No. 1 Eagles Warm-Up For No. 25 Huskies with 41-9 Victory
Led by senior Mario Brown and junior Vernon Adams Jr., Eastern scores the first four times they have the ball and roll to win over NAIA member Montana Western
It was all business from the start for the Eastern Washington University football team, but a bit sloppy after that.
Big first halves for senior running back Mario Brown and junior quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. helped the Eagles open a 27-0 lead and the Eagles went on to a 41-9 victory over NAIA member Montana Western Saturday (Aug. 30) at Roos Field in Cheney, Wash.
Eastern warmed-up for a Sept. 6 meeting at Washington by rolling up 583 yards of offense, including 291 in the first half. In leading Eastern to a 41-9 lead in the third quarter, Adams (370 passing, eight rushing) and Brown (83 rushing) had accounted for 461 of EWU's 467 yards to that point.
"The win is good because we can come back 2-0 knowing we have a long way to go," said Eastern head coach Beau Baldwin, who wasn't pleased with the team's sloppiness that included three lost fumbles and inconsistency.
Won-Lost Records . . .
The Eagles are now 2-0 while the Bulldogs fell to 1-1. Both teams opened the college football season on Aug. 23 – the Eagles beat Sam Houston State 56-35 while Montana Western beat Montana Tech 38-6.
What It Means . . .
Eastern held out four starters for precautionary reasons, but the Eagles expect to be at mostly full strength when they step up a level to play Washington of the Pac-12 Conference next week. Eastern and the Huskies, who defeated Hawaii 17-16 in their opener, could both be in the national rankings in their respective divisions next week. Eastern was the No. 1 ranked team in The Sports Network NCAA Football Championship Subdivision preseason poll and the Huskies were ranked 25th in the preseason in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision.
What's Next . . .
After opening the season with a two-game homestand, Eastern won't return home again until taking on Idaho State on Oct. 4 on Hall of Fame Day at Eastern. Eastern will play at Washington in Seattle on Sept. 6 in a rematch of a 2011 game in which EWU's upset bid came up just short in a 30-27 loss. It was the first-ever meeting between the two regional foes. The new coach for the Huskies is Chris Petersen, and among his assistants are former Eagle coaches Jimmy Lake (also a former Eagle player), Rich Rasmussen and Pete Kwiatkowski. Washington finished 9-4 overall and 5-4 in the Pac-12 Conference a year ago, and defeated BYU 31-16 in the Fight Hunger Bowl.
Tweet of the Game . . .
Keys to Game . . .
The Eagles scored the first four times they had the ball, and held the Bulldogs scoreless on their first four. The resulting 27-0 lead helped eventually result in Eastern's bench to get significant playing time, plus lessened the effect of four Eagles missing the game for precautionary reasons because of injuries (linebacker Ronnie Hamlin, wide receiver Cooper Kupp, center Jase Butorac, running back Quincy Forte).
Top Performers . . .
Senior Mario Brown had 83 yards on just nine carries (9.2 per carry) and scored once. He also returned three kickoffs for 91 yards and caught one pass for nine yards, giving him 183 all-purpose yards on the night.
Junior Vernon Adams Jr. completed 28-of-31 passes for 370 yards and five touchdowns in less than three quarters of action for a passing efficiency rating of 243.8. In the first half alone, Adams was 17-of-19 for 198 yards and three touchdowns.
Key Stats . . .
The Eagle defense allowed just two scores on 13 Montana Western possessions, and forced three turnovers (interceptions by Rashad Wadood and Isaiah Jenkins, and a fumble forced by Miquiyah Zamora and recovered by Todd Raynes) The offense scored the first four times they had the ball, and scored on six of 12 possessions with three lost fumbles.
Turning Point . . .
Ahead 7-0 in the first quarter, Eagle safety Tevin McDonald broke-up a pass on a fourth-down play in Eastern territory. Eastern's offense turned that into a 68-yard drive and the Eagles rolled to a 27-0 advantage early in the second quarter.
Team Highlights . . .
* The Eagles converted their first seven third-down conversions on the day, all with Vernon Adams at the helm. The Eagles finished 9-of-12. Montana Western was 2-of-14.
* Eastern's 583 yards of offense is the 23rd-most in school history. Last week's 624 yards against Sam Houston State was ninth.
Milestones & Records . . .
* Junior Vernon Adams Jr. is now 22-4 as a starter at Eastern. He has 84 touchdowns in his Eastern career, tying him with Erik Meyer (2002-05) for second in school history and eighth all-time in the Big Sky Conference. The school record is 96 (second in league history) set by Matt Nichols (2006-09). Adams now has 7,627 career yards, moving him from fifth to third in school history behind Meyer (10,261) and Nichols (12,616). Adams has had 14 performances of at least 300 yards in 29 career games.
* The Eagles are 26-4 all-time at "The Inferno," but won't play again at Roos Field until Oct. 4.
* Eastern is now 9-0 all-time versus Montana Western. The Eagles and Bulldogs met seven times when both schools were members of the NAIA in the 1960's and 1970's, and the Eagles won all seven. Coupled with a 52-13 Eagle victory in 2007, Eastern has won all nine meetings by an average score of 37-10.
Notables . . .
* Sophomore Kendrick Bourne caught six passes for 89 yards and a pair of scores, giving him four TD catches already this season. He now has 15 career catches and six of them have gone for scores.
* Senior running Cody Hecker added 49 rushing yards on five carries, including a 25-yarder in which he hurdled not just one, but two defenders. See it here at: http://youtu.be/eHUiXPbdio0. The Eagles finished with 165 rushing yards and a 5.7 average per rush.
* The Eagles are now a perfect 11-of-11 in the red zone after going 4-of-4 versus the Bulldogs and a perfect 7-of-7 against Sam Houston State.
Head Coach Beau Baldwin Comments . . .
Overall Thoughts: "We were sloppy. I don't make too many judgments until I watch film, but I think there were a lot of sloppy errors. We have a long way to go if we want to go to Seattle and compete."
On Tempo of Game: "Honestly, it just had a lot of sloppiness. I give Montana Western credit -- I thought they tackled great and competed. I give them that, but at the same time we made a lot of unforced errors on certain things we were doing. It is one thing if the other team is making plays, which they did a good job with at times. But sometimes there were unforced errors where we have to be sharper. It will be a gut check for us next week."
On Playing More Reserves: "It is huge for our depth. You never know because some of those guys we got in could be starting at some point, which is part of the reason you want to be able to do that. It doesn't matter if some of our guys go out, in my opinion we still have to play a cleaner game overall."
On Positive of the Win: "I am not looking at the end result. I am looking play-by-play what we look like as a team regardless of what the scoreboard says, and we are a long way away from consistency. That is what we have to work towards. We are young in some spots, but there is not enough time to be young anymore. We have some guys coming up that we are going to play for the rest of the season, so we have to go."