No. 18 Eagles Host No. 11 Vikings With Playoff Implications

No. 18 Eagles Host No. 11 Vikings With Playoff Implications

Now 8-2 on the season and with a glowing resume, Portland State returns to same locale as season-opening victory over Washington State

Complete Weekly Release in .pdf format


2015 Eagle Football

#18 Eastern Washington University "Eagles"
versus
#11 Portland State University "Vikings"

Saturday, Nov. 21, 2015 • 2:05 p.m. Pacific
Roos Field (8,600) • Cheney, Washington


EWU Coach: Beau Baldwin (Central Washington '96)
School Record: 73-29/50-13 Big Sky Conference (8th Season)
Career Record: 83-32 (9th 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 and 12-3 in 2013)
2015: 6-4/5-2 Big Sky
2014: 11-3/7-1 Big Sky (OUTRIGHT CHAMPIONS; FCS Playoffs)
Last Game: #22 Montana 57, #10 EWU 16 (Nov. 14 in Missoula, Montana)
TV:
Regionally on SWX (Sam Adams/Bill Ames).
Webcast:
www.watchbigsky.com
Radio:
700-AM ESPN in Spokane. Larry Weir returns for his 25th season calling the play-by-play, with analysis handled by Paul Sorensen (Keith Osso 11/7-11/21). Broadcasts begin one hour prior to kickoff and include an expanded post-game show.
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: http://ewustats.com
Weekly Coaches Show: Mondays at 6 p.m. at the "Impulse Club" at Northern Quest Resort & Casino, with video highlights and commentary by head coach Beau Baldwin at 5:30 p.m. (no video or show on 11/23) . . . 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 and the Swinging Doors in Spokane.


 

The Vikings made believers out of Washington State University fans, but the 18th-ranked Eastern Washington University football team will do its best to ensure that lightning doesn't strike in the same spot twice.

Returning to the Inland Northwest where it registered one of the biggest upsets in the 2015 season, No. 11 Portland State visits Roos Field this Saturday (Nov. 21) in a Big Sky Conference showdown for the "Dam Cup" that should reward the victor with a playoff berth and a possible Big Sky title.

Kickoff is 2:05 p.m. on "Senior Day" at "The Inferno" and the game will be broadcast live regionally via SWX and watchbigsky.com. Fans can also listen to the game on 700-AM ESPN and via the web at www.700espn.com, with pre-game coverage starting one hour prior to kickoff and the broadcasts featuring an expanded post-game show.

A 57-16 loss at Montana last week dropped Eastern into a second-place tie with the Grizzlies, Northern Arizona and Portland State, which knocked off previously unbeaten Southern Utah 24-23 on Saturday. Southern Utah is now 6-1 and plays Northern Arizona this Saturday. There could potentially be a four-way tie for the league title when the dust clears this week, and it's anybody's guess who might qualify for the playoffs from the league.

"It could be an incredible game on the last week of the season," said Eastern head coach Beau Baldwin. "It's going to take putting together a great week in everything we do to have an opportunity to win this ballgame. It's going to take a lot."

Besides the pivotal game this week in Cheney, Southern Utah also hosts red-hot Northern Arizona in Cedar City, Utah. If the Lumberjacks are able to win their fifth-straight game and knock off the Thunderbirds to make both teams 6-2 in the league, the EWU-PSU winner will also gain a share of the league title. Montana could also garner a share with a win at MSU.

Southern Utah can wrap-up the league's automatic berth in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision Playoffs with a win, otherwise, tiebreakers in head-to-head meetings will need to determine it. Eastern has lost to both NAU and Montana, so they would have to hope for one of 13 at-large selections into the 24-team playoffs (there are also 11 automatic league qualifiers). Pairings will be announced at 8 a.m. Sunday (Nov. 22) on ESPNU.

The Eagles had their six-game winning streak stopped Nov. 7 in a rare home loss, falling 52-30 to surging Northern Arizona. Eastern, 6-4 and ranked 18th in this week's STATS FCS Top 25 poll, closes the regular season on Nov. 21 at home versus the 11th-ranked Vikings, who are coached by former Eagle football player and 1987 graduate Bruce Barnum.

With an 8-2 record on the season, the Vikings are 4-0 against nationally-ranked FCS teams this season. They are also 2-0 against Football Bowl Subdivision programs, including a season-opening 24-17 win at Washington State (now 7-3). Portland State's 66-7 blowout of North Texas was the largest victory margin by an FCS program over an FBS program in NCAA history.

The Vikings, who haven't defeated EWU since a 2011 win at Roos Field, have won five of their last six games, including victories against traditional powerhouses Montana and Montana State. But the Eagles have won five of the last six meetings against PSU, including three-straight.

 
 

2015 Senior Class

Eastern will say goodbye to some of the most successful players in school history on "Senior Day" on Nov. 21 versus Portland State at Roos Field. The 15 Eagle seniors will make their final regular season appearance at "The Inferno" and have already been a part of three Big Sky Conference championships and a trio of playoff berths. Eastern has won 27 of 31 Big Sky Conference games and 40 games overall in the last four years. The list includes former running back and linebacker Jordan Talley, a Portland native who had to skip his senior season because of health concerns after suffering several concussions. The list of 15 players below includes seven players who will earn their fourth letter for the Eagles in 2015.

Center - #73 - T.J. Boatright - 6-5 - 290 - Sr. - 4L - Vancouver, Wash. (Union HS '11)

Cornerback - #3 - Frank Cange - 5-9 - 170 - Sr. - 3L - Renton, Wash. (Lindbergh HS '10)

Off. Tackle - #78 - Clay DeBord - 6-6 - 305 - Sr. - 4L - Asotin, Wash. (Asotin HS '11)

Off. Tackle - #79 - Cassidy Curtis - 6-7 - 305 - Sr. - 4L - Denver, Colo. (Cherry Creek HS '11)

Off. Guard - #58 - David Delgado - 6-3 - 310 - Sr. - 2L - American Canyon, Calif. (St. Patrick-St. Vincent HS '11)

Off. Guard - #61 - Jay Deines - 6-4 - 290 - Sr. - 3L - Issaquah, Wash. (Issaquah HS '11)

Off. Guard - #66 - Thomas Gomez - 6-3 - 295 - Sr. - 3L - Graham, Wash. (Graham Kapowsin HS '11)

Tight End - #89 - Terry Jackson II - 6-4 - 235 - Sr. - 3L - Sacramento, Calif. (Bella Vista HS '11)

Kicker - #76 - Tyler McNannay - 6-1 - 175 - Sr. - 2L/TR - Colfax, Wash. (Colfax HS '11 / Washington State & Weber State)

Running Back/Linebacker - #20 - Jordan Talley - 5-10 – 205 - Sr. - 3L* - Portland, Ore. (Jesuit HS '11)

Running Back/Cornerback - #21 - Rashad Wadood - 5-11 - 185 - Sr. - 2L/TR - Long Beach, Calif. (Lakewood HS '11 & Arizona State Univ.)

Safety - #8 - Miles Weatheroy - 6-1 - 190 - Sr. - 4L - Portland, Ore. (Jesuit HS '11)

Tight End - #82 - Jake Withnell - 6-4 - 245 - Sr. - 4L - Salem, Ore. (South Salem HS '11)

Off. Guard - #72 - Aaron Neary - 6-4 - 300 - Sr. - 4L - Richland, Wash. (Hanford HS '11)

Defensive Back - #4 - #Todd Raynes - 6-2 - 210 - Sr. - 4L - Kenmore, Wash. (Inglemoor HS '11)

 
 

Records/Milestone Watch

* Two-time All-America wide receiver Cooper Kupp has already broken his own single season school record for receptions, and the Big Sky record is well within sight. With 106 catches this season to hit the century mark for just the 22nd time in FCS history, he is two ahead of the school record of 104 he set last year. He is now only six behind the Big Sky record of 112 in 2011 by Idaho State's Rodrick Rumble. With 303 career grabs, he moved past the 301 the immortal Jerry Rice had for Mississippi Valley from 1981-84. As a result, Kupp moved into eighth in FCS history (two players are No. 6 with 304 catches, No. 5 has 305 and No. 4 has 310, and the record is 395). He has 18 touchdown receptions for the season and 55 in his career. The junior is only three TD receptions in his career behind the FCS record of 58 set by New Hampshire's David Ball from 2003-06. Kupp is also just three TDs from his own Big Sky single season record of 21 set in 2013. In addition, he is now just 27 receiving yards from moving into third in FCS history in that category and 65 away from Rice to rank second (the record is 5,250).

* Senior tight end Jake Withnell has played in 53 of a possible 53 games as an Eagle, and has equaled the school record of 53 (Ronnie Hamlin 2011-14). Primarily used as a blocking tight end, he has eight catches for 31 yards and two touchdowns in his career. He recently joined four other Eagles on the Academic All-District 8 team as selected by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA). An accounting major with a 3.91 grade point average, the 2011 graduate of South Salem (Ore.) High School will be honored for the fourth time on the Big Sky All-Academic team at the conclusion of the 2015 season.

 
 

Team Game Notes

* After ranking a season-high fourth last week while riding a six game-winning streak, in the two weeks since then Eastern has dropped to 10th last week to 18th this week in the STATS Top 25 poll. The Eagles dropped from sixth to 14th after successive losses to open the year, but climbed to fourth on the basis of a six-game winning streak. In all, four of EWU's 10 FCS opponents are currently in the STATS poll, including Portland State (#11), Northern Iowa (#15), Montana (#17) and Northern Arizona (#24). Eastern doesn't play Southern Utah, and they are ranked 20h. In all, nine of 13 Big Sky teams have been ranked in the 11 weeks of the rankings this season, with EWU and Montana the only league teams to be ranked each week. The Eagles have now been ranked in The Sports Network Poll 56-consecutive times, having entered 2015 with a streak of 44-straight. Eastern has spent time at No. 1 in four of the last five seasons (2014, 2012, 2011, 2010), and was high as second in 2013. In this week's coaches poll, Eastern is ranked 19th, with Portland State 11th, followed by Montana (17th), Southern Utah (18th) and Northern Arizona (20th).

* The NCAA Division I Football Championship bracket will be announced on Sunday, November 22 at 8 a.m. Pacific time on ESPNU. The field consists of 11 automatic qualifiers and 13 at-large teams selected by the NCAA Division I Football Championship Committee. The top eight teams in the 24-team bracket for the championship are seeded and receive first-round byes. Team pairings are determined according to geographical proximity. Teams from the same conference will not be paired for first round games or for second round games when both teams are playing their first games of the championship (except for teams from the same conference that did not play against each other during the regular season; such teams may play each other in the first and second round). Eight first round games will be conducted on Saturday, November 28 on the campus of one of the competing institutions, and the winners will advance to the second round. The second round also features eight games on Saturday, December 5 on the campus of one of the competing teams. Second round winners meet in the quarterfinals on December 11 or 12 on the campus of one of the competing institutions with the winners advancing to the semifinal games on December 18 or 19 also on campus. The winners will play in the 2016 NCAA Division I Football Championship Game in Frisco, Texas on Saturday, January 9 at 11 a.m. Central Time.

* The winner of the annual Eastern Washington versus Portland State football game will now be the only deciding factor in awarding The Dam Cup, which enters its sixth year of existence this fall. Previously, the trophy was presented to the school which accumulated the most points among competitions that included football, men's basketball, women's basketball, volleyball and soccer. Portland State has won three of the five titles, but EWU is the defending champion after winning in the 2014-15 school year. Eastern athletic director Bill Chaves said the growth of the Big Sky Conference has resulted in EWU not playing PSU consistently in all sports, and not always with equitable home games. However, each school has two regional rivals they play annually in football, so making The Dam Cup a football-only trophy made logical sense. "With each sport now playing different schedules than in the past, the one thing that we can count on annually is Eastern playing PSU in football," said Chaves. "So transitioning the Dam Cup to the winner of that contest makes most sense today." Chaves will present the trophy to the winning team following Saturday's game.

* Turnover margin will be a focal point in this week's game against PSU, which ranks second in FCS with a plus 1.5 per game. The Vikings have gained 24 turnovers (10th in FCS) while giving up just nine (fifth). Eastern, meanwhile, has had 10 turnovers in its last two games alone and has 20 total for the season (91st among 123 FCS teams). Eastern has 14 takeaways (81st) and a minus 0.60 turnover margin (97th).

* Eastern will try to continue another string of success when they play its regular season finale this week. From 1999-2014, 15 out of 16 seasons have concluded with a victory in the team's final game of the regular season, including a current streak of 11 consecutive seasons. The only time in that span Eastern lost came at the end of the 2003 season when EWU lost 41-10 at Montana.

• The Eagles are guaranteed to finish with the school's 18th winning season in the last 20 years (1996-2015). That includes a current string of nine-straight (2007-15) and another stretch of seven straight (1999-2005), feats that hadn't been accomplished since the Red Reese era when Eastern had a string of 11-straight winning seasons from 1931-1941.

 * The Eagles are now 34-6 all-time on the red turf at "The Inferno," but had its 19-game regular season winning streak snapped at Roos Field on Nov. 7, 2015, versus Northern Arizona. Eastern's last regular season loss came in the final home game of the 2011 season against Portland State (43-26). Three of the losses have come the past three seasons in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision Playoffs -- a 45-42 loss to Sam Houston State in 2012 when EWU rallied from a 35-0 halftime deficit to nearly pull off an improbable comeback, a 35-31 semifinal loss to Towson in 2013 and a 59-46 loss to Illinois State in the quarterfinals in 2014. Eastern is 26-3 in the regular season at "The Inferno" and 8-3 in the FCS Playoffs. The first loss EWU suffered on the red turf was a 36-21 loss to Montana State on Sept. 24, 2011 after an unbeaten debut season during EWU's national championship season in 2010.

* The Eagles have had an uncharacteristic 10 turnovers in their last two games, resulting in getting out-scored 109-46. With four turnovers in a 52-30 home loss to NAU on Nov. 7, EWU had its most turnovers in its last 25 games, then had its most in 120 games with six versus Montana on Nov. 14. The last time EWU had that many came on Oct. 7, 2006, in a 33-17 home loss to Montana. Eastern had six in two others games after having seven against Montana in 1999.

* Opponents have scored 78 points off 20 EWU turnovers this season, including 48 in the last two games (NAU 21, UM 28). By comparison, EWU has scored 58 points off 14 opponent miscues. The Eagles are 1-4 this season when they've had more turnovers than their opponents (losses against Montana/6-3, Oregon/2-1, UNI/1-0, NAU/4-1). Eastern is 3-0 when the turnovers are even and 2-0 when it has won the turnover battle. That follows the trend in eight seasons (2008-15) under head coach Beau Baldwin, whose teams are 41-1 when they've won the turnover battle, 17-5 when they've been tied and 15-23 when they've lost (total of 73-29). The last time EWU lost when it won the turnover battle came in the 2009 FCS Playoffs at Stephen F. Austin when EWU had two miscues and forced four in the 44-33 loss. Thus, EWU is 32-0 since 2010 when they've won the turnover battle, 14-4 when they've been tied and 13-16 when they've lost. That's a collective record of 59-20 (75 percent), with 16 of those 20 losses (80 percent) coming in games EWU has lost the turnover battle and 54 percent of EWU's wins coming when they've won the turnover battle (78 percent when including ties).

* Slow starts and scoring lapses have also become commonplace for Eastern, which has trailed after the first quarter in seven of 10 games this season, and at halftime in all but three as well. The Eagles had gone more than a year (61 total quarters/15+ games) of scoring at least once in every quarter of every game, but that streak ended in the second quarter on Sept. 26 against Sacramento. In the 26 quarters since, Eastern has been scoreless in six of them.

* With a Roos Field crowd of 9,214 versus Northern Arizona, Eastern has now had 14-consecutive sell-out crowds at "The Inferno" and 26 all-time in stadium history. The crowd was the 17th-most in stadium history, which is in its 49th season of existence in 2015. Previously this season, 8,759 were on hand for the Weber State game, which is now 21st all-time. A crowd of 10,352 against Cal Poly on Oct. 10 was the 10th most in stadium history and 10,912 against Montana State on Sept. 19 is the fifth-most.

* Eastern has advanced to the FCS Playoffs four of the last five years under head coach Beau Baldwin, a two-time Big Sky Coach of the Year. Baldwin coached in his 100th game at Eastern when the Eagles beat Weber State 14-13 on Oct. 31 at Roos Field in Cheney. He owns a 73-29 record in seven-plus seasons to currently rank seventh in the 52-year history of the Big Sky with a .716 winning percentage. His 79.4 percent winning percentage in league games (50-13) is fifth all-time in the league.

* The Eagles are 32-5 in their last 36 Big Sky games since a 0-2 start in 2011. Eastern has won 22 of its last 25 league games, with the lone losses coming against Montana in 2015 and Northern Arizona in both 2015 and 2014. An Oct. 25, 2014, loss at Northern Arizona snapped EWU's 14-game conference winning streak and a home loss against the Lumberjacks on Nov. 7, 2015, ended a streak of eight Big Sky wins in a row. Including non-conference victories (two versus MSU and one against Cal Poly) and a playoff win (Montana), the Eagles have won 26 of their last 29 versus conference foes.

* Eastern has won eight Big Sky Conference titles – 1992, 1997, 2004, 2005, 2010, 2012, 2013 and 2014 – but is coming off the school's first three-peat as a league member. However, the Eagles won three-straight Evergreen Conference titles from 1965-67 and again from 1947-50. The 1947 title actually came in the final season of the Washington Intercollegiate Conference (Winco), and prior to that EWU won four-straight titles in the Tri-Normal League from 1934-37.

* Eastern still leads FCS in passing yards (367.1 per game). The Eagles are also seventh in passing efficiency (157.4), seventh in total offense (487.3), eighth in first downs (243), 11th in completion percentage (64.6 percent), 23rd in fourth-down conversion percentage (59.3 percent), 50th in red-zone offense (81.4 percent) and 18th in scoring offense (35.0) after leading FCS a year ago with a 44.1 average. Eastern's 526-yard passing effort at Northern Iowa on Sept. 12 broke the school record of 486 set twice against Montana – Oct. 4, 1986, and Sept. 17, 1994. Eastern had a school-record 106 total offensive plays against Northern Colorado on Oct. 25 en route to finishing with 648 yards, the sixth-most in school history.

* With two games this season requiring late-game rallies, Eastern has now won 16 games since 2010 when trailing or tied in the fourth quarter. In a 43-31 win against Northern Colorado on Oct. 24, Eastern found itself down five times in the game, but responded with scoring drives each time to regain the lead. The Eagles scored 14 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to go up by 12, but that was wiped out by a pair of UNC touchdowns within 49 seconds of each other, the second aided by a successful onside kickoff attempt. But the Eagles stopped the Bears on an important two-point conversion attempt, thus making their final deficit against the Bears 41-40 with 1:23 to play. Eastern followed with a nine-play, 49-yard drive that ended with a game-winning 44-yard field goal by Jordan Dascalo on the game's final play. On his way to school records of 20 catches for 275 yards, Cooper Kupp had seven for 130 yards and a touchdown in the fourth quarter alone, with Jordan West passing for 145 yards and a pair of scores. Two weeks earlier, Eastern trailed by 15 in the fourth quarter against the Cal Poly, but scored 22 unanswered points to pull out a 42-41 overtime win. It was Eastern's first such heart-stopper since Sept. 20, 2014, when the Eagles rallied for a 52-51 victory over Montana State. Interestingly, a two-point conversion with 27 seconds left won that game for EWU, while a missed two-point conversion by Cal Poly in overtime clinched the win against the Mustangs. Although out-gained 519-270 in total offense in the game versus Cal Poly, Eastern had 145 of its yards on its final three possessions of the game, including drives of 85 and 55 yards to force overtime. Kendrick Bourne had six of his career-high 10 catches in the fourth quarter, then had a 25-yard TD catch on the first play of overtime. Jordan West completed 13-of-16 passes for 134 yards and three scores in the fourth quarter and OT. Two of the 16 come-from-behind victories came in the 2013 season, including a 49-46 victory over 25th-ranked Oregon State and a 42-41 win against Portland State. Eastern won three in 2012 (Montana, Montana State, UC Davis), two in 2011 (Cal Poly, Sacramento State) and six in the 2010 national title season (Delaware, North Dakota State, Southern Utah, Sacramento State, Northern Colorado, Montana).

* Eastern has had 11 50-point games in the last four seasons (including one in 2015), with six in 2014 and two each in 2013 and 2012. Eastern is now 44-3 in the 47 games they have scored at least 50 in school history. The lone losses were to Washington (59-52 in 2014), Idaho State (55-52 in 2003 in double overtime) and Weber State (63-59 in 1991, which at the time was the highest-scoring game in FCS/I-AA history).

 
 

Player Game Notes

* Five Eastern Washington University football players – senior tight end Jake Withnell, senior defensive back Todd Raynes, junior wide receiver Cooper Kupp, sophomore linebacker Jake Gall and sophomore defensive lineman Andre Lino -- have all been selected to the 2015 Academic All-District 8 Football Team by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA). The five honored players – which equal the most in school history – now advance to the national ballot to select Academic All-America honors. A year ago, Cooper Kupp earned second team All-America honors for the Eagles, who have had eight different players win 11 Academic All-America honors since 1989. A total of 65 have been honored since then on the All-District squad, which includes NCAA Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) and Bowl Subdivision (FBS) football players from schools in Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho, Utah, Arizona, Nevada, Alaska, Hawaii and British Columbia. Withnell is an accounting major with a 3.91 grade point average, and is a 2011 graduate of South Salem, Ore., High School. Raynes graduated from Inglemoor High School in 2011, and is from Kenmore, Wash. He has a 3.42 GPA as a mechanical engineering major. Both Withnell and Raynes have been honored three times previously on the Big Sky Conference All-Academic team. Kupp graduated in 2012 from Davis High School in Yakima, Wash., and is majoring in economics with a 3.54 GPA. Gall is from Cle Elum, Wash, and graduated from Cle Elum/Roslyn HS in 2013. He has a 3.53 GPA as a criminal justice major, and Lino is undeclared with a 3.71 GPA. Lino is from Seattle and graduated from Blanchet HS in 2013. Kupp, Lino and Gall earned their first Big Sky All-Academic honors following the 2014 season.

* Just three touchdown catches away from the FCS career record, Eastern wide receiver Cooper Kupp continues to lead FCS in receiving touchdowns (18), receiving yards (1,506), receiving yards per game (150.6), receptions (106) and receptions per game (10.6), and is third in scoring (11.6 per game). He is 10 catches, 280 yards and three TDs ahead of the next-highest marks in FCS. On Oct. 7, Kupp was one of 25 players (including EWU quarterback Jordan West) to be named by STATS to its updated watch list for FCS Offensive Player of the Year. On Oct. 19, he and West were named to the 32-player midseason watch list for College Football Performance Awards FCS National Performer of the Year. He had school records of 20 catches for 275 yards in a 43-41 win over Northern Colorado on Oct. 24. One week earlier he had a 14-catch performance at Idaho State on Oct. 17 in which he had 161 yards and two touchdowns receiving, another TD on a 76-yard punt return and a 24-yard scoring pass to quarterback Jordan West. Earlier this season, on his way to earning Big Sky Conference ROOT Sports co-Offensive Player of the Week accolades, Kupp finished with then career highs of 15 catches for 246 yards – both Autzen Stadium records – in a 61-42 loss to Oregon on Sept. 5. He now has 55 touchdown catches in his career, moving him this season from 19th to second in FCS history.

* Junior wide receiver Kendrick Bourne has compiled some impressive statistics of his own this season for the Eagles, including a nine-catch, 154-yard effort against Northern Arizona on Nov. 7 for the fifth 100-yard performance of his career. In FCS statistics this week, Bourne is 13th in receiving touchdowns (8), 10th in receiving yards (952), 14th in receiving yards per game (95.2) and 10th in receptions per game (6.8). He has 127 catches for 1,883 yards and 20 touchdowns (eighth in EWU history) in his 38-game Eastern career. He had back-to-back career-high performances of 10 catches in October. He had 84 yards and a pair of touchdowns in EWU's 42-41 overtime victory over Cal Poly on Oct. 10, then had 102 yards versus Idaho State on Oct. 17. He had a 25-yard TD on the first play of OT against Cal Poly, and had six other catches in the fourth quarter to help EWU rally from a 15-point deficit. One game earlier, he finished with seven catches for a career-high 204 yards and a touchdown in EWU's 28-20 victory over Sacramento State on Sept. 26. In those three games combined, Bourne had 27 grabs for 390 yards and three touchdowns.

* Redshirt freshman quarterback Reilly Hennessey made his first career start against Montana on Nov. 14 in a plan that included rotation of three different quarterbacks to utilize their strengths. Hennessey completed 7-of-12 passes for 113 yards in the first half, including a 65-yard strike to Cooper Kupp that set-up a first quarter field goal. He was shaken up on a sack in the second quarter and didn't return. Earlier this season against Northern Iowa on Sept. 12, Hennessey and Jordan West combined for a school-record 526 yards passing, breaking the previous record of 486 set in games versus Montana in 1986 and 1994. Hennessey finished 13-of-18 for 177 yards and a touchdown before departing the game with an ankle sprain. In Eastern's opener at Oregon, Hennessey completed 14-of-21 for 145 yards and a pair of scores in his Eagle debut.

* Sophomore linebacker Jake Gall has had seven or more tackles in his last five games (total of 48), with eight and 2 1/2 sacks against Northern Arizona on Nov. 7. Gall had eight and a key fumble recovery against Northern Colorado on Oct. 24, and in the two games before that had 15 tackles against Idaho State and 10 versus Weber State on Oct. 31. In eight games this season he has 70 tackles to rank second on the team.

* Junior linebacker Miquiyah Zamora eclipsed his previous high of 14 tackles by two, finishing with 16 tackles and a sack in Eastern's 14-13 win over Weber State on Oct. 31. He had 12 of his tackles in the final three quarters in which the Eagles held the Wildcats to a single field goal. His sack in the first quarter helped forced the Wildcats to settle for a field goal. He followed that performance with nine tackles and a forced fumble on a sack against Northern Arizona on Nov. 7. Zamora has a team-leading 92 tackles on the season, and ranks 39th in the FCS and eighth in the Big Sky with an average of 9.2 stops per game. He has a career total of 248, which ranks 16th in school history.

* Backup quarterback Gage Gubrud has been holding for kicks all season, but he made his Eagle debut as a quarterback on Nov. 14 at Montana. He completed 7-of-13 passes for 66 yards and an interception, and also had 18 net rushing yards and a touchdown. He made another kind of debut on Oct. 31 versus Weber State. With extremely windy and rainy conditions affecting the game, he punted five times for a 38.2 average. His rugby-style punts – all against sustained winds of 23 miles per hour – included a 50-yarder that resulted in WSU taking over at its own 16 yard line. Another punt resulted in the Wildcats starting from their own 13, and the average position of all five of his punts was the WSU 35.

* Senior rover Todd Raynes led a four-turnover effort by Eastern's defense with a 25-yard interception return for a touchdown that helped complete a 17-0 Eastern scoring run against Idaho State on Oct. 17. Eastern trailed 14-7 before the Eagles scored three-straight times, capped by Raynes' second career pick-six that put the Eagles up by 10 in the second quarter in the 45-28 victory. He also had six tackles against ISU, including five in the first half when EWU took a 31-21 lead at intermission. Raynes had a 40-yard return for a TD in last year's FCS Playoffs against Montana, and has four total interceptions in his career. He has played in 42 Eastern games (22 as a starter) and has 157 tackles, nine passes broken up, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery in his career.

* Eastern has now had 12 200-yard receiving performances all-time, and four of them have come this season (three by Cooper Kupp with a school-record 275 versus Northern Colorado, 246 against Oregon and 201 versus Montana State, and 204 yards by Kendrick Bourne against Sacramento State). Backed up at their own 2-yard line early and trailing Sac State by 13 points in the third quarter, Bourne and quarterback Jordan West hooked up on an electric 98-yard pass play that started a 21-0 scoring run for the Eagles. But the long pass wasn't a school record. Jason Anderson caught a 99-yard TD from Todd Bernett on Sept. 17, 1994, for a school, Big Sky and FCS record that can never be broken – just tied. Bourne also had a non-scoring 43-yard reception from West, who set the school record with 491 passing yards.

* Junior Jordan West has set two school passing records individually and one team record in three different games this season. The former invited walk-on is third in FCS in touchdown passes (30) and sixth in points responsible for per game (19.4). He is also second in passing yards per game (300.2), second in total passing yards (3,002), ninth in passing efficiency (158.8), seventh in total offense (302.7 per game) and 15th in completion percentage (.646). West has started 13 games in his career (9-4 record) and has a career passing efficiency rating of 154.4 to currently rank third in school history behind 2005 Walter Payton Award winner Erik Meyer (166.5) and two-time Payton runner-up Vernon Adams Jr. (173.8). West has completed 64 percent of his passes for 4,074 yards, 39 touchdowns and nine interceptions so far in his career. He had a school-record 491-yard passing performance against Sacramento State on Sept. 26, completing 29-of-47 passes with three touchdowns. The previous record was 486 set by Todd Bernett in 1994 versus Montana. One game earlier, he set the school record for passing efficiency rating in EWU's 55-50 win over then 11th-ranked Montana State on Sept. 19, and was selected by STATS as its FCS co-National Offensive Player of the Week. The junior from Maple Valley, Wash., and 2012 graduate of Liberty High School was also honored with the same award by NCAA.com and College Sports Madness, plus was Big Sky Conference Offensive Player of the Week. West completed 21-of-24 passes (88 percent) for 410 yards and six touchdowns. His efficiency rating of 313.5 broke the previous school record of 310.4 set exactly 23 years ago to the day by Mark Tenneson against Sonoma State in 1992 (10-of-14, 265 yards, four TDs). West's six touchdowns versus MSU were one away from the school record. He contributed 349 passing yards against Northern Iowa on Sept. 12 when EWU finished with a school record 526 passing yards. He was 3-1 record as an injury replacement in 2014 for Adams, and inn his first collegiate start at Southern Utah in a 42-30 win on Oct. 11, 2014, West completed five of his first six passes, and finished 20-of-27 for 288 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. He had a passing efficiency rating in the game of 192.9.

* Eastern's entire five-man starting offensive line is manned by seniors, with a pair of seniors as backups. In all, those five senior starters average 299 pounds and now have 125 starts between them, including a trio who have combined for 94 career starts. Preseason All-America tackle Clay DeBord has a team-leading 50 starts, while All-America guard Aaron Neary has started 23. In addition, Thomas Gomez has 24, Cassidy Curtis has 15 and T.J. Boatright has 13. Curtis missed five games with a foot injury suffered versus Oregon, but returned to play against Northern Colorado on Oct. 24. DeBord has started every game he has played -- 50 of a possible 53 games the past four seasons. He missed one game each in 2012 and 2013 because of ankle injuries, and had a consecutive starting streak of 24 games snapped against Cal Poly on Oct. 10, 2015, when he missed the game with a concussion.

* Senior All-America offensive lineman Aaron Neary has had to play all three positions along the offensive line – guard, tackle and center – this season for EWU. Eastern's offensive line, already playing without injured starting right tackle Cassidy Curtis (foot), lost his replacement as well on Sept. 12 at Northern Iowa. Jerrod Jones made the first start of his Eagle career, but left the game with a knee injury and Neary had to move to that position, with his position taken by senior Jay Deines. In the next game versus Montana State on Sept. 19, freshman redshirt Nick Ellison made the first start of his career at right tackle and started four times. But against Sac State on Sept. 26, Clay DeBord suffered a concussion, resulting in Neary having to move from guard to tackle. Later, when center T.J. Boatright had to leave the game briefly, Neary played that position as well. DeBord was unable to play against Cal Poly on Oct. 10 because of a concussion, and Jones took his place. When Jones left the game with a sprained ankle, redshirt freshman Matt Meyer filled his position.

* Defensive tackle Kaleb Levao made his Eagle starting debut versus Montana and had four tackles with a sack.

* Defensive lineman Jay-Tee Tiuli made the first start of his career against Weber State on Oct. 31 and had three tackles and a half-sack in the 14-13 win. Cornerback D'londo Tucker made his first career start against the Bears and had three tackles. Sophomore wide receiver Terence Grady made his first career start at Idaho State on Oct. 17 and caught just one pass for two yards.

* Sophomore defensive end Conner Baumann not only made the first defensive start of his career against Cal Poly on Oct. 10, but he was involved in the turning point of the 42-41 overtime victory against the Mustangs. On a third-and-6 play with EWU trailing by six, Baumann and fellow sophomore Andre Lino combined on a key stop that led to a shanked 22-yard Cal Poly punt. Eastern followed with a seven-play, 55-yard drive that was capped by a 16-yard touchdown pass from Jordan West to Nic Sblendorio to help send the game into overtime. Baumann, a 2014 graduate of Newport High School in Bellevue, Wash., had a career-high 11 tackles against Cal Poly. He played in 13 games as a true freshman in 2014, and started at fullback against Northern Colorado on Oct. 18.

* A pair of local redshirt freshmen – rover Cole Karstetter and offensive tackle Nick Ellison – made the first starts of their Eastern careers on Sept. 19 versus Montana State. Karstetter had seven tackles as an injury replacement for Todd Raynes, and is a 2014 graduate of Ferris High School in Spokane, Wash. Ellison, who started at right tackle as a replacement for two injured veterans, graduated the same year from Moscow, Idaho, High School. One game later versus Sacramento State, receiver Simba Webster made his first career start.

* True freshman end Keenan Williams and redshirt freshman linebacker Alek Kacmarcik made the first starts of their careers on defense for EWU at Northern Iowa on Sept. 12. A hometown product of Cheney, Wash., High School, Williams graduated early and was with the Eagles during spring practices – a first for the EWU program. Kacmarcik was last year's Scout Team Defensive Player of the Year and is a 2014 graduate of Woodinville, Wash., High School. Williams had a tackle on the first play from scrimmage and finished with two stops. Kacmarcik had a pair of sacks and five total tackles against the Panthers, then had 18 tackles – equaling the 18th-best performance in school history – a week later versus Montana State.

* Five players on defense but none on offense made their Eagle starting debuts against Oregon on Sept. 5. Redshirt freshman Jonah Jordan started at defensive end and sophomore defensive tackle Andre Lino started at defensive tackle. Also, sophomore linebacker Jake Gall and redshirt freshman cornerback Nzuzi Webster made their first career starts, as well as redshirt freshman free safety Mitch Fettig. In addition, Washington State University transfer Jordan Dascalo made his EWU debut as starting punter and handled kickoffs for the Eagles.

* Five true freshmen played against the Ducks, including linebacker Ketner Kupp, the younger brother of two-time Eagle wide receiver Cooper Kupp. The others were running backs Sam McPherson and Malcom Williams Jr., and defensive linemen Keenan Williams and Jim Townsend.

 
 

More Cooper Kupp Notes

* Mention the all-time great receivers in FCS history, and the immortal Jerry Rice comes to mind. But in less games played than the eventual NFL Hall of Famer, two-time All-America wide receiver Cooper Kupp surpassed Rice on Oct. 24 for career touchdown receptions, passed him on Nov. 14 for career catches and is nearing his marks for yards. Kupp won the Jerry Rice Award in 2013 given to the top freshman in FCS. Kupp now has a Big Sky and school record 55 touchdown catches in his career, ranking second in FCS history – five ahead of the legendary receiver from Mississippi Valley (1981-84) and nine ahead of the former school and Big Sky Conference records of 46 set by Eric Kimble (2002-05). The FCS career record is 58 set by New Hampshire's David Ball (2003-06) and now ranking third is Terrell Hudgins (2006-09) with 52. Kupp has played just 38 games while all the others in the top five have played at least the 41 Rice played. Kupp had two touchdowns in EWU's 28-20 win over Sacramento State on Sept. 26 to set the school and Big Sky Conference records previously held by Eric Kimble with 46 from 2002-05. He then had three versus Northern Colorado on Oct. 24 to pass Rice and equal Hudgins, and then two more versus Weber State on Oct. 31. Kupp's career catches total of 303 are eighth in FCS history --two more than Rice. Kupp has a total of 4,628 receiving yards to rank 65 behind Rice (4,693, second in FCS history).

* On FCS career leaders lists, Kupp is second in touchdown receptions with 55, eighth with 303 receptions and fourth with 4,628 yards. The FCS records for receptions and yards are held by Elon's Terrell Hudgins (2006-09), who had 395 catches for 5,250 yards and 52 touchdowns in 45 games. Hudgins is now No. 3 in TD catches, and the record is 58 held by David Ball of New Hampshire (2003-06).

* It was a record-breaking month of October for Cooper Kupp, with more on the horizon. He set the Big Sky career receptions and reception yards records versus Northern Colorado on Oct. 24 when he broke school records with 20 catches for 275 yards. One game earlier, Kupp had 14 catches for 161 yards and a pair of scores to break the school record for career catches. Kupp broke Eric Kimble's record of 253, and then a week later he broke the league record of 268 set by Kasey Dunn of Idaho (1988-91). Kimble (2002-05) also held the previous school and Big Sky records for receiving yards with 4,140. With his 20 catches versus UNC, Kupp broke the previous record of 17 set by Aaron Boyce versus Montana on Oct. 6, 2007. His 275 yards was the fourth time (a school record) he has had at least 200, and broke the previous school record of 264 set by Jason Anderson versus Montana on Sept. 17, 1994. Thanks to a 76-yard punt return for a TD against ISU, Kupp's 14.8 career average per punt return (with two touchdowns) is currently ahead of the school record of 13.4 owned by Kimble. Including two punt return touchdowns, Kupp has 57 total scores to pass Kimble's school record of 54. Kupp has 4,990 career all-purpose yards to rank third in school history, but is well behind the total of 5,934 by Kimble, who played as a running back for the Eagles prior to becoming a receiver.

* Already with six FCS records, 13 school marks and four Big Sky records, Kupp has averaged a TD reception for every 5.5 catches so far in his career. He has scored at least once in 32 of 38 games he has played, with 21 performances of at least eight catches and 22 with at least 100 receiving yards. Kupp has started all 38 games he has played in his EWU career, giving him the second-most starts on the team. He had 15 catches for 246 yards against Oregon on Sept. 5, 2015. Both of those marks against the Ducks were Autzen Stadium records and at the time were the second-best in school history.

* With a career average of 15.3 yards per catch (303-4,628), Kupp has had 23 receptions of 40 yards or more, including 10 for scores. He also has three punt returns of at least 40 yards, two for touchdowns (67 and 76 yards). He had the longest reception of his career versus Oregon on Sept. 5, 2015, a non-scoring 73-yarder, then matched it with a scoring 73-yarder versus Northern Iowa on Sept. 12, 2015. His 76-yard punt return for a TD against Idaho State on Oct. 17 was the longest play of his career. Kupp is also 2-of-2 passing, with both going for touchdowns of 24 and 21 yards.

* Kupp set EWU's single season school record for receptions with 104 in 2014 then broke his own record with 106 thus far in 2015. Now with three of the top four performances in school history, the previous record was 96 set by his wide receivers coach, Nicholas Edwards in 2011. Kupp had the 19th performance in FCS history of 100 catches or more last year, and had the 22nd this year (third in league history). His 106 grabs ranks second in league history behind the 112 of Idaho State's Rodrick Rumble, also in 2011, and is the 12th-best mark all-time in FCS. His 104 catches in 2014 is now 13th in FCS history and third all-time in the league. He also owns three of the top five receiving yards performances in school history, with 1,506 this year to rank third. He also has three of the top six TD receiving performances, with 18 this season to rank fourth. Kupp finished the 2014 season with 1,431 receiving yards and 16 touchdowns. He closed his sophomore season with 10 catches for 185 yards and two touchdowns versus Illinois State in the quarterfinals of the FCS Playoffs on Dec. 13. One game earlier in the second round of the playoffs, he had what was then a career-best 12 catches versus Montana on Dec. 6.

* As a freshman, Kupp set the school and Big Sky records with 21 touchdown receptions. All six of his FCS records came as a freshman when he finished with 93 catches for 1,691 yards. Kupp had at least one score in the first 14 games of his career to set a FCS record, but had the streak stopped in a 2013 loss in the semifinals of the FCS Playoffs.

* Coach Beau Baldwin on Kupp's Record-Breaking Day at UNC: "I just haven't seen anything like this to see him perform like that for three years game-in and game-out. You become so numb to it that you don't realize how special it is. In the game you know he is getting a lot of touches, but the next thing you know you see 20 for 275. It's a number you just never expect to see next to a receiver. To him it's not about how many catches, but it's what he can do on the next play. He was frustrated about the one he lost in the sun and wasn't able to come up inside the 10 yard line on our last drive. That's how he rolls and how he operates, but it's fun to be around. He means so much in how he leads, how he handles things and treats teammates. More than just the receiver he is, he's just incredible in how he carries himself and the person and teammate he is. That's Cooper Kupp in a nutshell. He has all the tools as not just a football player, but as a human. We're just lucky and enjoying every day we get to spend with him. It's something special."

* Coach Beau Baldwin on Kupp Breaking the Big Sky TD Receptions Record: "The record he broke was by a student-athlete who had an amazing career here at Eastern, and it was a pleasure to coach Eric Kimble. It was an incredible record that was going to be very hard to break. But Eric would be the first to say he would like no other person to break a record like that because Cooper works for everything he achieves. He has amazing ability, but to break a record like that is because of what he does every day to make himself a better player. But no matter how good a football player Cooper is, he's an even better person and teammate."

* Coach Beau Baldwin on Kupp: "I'd be shocked if you could show me a better receiver at any level in the country. Usually I don't talk like that, but that's how I feel right now and think that we have here at Eastern. We are very fortunate to have him as a leader and player on this football team. It's just a will and an amazing mindset that he has. He is talented – he is talented in every aspect of what it is to be a wide receiver. People want to knock him for his speed, but he still runs behind people over and over again. He took a bubble screen 73 yards against Oregon and a Pac-12 team with a lot of speed. So Cooper is plenty fast. The thing that takes him over the top in comparing him to other receivers in the country is his will. You marvel when you see him out there doing what he is doing. Somebody asked him how he breaks so many tackles, and it's very simple to him, 'I don't like to be tackled so I refuse to be tackled.' That's a mindset. It's kind of like the mental toughness you need to be tired and still play through it. The guys who can do that have grit, and Cooper has another type of grit. When the ball is in the air, 'it's mine. Period.' That's the way he thinks. Eventually he gets tackled, but there are times three or four players hit him and he's still standing when they knock him out of bounds. But he still hasn't gone to the ground. We're blessed to have him because not only is he an incredible football receiver, but he's an incredible football player. He's a punt returner, he's blocking in the run game, he holds on kicks and he's leading. He leads not only by his words, but by his actions and what he is doing on the field."

 
 

Series Notes

* Portland State head coach Bruce Barnum played for Eastern under legendary head coach Dick Zornes, and graduated from EWU in 1987. He redshirted in 1982 and was on the roster in 1983 but didn't letter for the Eagles after coming from Columbia River High School in Vancouver, Wash. His nickname has stuck too -- in the '82 football media guide he was listed as "Barney" and the style of football played in PSU in 2015 is called "Barnyball." On his coaching staff at PSU is former Eagle assistant coach Malik Roberson, who is currently PSU's defensive coordinator and linebackers coach. Roberson was at EWU from 2000-01 (student assistant) and again from 2002-07 (defensive line coach) under Paul Wulff. Former Eastern defensive end Jason Belford is PSU's defensive line coach. He played for the Eagles from 2005-08 and received his degree in 2008.

 * The Eagles have won five of the last six games versus Portland State, but still trails in the all-time series 19-17-1. Eastern is 9-9 against the Vikings in Portland, including victories in 2010 (50-17) and 2002 (27-24) at Hillsboro Stadium. Eastern is 7-10-1 at home against them and 1-0 in neutral site games. The road team has won 10 of the last 17 meetings, not including a 2009 neutral site game in Seattle. The longest winning streak by either team was by Portland State in the first four games of the series from 1968-71, and Eastern will be trying to match that in 2015. 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 EWU leads the series 11-8 since then.

* In last year's game, fifth-ranked Eastern secured at least a share of its third-straight Big Sky Conference title – and its eighth overall – with a 56-34 victory over Portland State Nov. 21 at Providence Park in rain-drenched Portland, Ore. While Eastern's passing game was limited by the wet conditions, sophomore Jabari Wilson provided a career-high 132 yards and three touchdowns on the ground to help EWU pull away with 21 points in the third quarter and another 21 in the fourth. Vernon Adams Jr. did his part with 309 yards and a pair of touchdowns through the air, and sophomore All-America wide receiver Cooper Kupp caught nine passes for 147 yards and a score. Junior Shaq Hill added a 90-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter, and senior safety Tevin McDonald clinched the win with a 73-yard interception return for a score. The Eagle defense gave EWU the lead for good by turning two forced fumbles into scores in the third quarter. In the first half, the Eagles converted two early fourth downs, and turned them both into touchdowns. The first came on EWU's first possession and resulted in a 32-yard TD pass from Adams to Portland native Kendrick Bourne. The second was a 25-yard pass to Terry Jackson II that led to a 1-yard TD run by Wilson to cap a 98-yard drive.  In the last three meetings versus PSU, EWU had managed only 70 yards on 71 carries, but EWU had 185 on 39 carries versus the Vikings. Sophomore safety Zach Bruce, who was making just his third career start as a safety, had his first interception as an Eagle to squelch a PSU threat late in the first quarter. That led to a 98-yard EWU drive that gave the Eagles a 14-0 lead. He later added a second interception in the fourth quarter. Sophomore defensive end Samson Ebukam had a team-leading nine tackles.

* The last time the two teams played in Cheney, quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. and wide receiver Cooper Kupp connected for the game-winning touchdown with 31 seconds remaining to help EWU defeat Portland State 42-41 Nov. 23, 2013, at Roos Field.  The victory preserved Eastern's unbeaten Big Sky Conference season and helped the third-ranked Eagles win the league's outright title. The game featured four ties and a pair of lead changes, and EWU did not have a lead in the final three quarters until the game-winning TD. It was EWU's 13th victory since 2010 when trailing or tied in the fourth quarter. The Eagles were aided by a missed PSU extra point on a touchdown with a minute left that gave PSU a short-lived 41-35 lead. Adams had five touchdown passes, including the game-winner to Kupp to cap a frantic four-play, 74-yard drive that started with a minute to play. Kevin Miller's extra point provided the one-point win. Adams completed 34-of-56 passes for 457 yards, setting career highs for attempts and completions and equaling his career-high of 457 yards (broken in the 2014 season). Linebacker Ronnie Hamlin had 14 tackles in a game that featured 1,131 yards of total offense. Portland State finished with 603 and Eastern ended with 528. It was a match-up of the top two offenses in FCS, with EWU ranking fourth in FCS in total offense (531.4 per game) and seventh in scoring (40.3), while PSU was just ahead of the Eagles in third in offense (league-leading 534.8 average per game) and 24th in scoring (34.4).

* In 2012 in Portland, "Find a way," were the continual words of Eastern head football coach Beau Baldwin in the waning seconds on Nov. 17 at Jeld-Wen Field in Portland, Ore. Eastern's All-America wide receivers – and transfer quarterback Kyle Padron -- came up with huge plays when the Eagles needed them most, and EWU secured its sixth Big Sky Conference title with a 41-34 victory over Portland State. Eastern scored the winning points on an eight-play, 94-yard drive to break a 34-all tie with 1:25 to play in a steady downpour. Padron passed for 380 yards and a pair of touchdowns to Nicholas Edwards in the second half as Eastern rallied from season-high deficits of 13 and 12 points. Padron, a junior who transferred that year from Southern Methodist, came off the bench to complete 26-of-38 passes for 381 yards and two touchdowns, and also rushed for one. He replaced starter Vernon Adams Jr., who was 4-of-7 for 82 yards. Brandon Kaufman had nine catches for 161 yards, including two sensational, highlight-reel catches after tipped balls. Senior Greg Herd added seven catches for 108 yards, and Edwards added four for 77 yards and his two scores. Defensively, senior linebacker Zach Johnson had a pair of interceptions in the second half and three tackles, and junior cornerback T.J. Lee had eight tackles and three passes broken up.  Eastern rushed for four touchdowns, but was held to a paltry rushing total for the second-straight year, finishing with no yards on the ground to go along with 463 through the air.

* In the 2011 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. That game essentially kept the Eagles from getting a berth in the FCS Playoffs – the PSU loss was EWU's only setback in its last seven games as Eastern overcame an 0-4 start to finish 6-5. 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 (sixth in school history at the time). Safeties Allen Brown and Jeff Minnerly each had 10 tackles for the Eagles, and true freshman middle linebacker Cody McCarthy also had 10.

* In 2010, 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.

* 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.

* The Eagles have a total of 10 players from Oregon on its roster, including Jesuit High School graduate Miles Weatheroy (starting senior safety). Starting junior wide receiver Kendrick Bourne attended the Milwaukie Arts Academy and played for Milwaukie High School. Starting junior defensive end Samson Ebukam played at David Douglas High School. Four players are from Salem, including starters Jake Withnell (tight end) and Matthew Sommer (nose tackle). Four others played across the Columbia River in Washington in either Vancouver or Camas.

 
 
 

Injury Report

* Although several key starters and backups continue to miss games, Eastern remains as healthy as it's been. An October bye week helped Eastern's injury situation immensely, and only four starters were out of the lineup in games from Oct. 10 to Oct. 31 and only three against Northern Arizona and Montana on Nov. 7 and 14, respectively. Prior to that, seven starters missed the Sacramento State game because of injuries, a week after six starters and several other players missed the Montana State game on Sept. 19. One week earlier than that, four starters were missing from the Northern Iowa game.

* Starting kicker Tyler McNannay (hip flexor) missed his seventh-straight game last week. Starting defensive tackle Andre Lino (ankle) was held out of the last three after getting injured on Oct. 24 versus Northern Colorado. At running back, Sam McPherson (knee) has missed the last three games and Jalen Moore (concussion) was out against Montana. McNannay remains questionable, Moore is doubtful and Lino and McPherson are probable. Starting wide receiver Shaq Hill (knee) hasn't played since EWU's opener and remains out, as is backup center Spencer Blackburn (thumb), who was injured in practices the week before EWU played Montana State.

* Previously, backup Malcolm Williams (hamstring) missed four games from Oct. 17-Nov. 7, but returned to play against Montana. Starting running back Jabari Wilson (ankle) and backup defensive lineman Kaleb Levao (knee) returned to play against Northern Arizona after missing two games. Wide receiver Nic Sblendorio (shoulder) missed EWU's game against Northern Colorado on Oct. 24. Co-starting linebacker Alek Kacmarcik (hamstring) missed the Idaho State and UNC games but returned to play against Weber State. Backup linebacker Kurt Calhoun (hamstring) missed three-straight games from Oct. 10-24. Starting offensive tackle Cassidy Curtis (foot) missed five games after undergoing surgery on Sept. 10, but was able to return and play limited snaps at Northern Colorado on Oct. 24. Backup wide receiver Simba Webster (knee) missed the ISU game. Offensive tackle Clay DeBord (concussion) missed the Cal Poly game, snapping his streak of consecutive Eagle games started at 24. He returned to play Oct. 17 versus Idaho State, as did backup running back Sam McPherson (ankle) who missed two games. Cassidy Curtis' replacement at tackle for the Northern Iowa game, Jerrod Jones (knee/shin), missed the Montana State game. Jones then started in place of DeBord against Cal Poly on Oct. 10. Running back Jalen Moore (ankle) missed three games before returning against Cal Poly in a limited role. Defensive end Jonah Jordan (ankle) and rover Todd Raynes (hamstring) also returned to play against Cal Poly after missing two games. In addition, safety Mitch Fettig (shoulder) and backup quarterback Reilly Hennessey (ankle) were held out of the Sac State game. In the first half against Sac State, receiver Nic Sblendorio (shoulder) and cornerback Victor Gamboa (concussion) were injured and missed the second half, but returned to play versus Cal Poly. Strong-side linebacker Jake Gall (hip pointer) missed the MSU game and safety Zach Bruce (shoulder) missed the contest at Northern Iowa. Reserve wide receiver Jalani Phelps (ankle) was also unavailable against MSU. Earlier this season, Cooper Kupp (hip pointer) and Hennessey missed significant playing time in the second half against UNI with injuries. The injuries also took away EWU's top kickoff returner (Hill) and punt returner (Kupp) from Eastern's arsenal against Northern Iowa, as well as the team's two holders on placekicks (Kupp and Hennessey).

 
 

Quoting Beau Baldwin

On Portland State: "They do a great job in turnover margin – they are strong with how they hold the ball and take care of it on offense. And they have an extremely good defense that flies around and plays with tremendous effort. A lot of time effort is what causes turnovers, so you can see that. It's one of the better Big Sky teams we've played in the past few years and that's why they are doing some of the great things they are doing this year."

On PSU Game: "It's huge – it's already the playoffs in a sense, and even then nothing is guaranteed if we win. I do know one thing, if we aren't able to earn a win we won't be playing again. But if we are able to earn a win we're at the mercy (of the selection committee). The bottom line is we have to find a way to put together a good last football game of the regular season. Whatever happens after that we'll see."

On Montana Loss: "We felt it get away from us again in terms of mistakes, turnovers and things like that. There are just things we have to continue to clean up. We're just not at a point -- and not many teams are – to withstand some of our own mistakes. I give Montana credit – they did a lot of great things and forced some of our mistakes and put themselves in a position to take a lead. Losing is hard, and it's not easy losing in this fashion when they got after us pretty darn good. As a competitor it hurts and it stings. But we have to find a way to bounce back next week – that's all we can do as a program."

On Blowouts Last Two Weeks: "We have to find ways to snap back out of that. We've had snowballs before and we've been in situations where we've felt it. But it hasn't gone for this long. Those are things we have to look at and work on this next week."

On Plan Using Three Quarterbacks: "I felt good about it in the first half with what we were doing. We had different packages where they were going to be in the game – they were all invested into the week. They were all excited about their roles. I felt it could have been a very successful plan to maximize each of their skills in different spots. But we got down early and Reilly went out and Jordan was in. But it was good for Gage to get some action and some true game reps. He came in and did some good things."

On Winning Close Games: "You can be a talented team, but you have to have the guts and mindset late. If you don't have it, your season is going to end at some point. You have to have that mindset and mentality that it doesn't matter what just happened, but you have to keep responding. If we do that, we have a shot. That's where we are as a team. It doesn't matter if we're in the 10s, 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s – we're going to play in different kinds of ballgames and we have to adjust as we go. We have to embrace it."

On Comeback Victories Since 2010: "It starts with our message to them and how we are going to handle those situations, but we have to live it – if we tell them to be calm then we better be calm. And then it bleeds through seniors and juniors who have experienced comeback wins. They pass that knowledge down in a certain sense. It's our culture and what we believe in. It doesn't mean you are going to win every one, but you give yourself a better opportunity in the long run. We talk about it all the time that panic will definitely lead to defeat. But if you don't panic, you can fight and claw your way back in it."

 
 

Career Starts by Returning Players

Defense (209 starts by 22 players): Miquiyah Zamora 32, Samson Ebukam 23, Matthew Sommer 23, Todd Raynes 22, Victor Gamboa 20, Rashad  Wadood 13 (now a running back), Zach Bruce 9, Nzuzi Webster 9, Andre Lino 7, Miles Weatheroy 7, Mitch Fettig 8, Keenan Williams 8, Jake Gall 7, Jake Hoffman 4, Alek Kacmarcik 3, Frank Cange 3, Cole Karstetter 3, Albert Havili 2, Jay-Tee Tiuli 2, Kaleb Levao 1, D'londo Tucker 1, Jonah Jordan 1, Conner Baumann 1.

Offense (275 starts by 22 players): Clay DeBord 50, Cooper Kupp 38, Thomas Gomez 24, Aaron Neary 23, Jake Withnell 19, Kendrick Bourne 18, Zach Wimberly 13, Cassidy Curtis 15, Jordan West 13, Shaq Hill 12, T.J. Boatright 13, Jabari Wilson 9, Terry Jackson II 8, Nic Sblendorio 5, Nick Ellison 4, Jalen Moore 3, Jerrod Jones 2, Terence Grady 2, Reilly Hennessey 1, Simba Webster 1, Jay Deines 1, Conner Baumann 1 (as fullback).

 
 

Previous Game Recap

* The 10th-ranked Eagles had six turnovers and allowed No. 22 Montana to open leads of 27-3 in the first half and 50-9 in the third quarter in a resounding 57-16 Big Sky Conference loss to the Grizzlies Saturday (Nov. 14) at Washington-Grizzly Stadium in Missoula, Mont. The turnover total included two that were returned for scores by Montana. The Grizzlies took a 27-3 lead just 20 minutes into the game, then scored 20 points in the first 7:21 of the second half. In the opening half, Eastern had a pair of turnovers, one on a fourth-down conversion attempt. The Grizzlies scored after both, as well as after another failed fourth-down attempt. The result was a 27-3 hole with 10:03 left in the first half. Eastern trailed 20-3 and had the ball early in the second quarter when Reilly Hennessey was sacked by the Grizzlies and fumbled. Herbert Gamboa scooped it up and ran 33 yards for a touchdown. The Eagles also turned the ball over in their own territory three of the first four times they had the ball in the second half, and Montana turned them into 13 points and a 50-9 lead. Junior Cooper Kupp finished with six taches for 118 yards, and also had a 21-yard touchdown pass in the first half. The two-time FCS All-America wide receiver Cooper Kupp now has career totals of 37 catches for 520 yards and three touchdowns in four games against the Griz, as well as a punt return for a TD and a passing score. Sophomore Terence Grady, who had five catches for 61 yards and a touchdown a week ago, had six grabs for 78 yards Saturday. Junior Kendrick Bourne had five catches for 80 yards and touchdown reception from Kupp. Three Eastern quarterbacks combined to complete 22-of-45 passes for 319 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions. Redshirt freshman Reilly Hennessey made his first career start and completed 7-of-12 passes for 113 yards in the first half. He was shaken up on a sack in the second quarter and didn't return. Junior Jordan West was 7-of-19 for 119 yards and two interceptions, and redshirt freshman Gage Gubrud made his Eagle debut at quarterback and finished 7-of-13 for 66 yards, a 1-yard touchdown run and an interception.

* Redshirt freshman linebacker Alek Kacmarcik led the Eagles with 11 tackles. Senior rover Todd Raynes finished with nine tackles and broke-up a pass, junior linebacker Miquiyah Zamora had eight tackles and a pass broken up, and sophomore Jake Gall added seven stops. True freshman defensive end Keenan Williams also had seven tackles. Victor Gamboa forced a fumble and recovered it at the EWU 32-yard line, leading to a 21-yard touchdown pass from Kupp to Bourne. Montana converted five of nine third downs in the first half, plus both of its fourth down conversions. Eastern, meanwhile was just 1-of-7 on third down and 1-of-3 on fourth down. Montana led in total yards in the first half 315-303, and had just one turnover to EWU's two. Eastern also had a touchdown pass from Jordan West to Cooper Kupp with two seconds left in the first half nullified by a procedure penalty. In the game, Eastern was just 2-of-15 on third down while Grizzlies converted half of theirs (9-of-18).

 
 
 
 
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