A large group of 21 Eastern players will be honored on Senior Day at Roos Field as Eagles try to become the first Big Sky team other than Montana to win an outright title since 1997
#3 Eastern Washington Univ. "Eagles"
Portland State University "Vikings"
Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013 • 2:45 p.m.
Roos Field (8,600) • Cheney, Wash.
Gameday Central: www.goeags.com/gamedaycentral
EWU Coach: Beau Baldwin (Central Washington ‘96)
School Record: 53-21/37-10 Big Sky Conference (6th Season)
Career Record: 63-24 (7th Season -- was 10-3 at CWU in 2007, 6-5 at EWU in 2008, 8-4 in 2009, 13-2 in 2010, 6-5 in 2011, 11-3 in 2012)
2013: 9-2/7-0 Big Sky
2012: 11-3/7-1 Big Sky Conference (co-champ; FCS Playoffs semifinals)
Last Game: #3 EWU 35, Cal Poly 22 (Nov. 16 in San Luis Obispo, Calif.)
TV: Televised live regionally by ROOT Sports, DirectTV 101 & Dish Network 102. Talent: Rich Burk (play by play), Robb Akey (analyst), Brad Adam (sideline)
Radio: 700-AM ESPN in Spokane. Larry Weir returns for his 23rd 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 Washington Trust Bank Tailgate Show, starting 1 1/2 hours prior to kickoff.
Internet Radio: www.700espn.com or www.tunein.com.
Radio iPhone App: Search for “700 ESPN” and download app. An app is also available for tunein radio.
Live Stats: ewulive.statb.us (web) or ewustats.com (mobile phones)
Weekly Coaches Show: Mondays 6 p.m. at “Epic” at Northern Quest Resort & Casino (formerly the “Q”) . . . 700-AM ESPN, www.700espn.com & via iphone app. (search for “Spokane Radio” and download app).
Watch Parties: Consult EWU social media outlets for details the Friday before games. Those who may carry EWU games include “Epic” at Northern Quest Casino and Resort in Airway Heights, the Swinging Doors in North Spokane and at Eagles Pub in Cheney.
With a league title and playoff berth already safely in hand, the third-ranked Eagles are trying to do something no Big Sky Conference team other than Montana has accomplished since 1997.
The Eastern Washington University football team will put its unblemished Big Sky Conference record on the line when it hosts Portland State on Saturday (Nov. 23) on Senior Day and Military Appreciation Day at Roos Field in Cheney, Wash. Kickoff is 2:45 p.m. Pacific time for the third of three-straight EWU games televised on ROOT Sports.
Eastern will be sporting white jerseys with camouflage trim Saturday in recognition of Military Appreciation Day. But the day also belongs to the group of 21 seniors who will be honored in pre-game ceremonies. The match-up is also part of the “Dam Cup” rivalry between the athletic programs of the two schools, and fans can influence the outcome by visiting the new Dam Cup Fan Challenge site at DamCup.com.
The PSU game concludes EWU’s first-ever 12-game regular season, and the Eagles have already clinched the league’s automatic berth in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision Playoffs. Pairings will be announced on Sunday (Nov. 24) at 8:30 a.m. Pacific time on ESPNU.
Eastern has already won at least a share of their seventh Big Sky Conference title in school history with the victory. The Eagles shared the title with Cal Poly and Montana State last year, and have also won league titles in 1992, 1997, 2004, 2005 and 2010. It was Eastern’s third in the last four years (2010, 2012, 2013). Winning three titles in the last four years is unprecedented in school history.
Moreover, the Eagles will make their 10th playoff appearance, including seven in the last 10 seasons (1985, 1992, 1997, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013).
But there is even more on the line for the Eagles, who are trying to be the first team other than Montana to win the outright league title in the last 16 years. The last time that was accomplished was by the Eagles in 1997 on their way to the semifinals of the FCS Playoffs. Eastern could also become the first league team to finish unbeaten since Montana finished 8-0 in 2009, and the first non-Montana school to do it since 1991 when Nevada was 8-0.
The Eagles are 9-2 overall and a perfect 7-0 in Big Sky Conference play for the first time in school history. Eastern is ranked third in The Sports Network FCS Top-25 Poll for the fifth-straight week.
This week’s game will be a match-up of the top two offenses in the league, with EWU ranking fourth in FCS in total offense (531.4 per game) and seventh in scoring (40.3), while PSU is just ahead of the Eagles in third in offense (league-leading 534.8 average per game) and 24th in scoring (34.4). A week after playing the nation’s top rushing team in Cal Poly, this week Eastern takes on No. 2 averaging 285.2 yards per game. D.J. Adams leads the league and is fifth in FCS in rushing (132.4 per game) with a total of 1,456 yards and 18 touchdowns.
Eastern quarterback Vernon Adams leads FCS in total offense (369.9 per game) with a total of 4,069 yards and 41 touchdown passes. The Walter Payton Award candidate is climbing the FCS record book in both categories, as well as his passing efficiency rating of 191.4, which leads the nation, ranks fourth all-time in FCS and is well ahead of EWU and Big Sky records.
The Vikings, 6-5 overall and 3-4 in the league, are coming off a heart-breaking 43-42 loss versus Sacramento State in PSU’s final home game in which the Hornets scored the winning points with 30 seconds to play. Portland State was 3-1 earlier this season with a narrow loss to Cal (37-30) its only blemish, but the Vikings lost in consecutive weeks to ranked FCS teams -- #18 Cal Poly (38-34) and #10 Montana (55-27), then suffered a disappointing 17-7 loss to Southern Utah. Since then, the Vikings had won three-straight until losing to Sac State.
Eastern is just 45 points from the school record of 488 set in 2004. During its current seven-game winning streak – all against Big Sky foes -- Eastern has outscored its opponents by a 296-165 margin – a 42-23 average score. The last loss for EWU was 49-34 at Sam Houston State on Sept. 28, and its other loss was 33-21 to NCAA Football Championship Subdivision foe Toledo.
Official Social Media Sites
Facebook:EWU Football, EWU Athletics
PDF Link to Fact Book
The complete version of the 2013 EWU football fact book may be
More Eagle Football Links and Headlines
Gameday Central - http://goeags.com/gamedaycentral
Dam Cup Fan Challenge site - http://www.damcup.com
EWU Football Web Page - http://goeags.com/sports/m-footbl/index
EWU Football News & Notes - http://www.goeags.com/sports/m-footbl/2013-14/news
EWU Coach and Player Interview Podcasts - http://www.goeags.com/radio_podcasts/radio_podcasts.html
Link to Football Ticket & RV Parking Information: http://www.goeags.com/tickets
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
700 ESPN – http://700espn.com
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 (2013) - http://stats.ncaa.org/rankings?sport_code=MFB&division=12
NCAA Statistics (2012) - http://web1.ncaa.org/mfb/mainpage.jsp?year=2012
College Sporting News - http://www.collegesportingnews.com
College Sports Journal - http://www.college-sports-journal.com
College Football Performance Awards – http://www.collegefootballperformance.com
College Sports Madness - http://www.collegesportsmadness.com/fcs-football
Approaching Season Milestones
Vernon Adams TD Passes (41) . . . Adams already owns the school record, ranks second in Big Sky history and is ninth all-time in FCS. Jimmy Garoppolo of Eastern Illinois leads the nation in 2013 and is seventh in FCS history with 42. Adams needs just one to equal the Big Sky record of 42 by Brian Ah Yat of Montana in 1996. Depending on what Garoppolo does on Nov. 23, Adams needs two TDs to move into fifth and three TDs would rank him third in FCS history behind the record of 56 shared by Willie Totten (Mississippi Valley 1984) and Bruce Eugene (Grambling 2005).
Vernon Adams Total Offense (4,069) . . . needs 155 yards to equal the school record of 4,224 yards set by Erik Meyer in 2005 (third in Big Sky history/15th all-time in FCS). Adams is currently third in school history, sixth in the Big Sky and 13th all-time in FCS. He is only 67 yards from second/fifth/20th (4,136, Matt Nichols, 2007).
Vernon Adams Passing Yards (3,602) . . . needs 105 yards to move into fifth in EWU history and 10th in Big Sky history (Erik Meyer 3,707 in 2004). He is 407 from the school record of 4,009 set by Bo Levi Mitchell in 2011 (fifth in BSC history/19th all-time in FCS)
Vernon Adams Passing Efficiency (191.4/67%, 3,602 yards, 41 TD, 10 Int.) . . . Adams currently ranks fourth in FCS history, and is better than the current Big Sky record (175.2, Doug Nussmeier, Idaho, 1993/61%, 2,690 yards, 33 TD, 5 Int.) and the EWU mark (171.4, Erik Meyer, 2004/68%, 3,707 yards, 31 TD, 9 Int.).
Cooper Kupp Receiving Touchdowns (16) . . . He shares the FCS record for most consecutive games with a TD catch in a season of 11 set by Moss Randy Moss from Marshall in 1996, Cal Poly’s Ramses Barden in 2008 and EWU’s Brandon Kaufman in 2010. Currently second in school history, Kupp is three from the school record (19 shared by Nicholas Edwards, 2011, and Eric Kimble, 2004). The FCS record for most touchdowns by a freshman is held by Moss with 19 in 1996.
Cooper Kupp Receiving Yards (1,231) . . . Kupp owns the FCS record for receiving yards by a freshman, which was previously 1,196 yards by Sean Price of Appalachian State in 2012. He is currently seventh in school history and needs 19 to move into sixth, 77 to move into fifth and 145 from fourth. The school record is 1,850 set by Brandon Kaufman in 2012.
Cooper Kupp Receptions (68) . . . Is 13 catches from the FCS record for receptions by a freshman (81, Sean Price, Appalachian State, 2012). He is currently 10th in school history, and is just three from ninth, four from eighth and eight from seventh in school history. The school record is 95 set by Nicholas Edwards in 2011.
Team Scoring (443) . . . EWU is just 45 points from equaling the school record of 488 set in 2004.
Team Touchdowns (62) . . . EWU is five touchdowns from equaling the school record of 67 set in 2004.
Team Total Offense (5,845). . . EWU is 890 yards from equaling the school record of 6,735 set in 1997.
Team TD Passes (44) . . . EWU has already broken the school record of 38 set in 2010 and the Big Sky record of 43 set by Montana in 1996. There is no FCS record for overall touchdown passes, but the record for passing TDs per game is 6.4 set by Mississippi Valley in 1984 (64 in 10 games).
Team Passing Efficiency (190.4/67%, 3,855 yards, 44 TD, 10 Int.) . . . The Eagles are on pace to break the school record of 162.3 set in 2004 (65%, 3,784 yards, 31 TD, 11 Int.). There is no Big Sky record, but the FCS mark is 197.3 set in 2007 by San Diego (68%, 3,270 yards, 48 TD, 2 Int.). Eastern is also on pace to break the school record for completion percentage of 65.5 percent set in 2004.
Approaching Career Milestones
Vernon Adams Passing Efficiency (179.5/65%, 5,563 yards, 61 TD, 18 Int.) . . . Although he is just shy of the minimum of 425 completions required, Adams currently ranks ahead of the FCS record (176.7, Josh Johnson, San Diego, 2004-07/68%, 9,699 yards, 113 TD, 15 Int.). His mark also ranks ahead of the former FCS record holder (now No. 2), which are also the Big Sky and EWU records (166.5, Erik Meyer, 2002-05/66%, 10,261 yards, 84 TD, 17 Int.).
Vernon Adams TD Passes (61) . . . Already fourth in school history, he is just nine from moving into third (70, Bo Levi Mitchell, 2010-11). The school record is 96 (Matt Nichols, 2006-09), which is second in Big Sky history and 14th all-time in FCS.
Vernon Adams Passing Yards (5,563 yards) . . .Already sixth in school history, he is just 25 yards from moving into fifth (5,588, Rick Worman, 1984-85). The school record is 12,616 (Matt Nichols, 2006-09), which is the Big Sky record and eighth all-time in FCS.
Vernon Adams Total Offense (6,372 yards) . . . Already fifth in school history, he is 1,056 yards from moving into fourth (7,428, Mark Tenneson, 1989-92). The school record is 13,308 (Matt Nichols, 2006-09), which is the Big Sky record and ranks sixth all-time in FCS.
Ronnie Hamlin Tackles (308) . . . Just the ninth player in school history to record 300 career tackles, Hamlin needs five tackles to move into eighth in school history (313, Dion Alexander, 1992-95). The school record is 432 (J.C. Sherritt, 2007-10), which is third in Big Sky history and ranks 15th in FCS history.
T.J. Lee Tackles (227) . . . Currently 19th in school history, he needs four tackles to move into 18th (231, Bill Altena, 1983-86) and eight to move into 17th in school history (235, Luke Vincent, 2001-04).
* Just a few tickets are available for EWU’s Senior Day game Nov. 23 versus Portland State. Eastern’s last three games have been sellouts, with crowds of between 9,734 and 10,223. Eastern is averaging 9,110 fans per game in four games at Roos Field thus far, and is on pace to break the record of 8,898 in the 2011 season. Last season, when EWU played eight home games, EWU averaged 8,089 fans per game.
* The Eagles are now 21-3 all-time on the red turf at Roos Field since 2010 when the stadium was renamed to Roos Field (formerly Woodward Field). Eastern avenged its first-ever loss at “The Inferno” with a 54-29 victory for the third-ranked Eagles over the fourth-ranked Bobcats on Nov. 9, 2013. Montana State handily defeated the Eagles 36-21 in Cheney in 2011, and the only other losses on the red turf were a 43-26 loss to Portland State on Oct. 29, 2011, and a 45-42 setback to Sam Houston State in the semifinals of the FCS Playoffs on Dec, 15, 2012. Eastern was 8-0 at home during the debut year when EWU won the NCAA Division I title, 2-2 in 2011, 7-1 in 2012 and 4-0 thus far in 2013.
* The Eagles are trying to become the first Big Sky team to finish the league season undefeated and win the outright league title since Montana did it in 2009. The Grizzlies are the only team to win the outright league title since 1997, having accomplished that feat in 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2006 and 2007 and 2009. Eastern won the title in 1997 with a 7-1 record.
* In November and beyond, Eastern is 16-1 since 2010 and 25-4 since 2007. Since 2010, EWU is 32-3 after Oct. 1, including an 11-0 mark two years ago, 6-1 in 2011, 8-2 in 2012 and 7-0 thus far in 2013. The lone losses were a 43-26 home loss in 2011 versus Portland State, a 30-27 road setback at Southern Utah on Oct. 27, 2012 and a 45-42 playoff loss to Sam Houston State.
* Ranked for the 27th-consecutive time, Eastern remained third this week in The Sports Network Top 25 FCS Poll released Monday (Nov. 18). Eastern is behind top-ranked North Dakota State and Eastern Illinois. Other Big Sky schools in this week’s rankings include Montana (#5), Northern Arizona (#10), Montana State (#13) and Southern Utah (#20). Eastern is third in the FCS Coaches Poll, followed by Montana (#6), NAU (#12), MSU (#13) and SUU (#22).
* Reaching a milestone and equaling a school record against Montana on Oct 26, Eastern head coach Beau Baldwin is now 53-21 in five-plus seasons as a head coach (2008-13) and 37-10 in Big Sky Conference games. His .787 winning percentage in league games is the best-ever by an Eastern head coach and currently ranks sixth in the 50-year history of the Big Sky Conference. His 37 Big Sky victories are a school record, two better than the EWU head coach he previously served under, Paul Wulff (2000-2007). Baldwin’s .716 percentage overall is now eighth in league history.
* As a team, EWU is leading FCS in passing efficiency (190.4), and is fourth in total offense (531.4 per game), third in passing (350.5), 46th in rushing (180.9) and seventh in scoring (40.3). Defensively, EWU is 97th in total defense (440.8), 71st in rushing (178.5), 108th in passing (262.4) and 74th in scoring (27.9). In addition, the Eagles are the ninth-most efficient team in red zone offense (89.2 scoring percentage), fourth in third-down conversions (50.0 percent), fourth in passing yards per completion (15.7) and sixth in pass completion percentage (67.4 percent).
* Portland State features the second-best rushing offense in FCS with an average of 285.2, ranking just behind Cal Poly at 309.0. The Vikings are also third in total offense (534.8), 31st in passing offense (249.6) and 24th in scoring (34.4). Defensively, the Vikings are 85th in total defense (421.3), 46th in rushing (147.9), 114th in passing (273.4) and 63rd in scoring (26.2). Portland State is also first in FCS in passing yards per completion (16.6) and kickoff return defense (14.2 per return), and is second in fewest pass sacks allowed (0.45 per game, total of 5). Their three blocked punts this season ranks third in FCS. Individually, D.J. Adams is fifth in rushing yards per game (132.4) and fifth in rushing touchdowns (18). Kyle Loomis leads FCS in punting average (47.1) and Keiran McDonagh leads in passing yards per completion (16.9). David Edgerson is fifth in interceptions (0.5 per game with a total of 5.
* Eastern has outscored opponents 246-147 in the first half (119-59 in the first quarter) and have had leads at intermission in all of its wins. Eastern is 0-2 when it trails at halftime and the Eagles have a 197-160 scoring edge in the second half.
* The Eagles have already won a nailbiter in 2013, and have now won 12 games since 2010 when trailing or tied in the fourth quarter. Besides a 49-46 victory over 25th-ranked Oregon State in 2013, Eastern won three in 2012 (Montana, Montana State, UC Davis), two in 2011 and six in the 2010 national title season.
* Eastern’s 49-46 victory at No. 25 Oregon State on Aug. 31, 2013, was just the fourth time since the division was created in 1978 that a FCS (formerly known as I-AA) team defeated a ranked FBS opponent. The other times that feat occurred came in 1983 (Cincinnati def. #20 Penn State 14-3), 2007 (Appalachian State def. #5 Michigan 34-32) and 2010 (James Madison def. #13 Virginia Tech 21-16).
Player Fast Facts
* In just the last four games alone, Eastern sophomore wide receiver/kickoff returner Shaquille Hill has been involved in long plays of 44, 54, 68, 76, 80 and 86 yards – including four from sophomore quarterback Vernon “Big Play V.A.” Adams. Included were TD receptions of 68 and 76 yards against Montana State, and an 86-yard TD catch versus Montana. All three rank in the top 50 in school history, and the 86-yard catch is eighth. In all, Hill has 10 plays of at least 40 yards in his young career, including kickoff returns of 99, 93 and 80 yards. He had a non-scoring kickoff return of 80 yards against Idaho State on Nov. 2 and later scored on a 44-yard pass as he finished the game with 144 all-purpose yards on just three touches (two kickoff returns and one reception) for an average of nearly 50 yards per touch. One game earlier versus Montana, Hill had an 86-yard TD catch to rank as the eighth-longest in school history.
* Now 17-3 as a starter at EWU, Vernon Adams has 26 pass completions already in his career of at least 40 yards, including 17 for touchdowns. All but four of those have come this season. For the second-straight year, Adams was a finalist for Geico Play of the Year (winner to be announced Nov. 29).
* In the last four games, Vernon Adams has passed for 1,413 yards and 17 touchdowns. Adams completed his first 10 passes and finished 16-of-18 for 300 yards, no interceptions and a passing efficiency rating of 302.2 against Montana State on Nov. 9. He nearly broke the school record of 310.4 set by Eastern’s Mark Tenneson versus Sonoma State in 1992 (10-of-14/71 percent, 265 yards, 4 TDs, 0 Int.), which was broken earlier this season by Montana’s Jordan Johnson (322.3). For his efforts, Adams earned national offensive player of the week accolades for the third time this season, including two from The Sports Network. One game earlier, Adams passed for 432 yards and five touchdowns in a 55-34 win over Idaho State on Nov. 2 and he had the fifth-best performance in school history one week earlier with 457 against Montana.
* Cooper Kupp earned Freshman of the Week honors from The Sports Network for catching eight passes for 139 yards and two touchdowns against Cal Poly on Nov. 16, setting a pair of FCS records in the process. In the last five games, he has caught 46 passes for 804 yards and eight TDs. Kupp has had performances of 11, 11, 8, 8 and 8 catches in his last four games, with yardage totals of 168, 182, 205, 110 and 139. His 205 yards against Idaho State ranks as the sixth-most all-time at EWU. He has seven performances this season of at least 100 yards.
* Vernon Adams is ranked No. 1 again this week in passing efficiency in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision (191.4), which continues to rank as a school and Big Sky record while ranking fourth all-time in FCS. He has a 67.4 percent completion rate (227-of-337 to rank seventh in FCS), 3,602 yards (third), 41 touchdowns (second) and 10 interceptions for the season. dams is second in FCS in points responsible for with an average of 24.9 per game (total of 272 to rank second, with 41 TD passes, four rushing touchdowns and one two-point conversion). He is also leading FCS in total offense per game (369.9) and fourth in passing yards per game (327.5 per game).
* With at least one TD reception in all 11 games of his career thus far, redshirt freshman Cooper Kupp has 16 TD catches (second in FCS behind Eric Lora of Eastern Illinois with 17) on 68 catches this season – a TD for every 4.3 catches so far. The next-best freshman in FCS has seven receiving TDs. A candidate for the Jerry Rice Award given to the top Freshman in FCS, Kupp is averaging 18.1 yards per catch (68-1231). He is fifth in FCS and tops among freshmen in receiving yards per game (111.9), fourth in receiving yards and 24th in receptions per game (6.2).
* In other individual national rankings senior receiver Ashton Clark is 13th in punt returns with an average of 11.2 per return and a career-long of 30 against Idaho State. Clark is also 50th in receiving yards (75.7 per game, with a total of 833 to rank 42nd) and 48th in receptions (5.1 per game, with a total of 56). Sophomore Shaq Hill is 49th in all-purpose yards per game (117.7, with totals of 685 receiving and 490 on kickoff returns). Senior cornerback T.J. Lee, who is now tied for the school record for career forced fumbles with six, has three this season to rank 22nd in FCS in average per game (0.27). He also is 30th in fumble recoveries per game (0.27), with a total of three. Jake Miller is 19th in FCS in average per punt (42.7).
* Junior running back Quincy Forte has rushed for 305 yards and five touchdowns in his last three games, including back to back career days. He had 123 and two touchdowns against Montana State on Nov. 9, and one game earlier he had 119 rushing yards on just six carries (19.8 per rush) versus Idaho State. He had an 83-yard touchdown versus ISU that ranks as the ninth-longest rush in school history, and the longest since Taiwan Jones had a school-record 96-yarder at Idaho State on Oct. 3, 2009.
* Said Former Eagle Quarterback Matt Nichols, who wore jersey No. 16 and whose top single season passing yardage (3,830 and 3,744) and total offense marks (4,136 and 3,932) have or are about to be overtaken by Vernon Adams (3,602 passing, 4,069 total offense): “Vernon Adams should not have moved from No. 16 to No. 3 – that’s the only bad move he’s made so far.”
The Senior Class
Eastern’s 2013 roster includes 23 seniors, with 12 starting at least six games in 2013 for the Eagles (five on offense, seven on defense). The list also included the team’s starting kicker (Kevin Miller).
However, not expected to take part in Senior Day introductions for the Eagles this week will be linebacker Ronnie Hamlin and McKenzie Murphy. Despite being listed as a senior, Hamlin will eventually apply to the NCAA to receive his sixth year. After redshirting the 2009 season because of the bum knee, the injury also kept him from playing during Eastern’s national championship season in 2010. Murphy played his lone collegiate seasons in 2008 for the now-defunct Western Washington program and in 2011 for the Eagles, but recently received a waiver from the NCAA to play the remainder of this season (his sixth year out of high school). Murphy went through EWU’s senior introductions a year ago.
Those 23 seniors have combined for 772 games worth of experience, and had 353 starts between them. A total of 13 will finish their careers as four-year letterwinners. More importantly, they have helped Eastern win an unprecedented three Big Sky Conference titles in four seasons, 26-of-31 Big Sky Conference games and 39 games overall the last four seasons. A total of 18 were a part of EWU’s NCAA Division I Championship in 2010. By contrast last year’s 16 seniors combined for 617 games worth of experience and had 292 starts between them.
Below is the complete list of this year’s seniors with the
number of games played/started listed at the end of each
player’s roster information.
41 - J.C. Agen - Linebacker - 6-2 - 210 - Sr. - 3L* - Spokane, Wash. (Central Valley HS ’09) – 33/8
24 - ^Ronald Baines - Cornerback - 5-10 - 195 - Sr. - 3L* - Tacoma, Wash. (Mount Tahoma HS ’09) – 47/24
30 - Demitrius Bronson – Running Back - 5-10 - 210 - Sr. - 2L* - Kent, Wash. (Kentwood HS ’08 / Washington) – 27/9
70 - ^Steven Forgette – Offensive Guard - 6-4 - 300 - Sr. - 3L* - Vancouver, Wash. (Heritage HS ’09) – 43/42
85 - ^Zack Gehring – Tight End - 6-4 - 240 - Sr. - 3L* - Castle Rock, Wash. (Castle Rock HS ’09) – 46/30
92 - ^Will Katoa – Defensive Nose Tackle - 6-0 - 295 - Sr. - 3L* - Salt Lake City, Utah (Judge Memorial HS ’09) – 48/12
19 - Christian Hudnell - Cornerback - 6-0 - 185 - Sr. - 1L* - Sacramento, Calif. (Jesuit HS ’09 / Kentucky) – 4/1
83 - Cody Humphrey – Tight End - 6-5 - 260 - Sr. - 2L* - Hermiston, Ore. (Hermiston HS ’09) – 23/2
23 - Daniel Johnson – Wide Receiver - 5-10 - 190 - Sr. - 3L* - San Jose, Calif. (Valley Christian HS ’09) 31/2
1 - ^Anthony Larry – Defensive End - 6-3 - 250 - Sr. - 2L* - Sacramento, Calif. (Luther Burbank HS ’09) – 34/18
31 - ^T.J. Lee III – Cornerback - 5-9 - 190 - Sr. - 3L* - Seattle, Wash. (West Seattle HS ’09) – 45/31
68 - Kevin Miller - Kicker - 6-2 - 225 - Sr. - 3L* - Portland, Ore. (Centennial HS ’09) – 48
77 - ^Brandon Murphy – Offensive Guard - 6-4 - 305 - Sr. - 3L* - Albany, Ore. (West Albany HS ’09) – 48/34
25 - McKenzie Murphy - Safety - 5-9 - 190 - Sr. - 1L* - Spokane, Wash. (Ferris HS ’08 / Western Washington) – 13/0
46 - Jakob Pugsley – Defensive End - 6-3 - 235 - Sr. - 2L* - Newman Lake, Wash. (East Valley ’09) – 29/0
93 - ^Andru Pulu – Defensive Tackle - 6-2 - 290 - Sr. - 1L* - Federal Way, Wash. (Fed. Way HS ’09 / Washington) – 24/24
52 - Drew Reynolds – Offensive Guard - 6-1 - 300 - Sr. - 2L* - Tacoma, Wash. (Foss HS ’09) – 20/8
21 - Bo Schuetzle - Cornerback - 6-0 - 200 - Sr. - 3L* - Spokane, Wash. (Shadle Park HS ’09) – 48/2
12 - Anthony Vitto - Quarterback - 6-1 - 195 - Sr. - 3L* - Simi Valley, Calif. (Chaminade College Prep ’09) – 10/0
2013 Co-Captains . . .
4 - ^Allen Brown - Safety - 5-10 - 170 - Sr. - 3L* - Tacoma, Wash. (Foss HS ’09) – 48/34
15 - ^Ashton Clark – Wide Receiver - 5-11 - 185 - Sr. - 2L* - Vancouver, Wash. (Heritage HS ’09) – 38/13
39 - ^Ronnie Hamlin - Linebacker - 6-2 - 235 - Sr. - 2L* - Lacey, Wash. (Timberline HS ’09) – 36/33
66 - ^Ashton Miller - Center - 6-2 - 300 - Sr. - 3L* - Vancouver, Wash. (Evergreen HS ’09) - 29/26
^Has started at least six games in 2013.
Quoting Coach Baldwin
On Seniors: “To win league championships in three out of four years is unheard of at a lot of schools, and unprecedented in the history of Eastern football. They were the leaders in that accomplishment, and have helped us to where we are now. It’s a special group. We hear it a lot from other people how good of young men they are. They will be missed, but we are going to enjoy as much time as we have with them the rest of this year.”
On Portland State Offense: “They get into the pistol offense and involve their quarterbacks enough to keep you off balance. And they have one of the top three or four backs nationally in D.J. Adams because of what he is capable of. Portland State has great players and one of the best offensive lines they’ve had.”
On Winning Big Sky Title: “It’s hard to win one Big Sky title let alone three out of the last four years. That’s amazing and I’m just proud of all the people who are a part of making that happen.”
On Anthony Vitto: “There are a lot of schools in the country where he would be a starter. I know it’s hard on him sometimes because he wants to play. When he has the opportunities like this, he’s making the most of them. You see it at Oregon State, you saw it last week against Montana State and you definitely saw it in a big way today. I’m really proud of him and we’re lucky to have a player as a backup to Vernon that has the ability as a starter.”
On Sweeping Montana: “We are coming a long way. I have a lot of respect for those Montana programs like a lot of other programs. Those two Montana programs are huge, so to win the last four against them in back-to-back years is special (first time since 1992). It is a combination of a lot of things helping us to get to that point. I couldn’t be happier for all the people that are a part of it.”
On Eastern’s 500th Win All-Time in Victory Over MSU: “I can’t think of a better way (to have the 500th win). I just thank the fans, the guys that went out there and played, and our coaches. It was a total team effort, and the environment was awesome. I can’t think of a better way to win. Montana State is a very good football team. We were able to really play a great football game and finish, especially in the second half.”
On Getting His 50th EWU Win in Missoula: “It wasn’t anything I was thinking about before the game, but after the fact it was a pretty cool deal to end up hitting that 50th win in that stadium. I have so much respect for the Montana program and that atmosphere.”
On Importance of Winning in Missoula to Seniors: “Twice in your career you get an opportunity to play there. To get that victory for our seniors was special, and now our program has beaten Montana three of the last four years. It’s been a long time (since 1992) that Eastern has beaten Montana in back-to-back seasons. There are a lot of things from that victory that are special to our seniors and program.”
On Importance of Montana Win in FCS: “It was a huge league game and it had national implications. Whether we are from the same league or not, it was a game between two top 10 teams. Our players embrace coming into (tough) environments and love the challenge of that. We loved the challenge going into this and we knew it was going to be tough to find a way to win.”
On Vernon Adams: “People want to look at the big plays and those are great, but we have a player with guts to take shots and go for it. If he gets a pick or two, so be it. But he has the guts to go win games and stand in there. Sometimes when quarterbacks are so athletic like Vernon, they don’t get the credit for being a 68 percent passer and standing in the pocket and taking shots. That’s what I appreciate so much. He’s right up there with Matt Nichols for being the smartest quarterback I’ve had as a sophomore in terms of thinking quick, his understanding and getting things right on the field. It’s a lot of fun to coach that type of player.”
On Preseason Schedule: “This was definitely the toughest preseason schedule we’ve had since I’ve been here in terms of the first four games. But I invite it – I love it. It’s helped us be battle-tested because we’ve been in some serious wars. It’s tough and it’s a challenge. We were put on a stage on the road against one of the top teams at our level and now we have move forward in a very tough conference.”
On Being Fourth FCS School to Defeat a Ranked FBS Team: “It’s big and shines a light on our program, even more than before. I’m not going to undersell it – it’s huge for the program and what it does in recruiting and the image of who we are.”
On Victory Over No. 25 Oregon State: “I’m proud of our players. We’ve come up short before in games like this, but I’m proud when I see them out there fighting, not getting wide-eyed and attacking the situation. When things don’t go right, we want them to be ready to respond. And our team did that against a very good Oregon State football team. Winning the ballgame is huge, but I was just proud of how our team handled every situation that came up in the game.”
On Coaching Eagle Players: “The best part about coaching to me is working with 18 to 23-year-old student-athletes and getting a chance to make an impact in their lives. We get to watch them grow, and it’s fun to be a part of that process. The culture and attitude that has been built over the years has grown to a new level. We’ve had great players and leaders here before, but this group has learned from past teams and players on how to prepare in the offseason and what to do in the summer. The makeup and mental attitude of our players has grown. If you have that, you have a chance to be successful and the more enjoyable it is to coach.”
Defense (248 starts by 20 players): Allen Brown 34, Ronnie Hamlin 33, T.J. Lee 31, Ronald Baines 24, Andru Pulu 24, Anthony Larry 18, Cody McCarthy 16, Evan Day 14, Will Katoa 12, J.C. Agen 8, Tevin McDonald 8, Jordan Tonani 7, Miquiyah Zamora 7, Bo Schuetzle 2, Bo Schuetzle 2, Todd Raynes 2, Miles Weatheroy 2, Dylan Zylstra 2, Zach Bruce 1, Zackary Johnson 1, Christian Hudnell 1, Frank Cange 1.
Offense (295 starts by 25 players): Steven Forgette 42, Brandon Murphy 34, Zack Gehring 30, Ashton Miller 26, Clay DeBord 23, Vernon Adams 20, Quincy Forte 14, Ashton Clark 13, Cooper Kupp 11, Cory Mitchell 10, Cassidy Curtis 9, Demitrius Bronson 9, Jordan Talley 9, Drew Reynolds 8, Ryan Seto 7, Jake Withnell 7, Mario Brown 6, Shaq Hill 4, T.J. Boatright 2, Cody Humphrey 2, Daniel Johnson 2, Jase Butorac 2, Jake Rodgers 2, Jabari Wilson 2, Zach Wimberly 1.
* Only four positions had players making their first starts as Eagles against Oregon State, and two were manned by former starters in the Pac-12 Conference. Redshirt freshman Cooper Kupp started at wide receiver and redshirt freshman Jabari Wilson started at running back. Jake Rodgers, a 12-game starter at Washington State last season, started at right tackle in his Eagle starting debut. The other Eagle starting debut was by safety Tevin McDonald, who started 24 games the past two seasons at UCLA. Sophomore wide receiver Shaq Hill made the first start of his career in EWU’s second game of the season against Western Oregon, and offensive tackle Cassidy Curtis and fullback/tight end Zach Wimberly made their first starts at Toledo. Linebacker Miquiyah Zamora made the first start of his career against Weber State and responded with five tackles (1 1/2 for loss) and had his first career interception, which led to an EWU touchdown. Against North Dakota, safety Todd Raynes and defensive end Zackary Johnson made the first starts of their careers. Raynes had a team-high seven tackles with a pass broken up in his debut, and Johnson finished with three tackles. No starting debuts were made in the Southern Utah and Montana games, but safety Zach Bruce made his first career start against Idaho State. Eastern had two new cornerbacks start against Montana State – senior Bo Schuetzle made his first career start when T.J. Lee was moved to safety and Frank Cange started when Ron Baines was late for a meeting earlier in the day.
Safeties Allen Brown (hamstring) and Isaiah Jenkins (shoulder) both missed the Cal Poly game and are questionable for this week. Brown suffered his injury against Montana and has been out since. Running back Demitrius Bronson (foot) also missed the Cal Poly game, and he and fellow running back Jabari Wilson (hamstring) are listed as questionable for this week’s game versus Portland State. Quarterback Vernon Adams (shoulder strain) was injured on a touchdown pass to Cooper Kupp in the third quarter at Cal Poly, but was held out of the rest of the game for precautionary reasons and is probable this week. Offensive tackle T.J. Boatright (knee) was also injured against Cal Poly and is doubtful for the PSU game. Todd Raynes (hamstring) and linebacker J.C. Agen (quadriceps) played versus Cal Poly after missing the MSU and Idaho State games with injuries suffered against Montana. Nose tackle Will Katoa (knee) and offensive tackle Clay Debord (ankle) were also injured at Montana and missed the Idaho State game. Safety Tevin McDonald was lost for an indefinite period of time with a broken fibula suffered against Idaho State that required surgery. Wide receiver and kickoff returner Shaq Hill (knee sprain), who was injured against North Dakota and did not play versus Southern Utah, returned to play against Montana on Oct. 26 and had an 86-yard touchdown catch. Starting offensive tackle Jake Rodgers (knee sprain) and running back Jabari Wilson (shoulder) were both injured against Western Oregon on Sept. 7, but both returned to play against Montana after missing five games each. Running back Jalen Moore missed the North Dakota and Southern Utah games with a hip pointer and kidney stones. Defensive lineman Jordan Pulu had arthroscopic knee surgery on Aug. 29 and made his season debut against Weber State on Oct. 5. But he suffered a shoulder injury in that game and will have surgery. He is expected to apply for a medical hardship to receive his year of eligibility back. True freshman wide receiver Kendrick Bourne (ankle) missed the UND game but played against Southern Utah and caught a 31-yard TD pass. Offensive lineman Drew Reynolds (knee) also made his season debut against WSU after missing EWU’s first five games. Running back Demitrius Bronson (high ankle sprain) suited up versus Toledo, but sat out for the third-straight game. He carried five times and scored twice in his season debut against Sam Houston State on Sept. 28. Running back Quincy Forte (hamstring) missed the Oregon State game, but returned to rush for 99 yards against Western Oregon. Senior tight end Cody Humphrey suffered a dislocated patella in practice on Aug. 21 and required surgery, and is out for the season. As a result, defensive lineman Zach Wimberly was moved to tight end, and Ryan Seto will play as both a wide receiver and tight end. Before the season began, freshman All-America safety and Ferris HS graduate Jordan Tonani began surgical treatment for a hip ailment that will cost him the 2013 season. Tonani’s painful hip injury is called hip joint acetabular impingement, and the ailment requires surgery to both hips with six months of rehabilitation required for each. His first surgery on his left hip took place on July 29, and also included a labral tear that was repaired. He had the second surgery on his right hip on Sept. 16. He would have competed for a starting position at safety, but should return fully healthy in spring 2014.
More Player Notes
* Currently on the 2013 Buck Buchanan Watch List, senior linebacker Ronnie Hamlin has 308 tackles already in his 36-game EWU career (33 starts) to rank ninth in school history. He had 10 tackles in his last outing versus Cal Poly (11/16/13), which was the 13th time in his career he has had double figures in tackles. Hamlin also has four career interceptions, and his momentum-changing 77-yard return for a touchdown against North Dakota (10/12/13) was the 10th-longest in school history. With UND driving for a potential game-tying score late in the third quarter, he leaped high to snag the third interception of his career, ran over one would-be tackler, then returned it down the sideline for his first pick-six as an Eagle. He also had a diving interception against Idaho State (11/2/13) to squelch an ISU drive and lead to an EWU TD and 45-27 lead. Despite being listed as a senior, Hamlin will eventually apply to the NCAA to receive his sixth year. After redshirting the 2009 season because of the bum knee, the injury also kept him from playing during Eastern’s national championship season in 2010. If he does get the extra year back, he could challenge the school record of 432 tackles set by 2010 Buck Buchanan Award winner J.C. Sherritt. Hamlin earned All-America honors in 2012 from Phil Steele Publications (fourth team) and was a first team All-Big Sky Conference selection. He had 136 tackles in 2012 to rank fifth in school history, and his average of 9.71 per game ranked 31st in FCS and fourth in the Big Sky.
* Boise, Idaho, native Cody McCarthy had a career-high 12 tackles versus Montana State on Nov. 9 and 11 one game earlier against Idaho State. He now has four performances of at least 10 stops in his 30-game career (16 as a starter). He has career totals of 166 tackles, 2 1/2 sacks and two passes broken up.
* Senior cornerback T.J. Lee had a trio of passes broken up at Idaho State on Nov. 9, giving him 21 in his career and moving into seventh in school history. He had a career-high 14 tackles and the fourth interception of his now 45-game career (31 as a starter) one game later against Montana State in his first-ever start at safety for the Eagles.
* Safety Allen Brown missed the first game of his Eastern career at Idaho State because of a hamstring injury suffered versus Montana. Nearing the school record of 51 games played, he had played in 48 of a possible 48 games in his career (34 as a starter) until the ISU game, and also missed EWU’s games versus Montana State and Cal Poly.
* Junior defensive end Evan Day has had a sack in five-straight games from Oct. 12 to Nov. 9, giving him five on the season and 13 in his 34-game career (14 as a starter).
* Team co-captains for the 2013 season include a quartet of seniors from high schools in the state of Washington -- center Ashton Miller, senior wide receiver Ashton Clark, senior safety Allen Brown and junior linebacker Ronnie Hamlin. The players were selected by a vote of their teammates.
* Senior cornerback T.J. Lee now has 227 tackles, four interceptions, 21 passes broken up and 3 1/2 sacks in his 45-game career (31 starts). He is just the 35th Eagle in school history to have 200 career tackles (currently ranked 19th). He shares the school record with five other Eagles for most career forced fumbles with six, and his 21 passes broken up ranks seventh. Three times in his career he has forced and recovered the same fumble, with two of them occurring on quarterback sacks. One of those three came this season against North Dakota (10/12/13) when he also finished with six tackles and a pass broken up. Lee earned All-America honors in 2012 from The Sports Network (second team), and was also honored on the College Sporting News “Fabulous 50” All-America squad. He piled up some impressive statistics in 2012, ranking third on the team with 90 tackles and finishing with 11 passes broken up to rank 10th in school history. His average of 6.4 tackles per game ranked 29th in the Big Sky and his total of 11 passes broken up were second. The two-time first team All-Big Sky selection also had 2 1/2 sacks, nine total tackles for loss, an interception, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. As a sophomore in 2011, Lee was a first team All-Big Sky selection, finishing the season with 48 tackles, a pair of interceptions and one pass broken up.
* Senior offensive guard Steven Forgette earned honorable mention All-America honors in 2012 from the College Sports Journal and second team All-Big Sky accolades. He was also named to the Big Sky Conference All-Academic team. Despite missing most of the 2011 season because of an injury, Forgette’s 42 career starts are the most among all Eastern players. The only game he didn’t start in his 43-game career was to allow a senior to start on Senior Day in 2010. Forgette helped EWU rank seventh in the FCS in 2012 in passing yards per game (318.9), 14th overall in total offense (442.0) and 17th in scoring (33.7). He started all 14 Eastern games at left offensive guard a year after breaking his fibula against Montana (9/17/11) and missing the rest of the season. He earned honorable mention All-Big Sky honors as a redshirt freshman in 2010 when the Eagles won the NCAA Division I title.
* Vernon Adams currently has a career passing efficiency rating of 179.5 which ranks as the school record (64.9 percent, 5,563 yards, 61 TD, 18 INT). A starter in 20 of the 23 games he has played in his career, Adams has a career average of 241.9 passing yards per game to currently fifth all-time at EWU. His 61 TD passes are already fourth, his 5,563 yards are sixth and his 6,372 yards of total offense are fifth. He is now 17-3 as a starter, with his lone losses coming against Southern Utah in 2012 and Toledo and Sam Houston State in 2013. Adams was selected as the Freshman of the Year on the College Sporting News “Fabulous 50” All-America team in 2012, and was also on the College Sports Journal Freshman All-America squad. Adams was also one of 20 players on the ballot for the Jerry Rice Award, given to the top freshman in FCS by The Sports Network (he finished sixth in the voting, which occurred prior to the playoffs). Adams ranked fourth in FCS in passing efficiency (160.80), and was the only freshman in the top 24 of the rankings. His efficiency rating also ranked fourth all-time in school history. In nine games as a starter and three as a sub, he completed 60.9 percent of his passes for 1,961 yards, 20 touchdowns and eight interceptions.
* The Eagles finished seventh in FCS in passing offense (318.9 per game) in 2012, as returning starter Vernon Adams combined with Kyle Padron to lead EWU to the school record for passing yards. The Eagles finished with 4,469 yards, breaking the previous record of 4,102 yards in 2005. Padron started five games and played six others as a sub, and completed 59.1 percent of his passes for a team-leading 2,491 yards, 17 TDs and seven interceptions, and ranked 29th in FCS in passing yards per game (226.5). In back-to-back games in the FCS Playoffs, each had a school-record six touchdown passes -- Padron versus Illinois State (12/8/12) in the quarterfinals and Adams against Sam Houston State (12/15/12) in the semifinals. Adams completed 14-of-26 passes for 364 yards – all after intermission --- as EWU scored 42 points in the second half to rally from a 35-0 halftime deficit and nearly pull off an improbable rally.
* Despite standing just 5-foot-10, 170 pounds, senior safety Allen Brown played in 48 of 48 games in his career (34 as a starter) until missing the Idaho State game (11/2/13) with a hamstring injury. He is just three games behind the school record of 51 shared by three players. He has career totals of 218 tackles, four interceptions and 14 passes broken up. He is the 34th Eagle in school history to have 200 career tackles, and currently ranks 24th. He needs four passes broken up to rank on EWU’s top 10 list in that category. He has 34 career starts, ranking first on the defense and second overall (Steven Forgette has 41). At the end of spring practices, Brown was the recipient on defense of the “Iron Eagle” Award for achievements in the off-season in strength and conditioning and the classroom. He finished second on the team with 91 tackles in 2012 to help him earn second team All-Big Sky honors. Brown was also second on the team with seven passes broken up to go along with a pair of forced fumbles. His average of 6.5 tackles per game in 2012 ranked 28th in the Big Sky. He was also second on the team with seven passes broken up to go along with a pair of forced fumbles.
* Redshirt freshman Shaq Hill currently has the sixth-best career kickoff return average in school history (25.5) and is fifth in kickoff return yards (1,402). He was a member of the College Sports Journal Freshman All-America team and earned honorable mention All-Big Sky Conference honors in 2012. Hill, who had a 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown against North Dakota (10/6/12), finished ranked 17th in FCS with an average of 26.8 yards per kickoff return. On EWU’s single season leaders lists, he finished the 2012 season ranked in the top 10 in kickoff returns (third, 34), kickoff return yards (second, 912) and kickoff return average (10th, 26.8). As a backup wide receiver, he caught seven passes for 66 yards. Hill would have had another TD in the FCS Playoffs against Illinois State (12/8/12), but the video replay official determined he dropped the ball a yard shy of the end zone and it became a non-scoring 93-yard return. He earned honorable mention All-Big Sky Conference honors. As a team, Eastern was 14th in FCS with a 23.5 average, as Cory Mitchell added a non-scoring 67-yard return in the Illinois State (12/8/12) game.
* The 43.4 career punting average of sophomore Jake Miller currently ranks as a school record, placing him ahead of the 42.3 average of Jesse Nicassio (2002-03). He has had 24 punts of 50 yards or more in his career and 11 of at least 55. He owns nine punts ranked in the top 35 in school history, with boots of 74, 66, 59 (twice) and 57 (five times). Named to the Big Sky Conference All-Academic team in 2012, Miller had a school-record 74-yard punt versus Washington State (9/8/12), breaking the previous record of 71 set in 2006 by Ryan Donckers. His best in 2013 was a 66-yarder (seventh in school history). Miller’s average of 43.3 yards per punt in 2012 ranks third all-time in EWU history, just behind his No. 2 ranking with a 44.2 average in 2011 (the school record is 44.4). Of his 40 punts in 2012, six were for at least 50 yards and 15 were downed inside the opponent 20-yard line.
* Ronnie Hamlin’s long hair has been a trademark of his, and a friendly wager between teammates lasted three years. During the 2010 season, Hamlin and safety Jeff Minnerly challenged each other to see who could go the longest without cutting their hair. Linebacker Zach Johnson was also in on the wager, but dropped out after EWU won the NCAA Division I title. Minnerly eventually cut his hair on Dec. 17, 2012 -- just two days after his career and the 2012 season concluded -- and donated the hair to Locks of Love.
* The top plays and honors of sophomore quarterback Vernon Adams have been encapsulated in a new web site located at www.BigPlayVA.com. Featured are some of the top plays by Adams, including his incredible scramble and touchdown throw against Sacramento State on Oct. 20, 2012, which was one of eight finalists for the GEICO Play of the Year. His game-winning touchdown run against Oregon State on Aug. 31, 2013, is also on the site. He had a school-record of 518 yards of total offense in the 49-46 upset over the Beavers in only the fourth-ever win by a NCAA Football Championship Subdivision school over a ranked member of the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision. The many accolades Adams won as a result of the OSU victory are also featured, as well as an interview on the Jim Rome Show. His complete bio, statistics and information on EWU tickets and the Gateway Project are also prominent.
* Junior safety Tevin McDonald had 135 tackles in 27 career games (24 as a starter) at UCLA, plus four interceptions and 14 passes broken up. He is the son of six-time NFL All-Pro safety Tim McDonald, who is currently the defensive backs coach for the New York Jets where he coaches former Eagle Isaiah Trufant (2002-05). Tevin’s brother, Tim, Jr., (goes by T.J.), was a senior All-America safety at USC in 2012 and was drafted in the third round of the 2013 NFL Draft by St. Louis. Tevin was with Eastern during 2013 spring practices after getting dismissed from UCLA’s squad for violating team policy.
* Another talented transfer joining the Eagles in 2013 is offensive lineman Jake Rodgers, a 12-game starter at Washington State last fall. He started at right guard in the team’s season-opener at BYU, then started at left guard in WSU’s 24-20 win over Eastern Washington. He started a total of three games at right guard (BYU, UNLV, Colorado), one at left guard (EWU), five at right tackle (Oregon, Oregon State, California, Stanford, Utah) and the final three games of the season at left tackle (UCLA, Arizona State, Washington).
* Lost for the 2013 season with a painful hip injury that required surgery to both hips, Jordan Tonani had a sensational redshirt freshman season for the Eagles in 2012. As an injury replacement for senior safety Jeff Minnerly, Tonani earned a spot on the College Sports Journal Freshman All-America squad and was awarded with honorable mention All-Big Sky honors. He started seven games and finished the year sixth on the team with 68 tackles, and also had a team-leading three interceptions with five passes broken up and a fumble recovery. In one of many impressive performances during his debut season, Tonani’s 21-yard interception return for a touchdown with 11:15 to play became the winning points in a 27-24 victory over second-ranked Montana State (10/13/12). 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.
* For the second time this season, sophomore quarterback and Walter Payton Award candidate Vernon Adams earned National Player of the Week honors from College Sports Madness for his performance against Montana on Oct. 26. He also repeated as a College Sporting News National All Star and one six recipients of Beyond Sports Network FCS Offensive Player of the Week, in addition to earning FCS Offensive Player of the Week accolades from USA Football. He completed 27-of-40 passes for a career-high 457 yards, ranking as the fifth-most in school history. His six TDs tied the school record set on five previous occasions, including once by Adams in the second half alone of last year’s loss in the semifinals of the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision Playoffs.
* Redshirt freshman Cooper Kupp earned Co-Freshman of the Week honors from The Sports Network for his 11-catch, 182-yard receiving performance against Montana on Oct. 26. He was also the FCS Wide Receiver Performer of the Week as selected by College Performance Awards. In back-to-back games versus Southern Utah on Oct. 19 and against Montana, Kupp had 11 catches to equal the 12th-best in school history tied with 10 others, including teammate Ashton Clark with 11 grabs versus SUU a year ago. Kupp finished with 168 yards and a score against the Thunderbirds and versus the Grizzlies he had two touchdowns and 182 yards to rank 18th all-time at EWU. Kupp had five catches for 119 yards and two touchdowns in his debut as an Eagle against Oregon State on Aug. 31. He spent part of the summer in 2013 working at the Manning Passing Academy as a college counselor/coach. While in high school he previously attended the camp, which is run by Archie Manning, the father of NFL quarterbacks Eli and Peyton Manning. Archie is a former New Orleans Saints teammate of Cooper’s grandfather, Jake Kupp.
* McKenzie Murphy, a safety on last year’s Eagle squad and former player on the now-defunct Western Washington football program, applied for and was granted a waiver by the NCAA to play the remainder of the season for the Eagles. He was granted the waiver for personal circumstances that were not within his control, and was given the ruling on Nov 8. He made his season debut at Cal Poly on Nov. 16 and had three tackles. In his sixth academic year since graduating in 2008 from Ferris High School in Spokane, Wash., Murphy played the 2008 season at Western, which dropped its program the following January. He stayed at Western and eventually received his degree in accounting, and is now pursuing his master’s degree at EWU in computer science. Murphy, who turned 24 on Oct. 20, transferred to EWU in January 2012 and played for EWU that fall. Despite missing two games with a broken thumb that required surgery and one with a concussion, he played in 11 games as a backup safety and had 13 tackles and a pair of interceptions. One of his picks was against Southern Utah when he was playing with a heavily-padded cast. While at Ferris, Murphy was an Associated Press first team All-State selection and was the Greater Spokane League Defensive MVP. He had 120 tackles and three interceptions as a senior. Murphy said he originally started the appeal process in the summer to get the waiver, but an academic internship conflicted with early-season practices. He said the NCAA responded quickly upon presenting his final documentation, and within 24 hours was eligible again. “I wanted to progress my career outside of football, and I had time constraints with the internship that wouldn’t allow me to play,” Murphy said. “But when the injuries starting occurring, the coaches and I started joking about my eligibility and I completed the appeal.”
* Sophomore quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. and several other Eagles helped at the Russell Wilson Passing Academy in Spokane this past summer. Adams and Wilson – the starting quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks -- are similar in stature and ability, and will continue to draw comparisons as Adams’ career progresses. Adams, in fact, is now wearing jersey No. 3 for the Eagles – the same number Wilson wears -- after donning No. 16 as a redshirt freshman last season. The switch is unrelated to Wilson -- Adams wore No. 3 in high school and asked for that number after it became available when wide receiver Greg Herd graduated.
* A total of 15 Eastern players were honored on preseason All-America lists, All-Big Sky Conference teams and positional rankings released this summer by NCAA Football Championships Subdivision media outlets. Preseason All-America accolades were received by cornerback T.J. Lee III, offensive lineman Steven Forgette and linebacker Ronnie Hamlin, who was also named to the watch list for the Buck Buchanan Award presented by The Sports Network to the top defensive player in FCS.
More Team Notes
* The Eagles registered their 500th victory all-time when the third-ranked Eagles beat fourth-ranked Montana State at Roos Field on Nov. 10. Now in its 105th year of football, Eastern is 500-401-23 (.554) in 924 games. Eastern’s game at North Dakota on Oct. 12 was Eastern’s 200th Big Sky Conference game since joining the league in 1987. As the Big Sky celebrates its 50th anniversary this season, the Eagles are in their 27th year as a member and have a current record of 119-85 (.583).
* When the No. 3 Eagles played No. 4 Montana State on Nov. 9, only one other regular season game in EWU history has matched two higher-ranked FCS teams. And that came earlier this season when the No. 2 Eagles fell at No. 4 Sam Houston State 49-34. Until this season, the previous biggest game of such magnitude came last year when second-ranked MSU lost at home 27-24 to the sixth-ranked Eagles. And in 12 of the last 18 seasons Eastern has entered the Montana game with both teams nationally-ranked, but the highest collective rankings were 13 this year when the third-ranked Eagles beat the 10th-ranked Grizzlies 42-37 in Missoula, and 14 in 2005 when the No. 12 Eagles beat No. 2 Montana 34-20 in Missoula. The previous biggest non-conference game in school history was in 1992 when the 18th-ranked Eagles lost at No. 3 Northeast Louisiana (now Louisiana-Monroe) 41-31. In the FCS Playoffs, Eastern was top-ranked when it defeated fifth-ranked Delaware 20-19 in the 2010 Championship Game. In last year’s EWU-SHSU matchup in the semifinals of the FCS Playoffs, the Eagles were fourth and Sam Houston was fifth.
* Eastern had a school-record 743 yards of offense in EWU’s 55-34 victory over Idaho State Nov. 2, with 432 through the air and 311 on the ground. The Eagles broke the previous record of 740 set in 1997 against Rocky Mountain. The coach for EWU in that game was Mike Kramer, now the head coach at ISU. Eastern’s 311 rushing yards were the most for the Eagles in their last 117 games dating back to a 331-yard performance against Idaho State on Sept. 25, 2004, in a 47-22 win.
* Eastern, which ranked fourth in the final regular season Sports Network Top-25 poll and was seeded second in the playoffs, finished the 2012 season 11-3. It was the fourth 10+ win in school history (joining the 2010, 1997 and 1967 squads), and came on the heels of EWU’s sixth Big Sky Conference Championship in football. Eastern entered the 2013 season ranked fourth in The Sports Network preseason Top-25 poll, and was ranked third by the coaches.
* The Eagles are one of just five schools in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision to advance to the playoffs six times in the last nine seasons (2004-2012), and EWU will add to that this year. Eastern’s 2012 season ended with a 45-42 loss to Sam Houston State in the semifinals, denying the Eagles a repeat trip to Texas to play for the NCAA Division I title they won in 2010.
* Among the returning letterwinners are seven starters on offense and 5 1/2 on defense, as well as the school’s punter and kickoff specialist. Three All-Americans (linebacker Ronnie Hamlin, cornerback T.J. Lee, offensive guard Steven Forgette) and three others who earned Freshman All-America accolades (quarterback Vernon Adams, safety Jordan Tonani and return specialist Shaq Hill) are among the returning players. Tonani, a seven game starter in 2012, will miss the 2013 season because of hip surgery.
* Eastern head coach Beau Baldwin is back for his sixth season at the helm after being selected as one of 20 coaches on the voting list for the 2012 Eddie Robinson Award, given to the national coach of the year in FCS. He finished fifth in the voting, and was also the Big Sky Conference Coach of the Year for the first time. Baldwin has now been a part of four Big Sky Conference championships as either an Eastern assistant coach (2004, 2005) or head coach (2010, 2012). In addition, he has been a part of five FCS Playoff berths – two as an assistant (2004, 2005) and three in four seasons as head coach (2009, 2010, 2012). In receiving the Big Sky Coach of the Year honor for the first time, Baldwin is the fourth coach in school history to win the award. His predecessor, Paul Wulff, won in 2001, 2004 and 2005. Current Idaho State head coach Mike Kramer won in 1997 and Dick Zornes was Eastern’s first in 1992. The Eagles won league titles and advanced to the playoffs in all of those years except for 2001. Baldwin coached in his 100th Eastern game when the Eagles rallied to beat Montana 32-26 earlier in the 2012 season.
Eagles in the Playoffs
* Eastern will be making its 10 appearance in the playoffs in 2013. The other appearances for the Eagles came in 1985, 1992, 1997, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2010 and 2012. With a 6-5 record during an injury-ravaged season in 2011, Eastern fell a victory shy of making its first back-to-back-to-back appearances. Through 2012, EWU’s nine berths ranked the Eagles among a select group of 20 schools with at least that many berths.
* For the third time in school history, the 2012 Eagles advanced to the semifinals of the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision Playoffs. Eastern defeated Wagner (29-19) and #16 Illinois State (51-35) in the first two rounds, then fell to #5 Sam Houston State (45-42) to finish 11-3 on the season. Eastern hosted all three games at Roos Field in Cheney, Wash., and also hosted three games in 2010 (Roos Field) and 1997 (Albi Stadium in Spokane). The Eagles received the No. 2 seed in the playoffs, with eventual champion North Dakota State getting the top seed, followed by EWU, Montana State, Old Dominion and Georgia Southern. 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.
* Eastern has now advanced to the semifinals in the FCS Playoffs three times (1997, 2010, 2012), and has won its opener six times (1985, 1997, 2004, 2007, 2010, 2012). The Eagles have an 11-8 record in nine playoff appearances (1985, 1992, 1997, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2012). Only 15 teams have made more playoff appearances than the Eagles. The 2012 season marked EWU’s sixth appearance in the quarterfinals, and 2010 was EWU’s first appearance in the championship game.
* Eastern has had six playoff berths in a nine-year span (2004-12), ranking the Eagles as one of only five schools among 121 in FCS to accomplish that feat. The only other four teams to have qualified six of the last nine years are Appalachian State (2005-06-07-08-09-10-11-12), Montana (2004-05-06-07-08-09-11), New Hampshire (2004-05-06-07-08-09-10-11-12) and Southern Illinois (2004-05-06-07-08-09).
* Seeded fifth, Eastern won four-straight games to win the 2010 NCAA Division I National Championship. The top-ranked Eagles defeated #9 Southeast Missouri State (37-17), #25 North Dakota State (38-31 in overtime) and defending champion #10 Villanova (41-31) in three home playoff games, then defeated #5 Delaware (20-19) in the championship game on Jan. 7, 2011, in Frisco, Texas. Quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell was selected as the game’s Most Outstanding Player after throwing three touchdowns passes in the final 16:48 as EWU rallied from a 19-0 deficit.
* In 2009, the 13th-ranked Eagles lost at No. 12 Stephen F. Austin 44-33 in the first round. In 2007, the Eagles handed second-seeded and No. 3 ranked McNeese State its first loss of the year in a 44-15 first-round victory. Eastern then lost in the quarterfinals at two-time defending champion Appalachian State. In 2004, Eastern defeated No. 1 ranked and top-seeded Southern Illinois 35-31 in the first round and then lost 35-34 to Sam Houston State in the quarterfinal round in EWU’s first-ever playoff game at Roos Field (formerly Woodward Field) in Cheney, Wash. In both 2004 and 2007, Eastern entered the playoffs ranked 14th nationally.
* Until 2004, Eastern hadn’t appeared in the FCS playoffs since 1997 when the Eagles advanced to the semifinals where it lost to Youngstown State 25-14 at Albi Stadium in Spokane, Wash. Eastern played two early-round games at Albi, defeating Northwestern State 40-10 and Western Kentucky 38-21. Western Kentucky was coached by Jack Harbaugh, whose sons Jim and John are the first pair of brothers to serve as NFL head coaches and face off in a Super Bowl (XLVII on Feb. 3, 2013)
* Eastern also participated in the playoffs in 1985 (won at Idaho 42-38 and lost at Northern Iowa 17-14) and 1992 (lost at Northern Iowa 17-14). The school’s only other postseason experience came in 1967 when Eastern advanced to the NAIA Championship game where it lost to Fairmont State 28-21. Eastern has won three previous national titles, but none in head-to-head competition or at the NCAA Division I level. Eastern won the 1977 NAIA wrestling title, the 1982 NCAA Division II men’s cross country championship and the 1970 Class II national championship for women’s collegiate gymnastics programs.
Here is a complete list of EWU’s FCS playoff games (EWU
received a first-round bye in 2010, the first year the playoffs
were expanded to 20 teams):
2012 – Sam Houston State – L, 42-45 (Semifinals/Cheney)
2012 – Illinois State – W, 51-35 (Quarterfinals/Cheney)
2012 – Wagner – W, 29-19 (Second Round/Cheney)
2010 - Delaware - W, 20-19 (Championship/Frisco, Texas)
2010 - Villanova - W, 41-31 (Semifinals/Cheney)
2010 - North Dakota State - W, 38-31 in OT (Quarterfinals/Cheney)
2010 - Southeast Missouri State - W, 37-17 (Second Round/Cheney)
2009 - at Stephen F. Austin - L, 33-44 (First Round)
2007 - at Appalachian State - L, 35-38 (Quarterfinals)
2007 - at McNeese State - W, 44-15 (First Round)
2005 - at Northern Iowa - L, 38-41 (First Round)
2004 - Sam Houston State - L, 34-35 (Quarterfinals/Cheney)
2004 - at Southern Illinois - W, 35-31 (First Round)
1997 - Youngstown State - L, 14-25 (Semifinals/Spokane)
1997 - Western Kentucky - W, 38-21 (Quarterfinals/Spokane)
1997 - Northwestern State - W, 40-10 (First Round/Spokane)
1992 - at Northern Iowa - L, 14-17 (First Round)
1985 - at Northern Iowa - L, 14-17 (Quarterfinals)
1985 - at Idaho - W, 42-38 (First Round)