32nd in scoring offense (30.9).

* The Eagles, an early leader in the Big Sky Conference in scoring defense, are now second in the league. They have allowed 22.3 points per game, which ranks 40th in FCS.

* Eastern is now 64th in FCS in rushing defense (157.8), having given up only 336 rushing yards total in its first three games and just 70 versus Montana State. Eastern is also 71st in total defense (388.3). Before Montana rushed for 407 yards against EWU on Sept. 29, the Eagles ranked 25th in FCS and third in the league in rushing defense (112.0 yards per game). A year ago, Eastern was 101st out of 120 FCS schools in total defense (411.9) and 110th in rushing defense (213.2).

* Freshman Shaquille Hill, who had a 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown against North Dakota on Sept. 6, ranks 22nd in FCS with an average of 25.3 yards per kickoff return. Eastern is 11th in FCS with a 24.2 average.

* In other national rankings, Eastern is 21st in turnover margin (+0.60 per game). Eastern’s Jake Miller is ninth in punting (43.3), although teammate Jimmy Pavel has handled much of the punting chores in EWU’s last two games.

* Portland State enters this week’s game ranked 14th in FCS in both rushing offense (219.8) and scoring offense (34.9), and are 15th in total offense (442.2). However, the Vikings are 108th out of 121 FCS schools in scoring defense (35.5) and are 109th in passing defense (257.0). Individually, freshman quarterback Keiran McDonagh is 36th in FCS in total offense (234.2). The Vikings lead the league and are seventh in FCS in tackles for loss (7.8 per game), and are also tops in the league and fifth nationally in fewest sacks allowed (0.7 per game, total of seven)

* The 2012 season was the first time the Eagles have started the Big Sky Conference season 4-0, and the Eagles bettered that with a 5-0 start. The last time EWU was 3-0 in conference play was in 2009, joining 2004, 1996 and 1992 as the only teams to accomplish that feat. Only in 1992 and 2004 did EWU go on to win the Big Sky Conference title, sharing those championships with Idaho and Montana, respectively.

* Overall, since becoming a member of FCS in 1984, Eastern has started the season 5-1 in 1997, 1996 and 1985. However, the only time the Eagles have gone 6-1 until this season came in 1997 when the Eagles were 12-1 before losing to Youngstown State 25-14 in the semifinals of the FCS Playoffs. Besides 1997 when they entered the postseason 10-1, the only times Eastern has won nine games in the regular season came in 2010 (9-2 before finishing 13-2) and 1985 (9-2 before finishing 9-3).

* Eastern has perhaps the top wide receiver trio in all of FCS, with three players who have all earned All-America accolades and have 1,000-yard seasons in their careers -- Nicholas Edwards, Greg Herd and Brandon Kaufman. They have combined for 127 games worth of experience (93 starts), and have collective totals of 533 catches for 7,514 yards and 73 touchdowns. Edwards and Herd are seniors and Kaufman is a junior after he received an injury redshirt in 2011. Junior Ashton Clark, who had a career-high 11 catches versus Southern Utah on Oct. 27, has 71 catches for 841 yards and seven touchdowns in his career.

* The Eagles have a quartet of linebackers who have combined for 149 games of experience (95 starts) in their careers, with a collective total of 858 tackles. Zach Johnson (35 games played/35 starts) has 291 tackles, Tyler Washburn (47/32) has 238, Ronnie Hamlin (21/18) has 183 and Grant Williams (46/10) has 146. In addition, Cody McCarthy (15/5, 72 tackles) has seen significant action for EWU since last season.

* Junior cornerback T.J. Lee has piled up some impressive statistics already this season, including nine tackles and a sack versus Southern Utah on Oct. 27, and eight tackles, a pass broken up and a forced fumble on a sack that he also recovered versus Weber State on Sept. 22. One game earlier against Washington State, he had six tackles and an interception, as the Eagle defense pitched a shutout in the second half and kept the Eagles in the game. His interception in the fourth quarter came at the Eastern 7-yard line and helped thwart one of two potential scoring drives for the Cougars late in the game. A first team All-Big Sky selection a year ago, Lee now has 123 tackles, three interceptions, nine passes broken up and 2 1/2 sacks in his 30-game career (16 starts).

* A part of Eastern’s Ferris High School connection in the secondary, redshirt freshman Jordan Tonani has made his mark as an injury replacement for safety Jeff Minnerly, who suffered a broken collarbone against Montana on Sept. 29. Tonani finished with seven tackles, his third interception of the season and a pass broken up in EWU’s 31-28 victory over UC Davis on Nov. 10. One game earlier, he had a pick and eight tackles versus Cal Poly, earning College Sports Madness Big Sky Defensive Player of the Week accolades. On Oct. 13, with EWU clinging to a 20-17 lead over Montana State, Tonani stepped in front of a MSU receiver on an out route for an interception he returned 21 yards for a touchdown with 11:15 to play, becoming the winning points in a 27-24 victory over the second-ranked Bobcats. He also had eight tackles, and as a result, was selected as the College Sports Madness National FCS Defensive Player of the Week, as well as their same honor for the Big Sky Conference. One game earlier in his first collegiate start, Tonani had a team-leading 11 tackles as the Eagles held North Dakota scoreless in the second half of a 55-17 win. Entering the game, UND had 37 plays of 20 or more yards on offense this season, and EWU’s goal was to hold North Dakota to three or less. The Eagles did better than that, holding UND to just one – a 24-yard pass play in the third quarter after EWU had already opened a 34-17 lead. Interestingly, Tonani and Minnerly are from the same high school in Spokane, Wash. Tonani graduated from Ferris in 2011; Minnerly graduated in 2008, along with EWU backup safety McKenzie Murphy. Murphy broke his thumb against North Dakota, and despite wearing a padded cast, had an interception Oct. 27 against Southern Utah after missing the Montana State and Sacramento State games. Minnerly, who returned to start against UC Davis on Nov. 10, was also Eastern’s leading tackler in his first career start, finishing with eight tackles in a 49-24 loss at Nevada on Sept. 2, 2010.

* Eastern’s fourth quarter magic dating back to 2010 is alive and well. In the last three seasons (2010-12), the Eagles have had 11 victories when they’ve trailed or been tied in the final stanza. The latest comeback came on Nov. 10 when EWU trailed by 11 at halftime and four entering the final quarter, but rallied to beat UC Davis 31-28. Vernon Adams scored the go-ahead points with 8:13 left in the game, then David Gaylord blocked a field goal with 41 ticks of the clock remaining to preserve EWU’s victory. In a 27-24 victory over second-ranked Montana State on Oct. 13, the sixth-ranked Eagles trailed 17-13 in the fourth quarter before scoring two non-offensive touchdowns within a span of 59 seconds. The Eagles blocked a punt (Dylan Zylstra) and recovered it for a touchdown (Evan Day), then returned an interception for a score (Jordan Tonani). On Sept. 29, Eastern scored two touchdowns in the final 2:19 as the No. 7 Eagles rallied for a 32-26 victory over the 21st-ranked Montana Grizzlies. A year ago, a touchdown pass by wide receiver Greg Herd sparked Eastern to scores on four consecutive plays (two touchdowns and two conversions) in the second and third overtimes as the Eagles prevailed 53-51 over Cal Poly on Nov. 12. Eastern sent the game into overtime with a 10-play, 80-yard drive to score with 1:51 to play. Just two games earlier, Eastern rallied from a 15-point deficit to defeat Sacramento State 42-35 in overtime Oct. 22 at Hornet Stadium. The victory kept EWU perfect in 11 tries versus the Hornets in Sacramento. In 2010, Eastern was no stranger to narrow victories, with six victories when trailing in the fourth quarter. In fact, nine of its 13 wins during the national championship season were nail-biters -- 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 over Delaware in the national championship game when the Eagles rallied from a 19-0 deficit to score three touchdowns in the final 16:48.

* Eastern’s running game is much-improved in 2012, with the Eagles ranking 63rd in FCS with an average of 148.9 yards per game. A year ago, Eastern ranked 112th out of 120 FCS teams with an average of 79.0 per game. Only once last year did Eastern have more than 139 yards rushing in a single game and EWU already has performances of 290 (North Dakota), 254 (Cal Poly), 206 (Weber State) and 162 (Idaho). The 290 yards versus UND are Eastern’s most since it had 307 versus Montana-Western in 2007, and the most versus an FCS opponent since running for 295 against Weber State in 2004.

* This is the first time in school history all 11 Eastern games will be played on artificial surfaces. Eastern played on grass just once in 2010 (Weber State) and 2011 (Cal Poly). Prior to having red Sprinturf installed in 2010, Eastern’s Roos Field (formerly Woodward Field) was a grass surface.

* A quartet of Eagle seniors have been selected as Eastern’s co-captains for the 2012 season. They include defensive end Paul Ena, linebacker Zach Johnson, wide receiver Nicholas Edwards and offensive tackle Will Post. Johnson was a senior captain last year before an injury cut short his season, but he was granted a sixth year by the NCAA to complete four years of eligibility. Featured on the school’s schedule poster and in other publications, all four suffered injuries this season. Injuries to Edwards (knee) and Ena (hand) caused them to miss the first games of their careers, and Johnson (hamstring) is a sixth-year senior who has now missed 24 games because of an injury-plagued career. Post (high ankle sprain) was injured in practice the week of the North Dakota game, but was able to start versus UND.

* Eastern led the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision in passing offense in 2011, averaging 368.5 yards per game. In Beau Baldwin’s four years as Eastern’s head coach, the Eagles have ranked in the top 10 in FCS in passing offense three times and total offense twice. In EWU’s last eight seasons (1994-2011), including seven with Baldwin on the coaching staff, EWU has ranked in the top 10 in passing six times and total offense on five occasions.

* The weekly Gridiron Power Rankings are released every Tuesday by College Sporting News (, and last week the top eight teams were North Dakota State, Sam Houston State, Montana State, Eastern Washington, Georgia Southern, Northern Arizona, Illinois State, Indiana State, South Dakota State, Central Arkansas, Stony Brook and Cal Poly. This week’s ratings should be released by Nov. 6.

* Eastern senior safety Jeff Minnerly has “three-peated” on the Capital One Academic All-District VIII squad, joining teammates Ashton Miller and Jordan Talley on the team selected by members of the College Sports Information Directors Association (CoSIDA). Minnerly currently has a 3.78 grade point average with a double major in finance and electrical engineering. Miller, a junior offensive center, has a 3.66 GPA and is majoring in management. Talley is a sophomore running back, and is a pre-medicine major with a 3.49 GPA. Eastern football players have now been honored 56 times since 1989 on the All-District VIII squad, and seven players have gone on to win nine Academic All-America honors. The District VIII university division includes all NCAA Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) and Bowl Subdivision (FBS) teams from nine western states, including Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Washington.

* Despite coming off a 6-5 season, Eastern was picked to finish second in the Big Sky Conference. Two-time defending co-champion Montana State was selected first by the media and the coaches in the polls. MSU, which has finished 7-1 in the conference in each of the past two seasons and advanced to the playoffs, earned seven first-place votes in the coaches poll and a total of 136 points. In the media poll, the Bobcats received 30 of 40 first-place votes and 502 total points. Eastern garnered four first-place votes and 131 total points from the coaches. In the media poll, the Eagles earned three first-place votes and 453 total points. A year ago, the Eagles were picked to win the league title after they had won the 2010 Big Sky championship and went on to win the NCAA Division I title. But an 0-4 start and a rash of injuries led to a 6-5 finish overall and 5-3 mark in the Big Sky in 2011.

* Since current Tennessee Titan Michael Roos became an offensive lineman as a sophomore at Eastern Washington University in 2002, he started every football game he played from 2002-12 as a collegian or professional until an appendicitis attack and subsequent surgery ended his streak on Oct. 28. Here’s the math: 35 starts at EWU (3 seasons, 2002-04) + 34 preseason NFL Games (8 seasons, 2005-12) + 119 regular season NFL Games (7 1/2 seasons, 2005-11) + 2 NFL Playoff Games (2007 & 2008) +1 NFL Pro Bowl Game (February 2009) = 191-Straight Starts (through 10/21/12)


Injury Report

* Starting running back Jordan Talley (concussion) remains out, having missed five games already. Backup offensive tackle T.J. Boatright (knee) has missed the last two games and is questionable this week. Senior safety Jeff Minnerly suffered a fractured collarbone against Montana, but returned to start on Senior Day against UC Davis on Nov. 10. Linebacker Zach Johnson (hamstring) returned against Cal Poly to keep his streak of starting every game he’s played – 34 -- alive. He played in just EWU’s first defensive series against Weber State before he had to sit out the rest of the game, and missed five full games (total of 24 in his career). Starting defensive tackle Andru Pulu (ankle) and starting tight end Zack Gehring (shoulder) missed the Southern Utah game because of injuries suffered against Sacramento State, but returned to play versus Cal Poly. Linebacker Cody McCarthy also played versus the Mustangs after missing the Sacramento State and Southern Utah games with a knee injury. He originally hurt the knee in practice and missed the Montana game, but returned to play the next week versus North Dakota. J.C. Agen, who started in 2011 after Johnson was lost for the season with a knee injury, will be out the rest of the season. He missed the first two EWU games with a torn pectoral muscle, but made his season debut in limited action versus Weber State. However, he has missed every game since for an injury that required surgery. Backup safety McKenzie Murphy broke his thumb against North Dakota and subsequently had surgery, and missed the Montana State and Sacramento State games. He returned to play against Southern Utah, and had an interception despite wearing a padded cast. Minnerly and Murphy are both 2008 graduates of Ferris High School in Spokane, Wash. Starting offensive tackle Clay DeBord missed the Sacramento State game with an ankle injury, but returned to play at Southern Utah. Wide receiver Nicholas Edwards returned to play against Montana State after missing two games because of a knee sprain on a pass reception on EWU’s first offensive play of the game at Weber State. Defensive end Paul Ena returned to start versus Montana after a wrist injury in the first half against Washington State sidelined him for the rest of that game, as well as Weber State. Ena, the lone returning starter on the defensive line, started against Idaho on Aug. 30 despite suffering an elbow injury in practice about a week earlier. Wide receiver Greg Herd played against Weber State after suffering a concussion versus Washington State, but probably wouldn’t have played if Eastern would have had a game on Sept. 15. Running back Demitrius Bronson missed the first two games with an injured hamstring, but returned to carry the ball twice versus Weber State.


Series Notes

* After winning the previous two meetings by a collective 97-27 score, Eastern lost 43-26 at home in the 2011 season. Eastern now trails in the all-time series 19-14-1. Eastern is 7-9 against the Vikings in Portland, including victories in 2010 (50-17) and 2002 (27-24) at Hillsboro Stadium. Eastern is 6-10-1 at home against them and 1-0 in neutral site games. The road team has won eight of the last 14 meetings, not including a 2009 neutral site game in Seattle.

* Last year Portland State finished with 499 yards of total offense, and the year before the Eagles had 523 in a 50-17 win. In 2009 at Seattle’s Qwest Field, Eastern had a 545-278 advantage in total offense in a 47-10 romp. But the previous season in 2008 in a 47-36 Portland State win, the Vikings passed for 623 yards and five touchdowns.

* The meeting in 2008 was the third-straight victory in the series for PSU, which lost three-straight to EWU before that from 2003-05. The longest winning streak by either team was by Portland State in the first four games of the series from 1968-71.

* The teams have played every year since 1990 when PSU was a member of NCAA Division II. The Vikings became a member of the Big Sky in 1996, and the series is tied 8-8 since then.

* In last year’s loss, Eastern was gashed for more than 300 yards rushing as Portland State ran its way to a 43-26 Big Sky Conference football victory Oct. 29 on Senior Day at Roos Field. The Vikings used their pistol offense to score on four-straight possessions in the second quarter and three-straight possessions in the third. Portland State scored 21 unanswered points to turn a 20-15 EWU lead into a 36-20 advantage in the third quarter. Viking quarterback Connor Kavanaugh rushed for 154 yards and passed for another 147 and a touchdown for PSU, which finished with 338 yards rushing and 499 total yards. Eastern, led by the 440 passing yards of quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell, rushed for minus 1 yard as Mitchell was sacked five times. Eastern finished with 439 yards of total offense and lost the turnover battle 3-1. Mitchell completed 20-of-42 passes and had four touchdowns in the loss, including three to Nicholas Edwards and one to Greg Herd. Edwards finished with nine catches for 166 yards and Herd had five receptions for 196 yards, which ranks sixth in school history. Safeties Allen Brown and Jeff Minnerly each had 10 tackles for the Eagles, and true freshman middle linebacker Cody McCarthy also had 10.

*The last time the two teams played in Portland, EWU’s Taiwan Jones rushed for 196 yards and three touchdowns in the first half alone as eighth-ranked Eastern Washington University defeated PSU 50-17 on Oct. 30, 2010. Eastern finished with 523 yards of offense, and at one point had a 183-5 advantage over the Vikings en route to jumping out to a 14-0 lead. Quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell added 231 yards and two touchdowns through the air, finishing 13-of-23 with no interceptions. Freshman redshirt tight end Zack Gehring finished with a team-high 123 yards on three receptions with a 70-yard touchdown. J.C. Sherritt had 15 tackles to lead the defense. After leading 28-10 at intermission, the Eagles turned a blocked punt by Darriell Beaumonte into a recovery for a touchdown by T.J. Lee to increase the advantage to 18. Eastern scored the next 10 points on a 44-yard field goal by Kevin Miller and a 15-yard touchdown pass from Mitchell to Brandon Kaufman.


Eagle-Portland State Connections

* Eastern linebacker coach Josh Fetter was defensive line coach at Portland State from 2006-09. In the 2009 season, two of his Viking linemen earned honorable mention All-Big Sky honors, and in 2007, all three of his regular starters were all-league. In 2006, PSU led the Big Sky in turnover margin, passing efficiency defense, sacks per game, tackles for loss, third-down defense, fourth-down defense and red-zone defense. The Vikings shut-out Eastern 34-0 in 2006, beat EWU 28-21 in 2007 and knocked off Eastern 47-36 in 2008, then EWU defeated PSU 47-10 in 2009 at Qwest Field in Seattle.

* Portland State head coach Nigel Burton is 1-1 as a head coach versus EWU, but as an assistant was 3-0. He coached the secondary from 2003-07 at Oregon State, which defeated EWU 56-17 in 2006. Burton was also defensive backs coach at PSU in 2001 and 2002, with EWU losing 37-22 the first season and 34-31 the next year.

* Eastern kicker Jimmy Pavel and Portland State starting defensive tackles Zach Ka’ahanui played together at Central Catholic High School in Portland, Ore. Pavel graduated in 2008 and Ka’ahanui graduated a year later.

* Eagle linebacker Rusty Haehl and PSU backup defensive tackle Julious Moore played together on the 2007 Bellevue (Wash.) High School team, which finished 11-2. Haehl graduated from Bellevue in 2008 and Moore graduated in 2010.

* Eastern starting offensive tackle Will Post is a 2008 graduate of Southridge High School in Portland, and Portland State offensive lineman John Wall graduated from the same school a year later.

* The Eagles have a total of 10 players from Oregon on its roster, including a pair of Jesuit High School graduates (running back Jordan Talley and cornerback Miles Weatheroy). PSU also has a pair from Jesuit – safety Nick Rothstein and running back Jordan Lewis.


Records Watch

* Senior Jimmy Pavel made a 45-yard field goal against UC Davis on Nov. 10 to equal EWU’s single season record of 16 set last year by Mike Jarrett. The field goal also gives EWU 17 for the season, breaking the previous team record of 16 set last year.

* Besides Pavel, other 2012 performances ranking on EWU’s single season statistical leaders lists include Vernon Adams in passing efficiency (eighth, 152.25), Brandon Kaufman in reception yards (seventh, 1,109) and average per reception (fifth, 19.8), Jake Miller in punting average (third, 43.3) and Ronnie Hamlin in tackles (22nd, 98).

* Wide receiver Brandon Kaufman has 184 catches in his career to rank fifth in school history, and now is chasing teammate Nicholas Edwards (204) for fourth. Kaufman is fourth all-time in EWU history with 2,990 reception yards, and is now just 23 yards away from third (Tony Brooks, 1990-93, 3,013). Kaufman’s 27 touchdown catches are fourth, two away from the No. 3 position of 29 held by Aaron Boyce (2006-09) and three behind the No. 2 position held by teammate Nicholas Edwards (30).

* Wide receiver Nicholas Edwards is now seventh all-time in Eastern history in receiving yards with 2,497, and is just 27 from the No. 6 position and 69 from No. 5. He is also just two points away from moving into eighth in points scored (currently he has 184). His 201 career catches ranks fourth in school history (No. 3 has 213) and his 30 TD receptions are second (the record is 46).

* Senior wide receiver Greg Herd has moved onto EWU’s all-time leaders list for career catches. His 145 grabs ranks 12th, and is just two receptions from 11th and four from the No. 10 position. His catches have been good for 2,027 yards and 16 touchdowns, and he could also be among EWU’s career leaders in those categories before the season concludes. He is just 34 yards from ranking 15th in receiving yards.

* The 43.8 career punting average of sophomore Jake Miller currently ranks ahead of the school record. Jesse Nicassio had a 42.3 average in two seasons from 2002-03. Miller had a school-record 74-yard punt versus Washington State on Sept. 8, breaking the previous record of 71 set in 2006 by Ryan Donckers.

* Linebacker Zach Johnson has 291 tackles in his career to rank eighth all-time at Eastern. He is just 22 tackles from moving into seventh all-time at Eastern, and is 50 away from the total of 341 by his twin brother Matt Johnson, who now plays for the Dallas Cowboys.

* Senior linebacker Tyler Washburn is now in the top 20 in career tackles in Eastern history, currently ranking 14th with 238. He is five from the No. 13 position and six from ranking 12th.

* Defensive end Paul Ena recovered a fumble and returned it 40 yards against Montana State on Oct. 13, equaling the school record for career fumble recoveries. He shares the school record of eight with Nicholas Ramos (2006-09) and Steve Mattson (1994-97). Ramos, in fact, was at the MSU game and was a guest on EWU’s pre-game radio show.

* Senior defensive end Jerry Ceja is ninth all-time in career sacks with 20 1/2, and needs only a half-sack from moving into eighth and 1 1/2 from seventh. Ceja also has five forced fumbles in his career, just one behind the school record of six shared by four players. The players who own the record are Matt Johnson (2008-11), Renard Williams (2008-11), J.C. Sherritt (2007-10) and Chris Scott (1994-97).


Recent Game Summary

* After a promising start, the Eagles were out-scored 22-0 in the second quarter, regained the lead in the fourth quarter then blocked a field goal in the final minute to preserve a 31-28 victory over UC Davis Nov. 10 in a Big Sky Conference game at Roos Field in Cheney, Wash. The Aggies were poised to pull off the upset with a long drive on their final possession, but Eastern’s David Gaylord blocked a 52-yard field goal attempt by Brady Stuart with 46 seconds left to preserve the Eagle win and keep Eastern’s Big Sky Conference championship hopes alive.

* Eastern trailed at halftime 25-14, causing head coach Beau Baldwin to admit what he said to the team in the locker room: “Basically I told them the truth. We were getting our tails kicked.” Eastern led early 14-3 and had a 141-31 advantage in total offense. But over the next 18 1/2 minutes, UC Davis converted four of five third downs and rolled up 247 yards of offense to take a 25-14 lead at halftime. In that same time span, Eastern had only 37 yards of offense and only one first down, and had to punt on its final three possessions.

* Eastern quarterbacks Vernon Adams and Kyle Padron combined to complete 19-of-31 passes for 242 yards and a touchdown, but the Eagles were out-gained in total offense 435-361. Adams scored the go-ahead points for Eastern with a 9-yard run with 8:13 left in the game. Junior Demitrius Bronson added 63 yards and a pair of touchdowns on the ground for EWU, and senior Greg Herd led all receivers with seven catches for 101 yards and a score. Junior Brandon Kaufman added five catches for 109. Defensively, senior linebacker Zach Johnson led the Eagles with 10 tackles, and junior cornerback T.J. Lee added nine. Redshirt freshman safety Jordan Tonani had seven tackles, an interception and a pass broken up.

* Read more at:



Quoting Coach Beau Baldwin

On Yet Another Comeback: “I can remember a few like that. It’s one of those hard-fought Big Sky wins. It is part of who we are and part of what we do in terms of still finding ways to win even when we are not playing your best ball. I give credit to UC Davis in terms of what they did making plays, but I know there were some things that we need to look at and not fall into. I just felt a little bit of a lull in our team when we went up 14-3, and then it all of a sudden catapulted into a bunch of good stuff for them. We can’t let that happen.”

On Starting Padron in the Second Half: “The second quarter wasn’t real great and we needed a spark. Had we gotten the ball one more time with significant time in the first half, Kyle was going to go in then. Once we didn’t, I decided to play Kyle in the third quarter. He did a great job. He led us to 10 points, which were huge.”

On Adams Leading Go-Ahead Drive in Fourth Quarter: “Sometimes, as a young quarterback especially, when you get to watch the game from the sidelines you can start to see things that you didn’t see early on. Vernon came back in with some energy. I am just trying to listen to my gut. It’s not always right, but If I don’t go with my gut what am I going to listen to?”

On Winning on Senior Day: “It means a lot and these players have helped pave our way. I joked earlier that every one of those guys played on a grass field which was sometimes sloppy with a small scoreboard – that wasn’t that long ago. Now, all of a sudden, look where we are. Every young player needs to recognize that the benefits they are reaping – including the red turf -- was all paved by those seniors. They did some great things in ‘09 and helped us spring into ’10 with the red turf, a national championship and now the new videoboard. I am so appreciative of that group for what they have done to help us and help our program. They are a group of great young men. On the field they have been amazing, and hopefully we can see how far we can go with them. They’ve been amazing off the field too, carrying a 3.0 grade point average as a team. They have paved the way for what it is to be an Eastern football player. And this Senior Day means a little bit more because it was our first signing class. They are all special, but this one just that much more.”


Career Starts

Defense (277 starts by 22 players): Zach Johnson 35, Paul Ena 33, Tyler Washburn 32, Evan Cook 24, Jeff Minnerly 22, Allen Brown 22, Ronnie Hamlin 18, T.J. Lee 16, David Gaylord 13, Grant Williams 10 (includes one start on offense in 2009), Ronald Baines 10, Jerry Ceja 10, Andru Pulu 9, Cody McCarthy 5, Jordan Tonani 5, J.C. Agen 4, Evan Day 3, Will Katoa 2, Dylan Zylstra 1, Rusty Haehl 1, Miles Weatheroy 1, Christian Hudnell 1.

Offense (274 starts by 23 players): Nicholas Edwards 42, Brandon Kaufman 32, Will Post 32, Steven Forgette 27, Zack Gehring 19, Greg Herd 19, Brandon Murphy 19, Ashton Miller 11, Jordan Talley 9, Clay DeBord 9, Vernon Adams 8, Drew Reynolds 8, Ryan Seto 6, Quincy Forte 6, Ashton Clark 5, Demitrius Bronson 5, Mario Brown 5, Jake Withnell 2, Cody Humphrey 2, Kyle Padron 2, Daniel Johnson 2, Jase Butorac 2, Cory Mitchell 1, T.J. Boatright 1.

* Four Eagles made starting debuts against Idaho on Aug. 30. On defense, Washington transfer Andru Pulu made his first start at defensive tackle and had one tackle, and sophomore Evan Day had 1 1/2 sacks in his starting debut at an end position. On offense, SMU transfer Kyle Padron completed 13-of-33 passes for 260 yards and a touchdown in his Eagle debut, but previously started 21 games at the NCAA FBS level at Southern Methodist. Also making his starting debut was left offensive tackle Clay DeBord.

* The only other starting debuts since the opener have been made by quarterback Vernon Adams at Weber State on Sept. 22, Jake Withnell against Montana on Sept. 29, Jordan Tonani against North Dakota on Oct. 6, offensive tackle T.J. Boatright against Sacramento State on Oct. 20, defensive tackle Dylan Zylstra  versus Southern Utah on Oct. 27 and cornerbacks Miles Weatheroy and Christian Hudnell against Cal Poly on Nov. 3. In an unannounced and surprise start, Adams used his arm and his feet to lead EWU to a 20-3 halftime lead versus Weber State. The redshirt freshman led Eastern to scores on four of five drives in the first half, including a 75-yard touchdown mark on his first drive as an Eagle. He finished the game 7-of-12 for 75 yards, and ran five times for 62 yards, but missed most of the second half with cramping. Of his five rushes, four were for first downs; of his seven completions, four more resulted in EWU first downs. Tonani, starting because of broken collarbone suffered by Jeff Minnerly, had 11 tackles in his starting debut, then had eight with an interception return for a touchdown the next game in a 27-21 win over second-seeded Montana State. Boatright started as an injury replacement for Clay DeBord (ankle) and Zylstra started in place of an injured Andru Pulu (ankle). Weatheroy and Hudnell started when three other cornerbacks had to miss the first series against the Mustangs for being late for a weightlifting session earlier in the week.

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