After going 3-2 on the road thus far, Eastern can enjoy comforts of "The Inferno" for three of their last four, including this week's milestone game for Beau Baldwin
2015 Eagle Football
#5 Eastern Washington University "Eagles"
Weber State University "Wildcats"
Roos Field (8,600) • Cheney, Washington
EWU Coach: Beau Baldwin (Central Washington '96)
School Record: 72-27/49-11 Big Sky Conference (8th Season)
Career Record: 82-30 (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: 5-2/4-0 Big Sky
2014: 11-3/7-1 Big Sky (OUTRIGHT CHAMPIONS; FCS Playoffs)
Last Game: #7 EWU 43, Northern Colorado 41 (Oct. 24 in Greeley, Colo.)
TV: ROOT Sports & DirecTV Audience Network (Tom Glasgow, Jason Stiles, Brad Adam).
Radio: 700-AM ESPN in Spokane. Larry Weir returns for his 25th season calling the play-by-play, with analysis handled by Paul Sorensen. 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. . . . 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.
But the Wildcats are anything but that, and will try to do some trick or treating at Roos Field this Saturday (Oct. 31) when they play fifth-ranked Eastern Washington University for a Big Sky Conference showdown. It will be the 100th game in the Eastern head coaching career of Beau Baldwin, who ranks among the top seven coaches in Big Sky history for winning percentage overall (72.7 percent, 72-27) and in league games (81.7 percent, 49-11).
Kickoff is 12:10 p.m. Pacific time at "The Inferno" and the game will be broadcast live nationally via ROOT Sports and the DirecTV Audience Network. Fans may 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.
Eastern has won 21 of its last 22 league games, and have been victorious in 18-straight regular season home games. But every week is its own, as far as Baldwin is concerned.
"The past is the past," he said. "Anything that is going to happen at home this week and in November all has to be earned by this year's team. Weber State doesn't care about what our record has been in the past and what our home record is. They are going to be excited to come up here, like they should be. They'll give their very best to get a win, and we have to be humbled to the fact that we'll be in another battle with another great Big Sky team. It's going to take everybody making great effort on every play."
The Eagles are now 5-2 on the season with a five-game winning streak, and are a perfect 4-0 in the Big Sky standings. Weber State, coming off a 52-36 loss at Northern Arizona, won at Montana 24-21 on Oct. 10 and at Northern Colorado 38-17 on Sept. 26. Coupled with a 32-14 victory against Sacramento State, WSU had a collective 39-point winning margin against a pair of teams EWU beat by just 10. The Wildcats are 4-4 overall and 3-2 in the league.
Eastern is 3-2 on the road thus far this season, and its only home games were victories on Sept. 19 against Montana State (55-50) and Cal Poly (42-41 in overtime). Four of Eastern's victories have come by a collective 16 points, including last week's 43-41 triumph at Northern Colorado, won on a 44-yard field goal by Jordan Dascalo on the game's final play.
"It definitely helps to be at home, but these road games have tested us," said Baldwin. "Playing five of seven on the road, and traveling on back-to-back weeks has been good for us. There's no question we'll get that home field energy. It should have its advantages. But at same time, we still have to play a Weber State team who is playing well. Then Northern Arizona, at Montana and Portland State – my goodness it doesn't get any easier. It's going to be a grind. All we have to focus on now is Halloween against Weber State."
With Cooper Kupp breaking records right and left, the Eagles continue to lead the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision in passing (409.1 per game) and are fifth in total offense (547.3). Kupp became the all-time leading receiver in Big Sky Conference history last week after setting school records versus the Bears with 20 catches for 275 yards. He had three touchdown catches to increase his career total to 52 in just 35 career games, and is now only six behind the FCS record of 58. In all, he has set 13 EWU, four Big Sky and six FCS records as an Eagle.
Ranked for the 53rd-straight time, Eastern is up two spots to a season-best fifth in this week's STATS FCS Top 25 poll, and are up nine positions since beginning the season 0-2. Eastern is also No. 5 in the coaches poll.
Team Game Notes
* Eastern is up to a season-high fifth in this week's STATS Top 25 poll. The Eagles dropped from sixth to 14th after successive losses to open the year, but has been climbing the rankings ever since on the basis of a five-game winning streak. In all, four of EWU's 10 FCS opponents are currently in the STATS poll, including Portland State (#12), Montana (#17), Northern Iowa (#18) and Montana State (#19). The Eagles have now been ranked in The Sports Network Poll 53-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 also ranked fifth.
* Sensational junior wide receiver Cooper Kupp continued his assault on the record books against Northern Colorado on Oct. 24, and was rewarded with STATS FCS Offensive Player of the Week honors, as well as the same honor from NCAA.com. He earned his second Big Sky Conference Player of the Week honor of the season and career on offense, a week after earning BSC Special Teams Player of the Week accolades. College Sports Madness also awarded him the same honor and Hero Sports selected him as its FCS Stud of the Week. He finished with school records of 20 catches and 275 yards against the Bears, and also scored three touchdowns. His catch total was the eighth-most in FCS history and the most by a wide receiver in Big Sky history (Montana State running back David Pandt had 21 versus EWU in 1985). His yards were the 20th-most all-time in the FCS. He had seven catches for 130 yards and a touchdown in the decisive fourth quarter alone, including six for first downs and another 17-yard gain that would have been a first down if not for a penalty downfield on the play. In all, 15 of his catches resulted in first downs or touchdowns, including seven on third or fourth down. His performance brought his career totals to 281 receptions, 4,338 yards and 52 touchdowns. A pair of second quarter grabs broke the previous league receptions record of 268 held by Kasey Dunn of Idaho (1988-91). A 19-yard reception during a last-minute touchdown drive in the second quarter surpassed the previous league record of 4,140 yards held by EWU's Eric Kimble (2002-05). Kupp has played only 35 games in his career, and finds himself within striking distance of several FCS records, including the touchdown record. He now has 52 TD receptions in his career, just six behind the record of 58. With his 20 catches, Kupp broke the previous record of 17 set by Aaron Boyce versus Montana on Oct. 6, 2007. His 275 yards was the fourth time he has had at least 200, and broke the previous school record of 264 set by Jason Anderson versus Montana on Sept. 17, 1994.
* 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 will coach in his 100th game at Eastern when the Eagles host Weber State on Oct. 31 at Roos Field in Cheney. He owns a 72-27 record in seven-plus seasons to currently rank seventh in the 52-year history of the Big Sky with a .727 winning percentage. His 81.7 percent winning percentage in league games (49-11) is fifth all-time in the league.
* The Eagles are now 33-5 all-time on the red turf at "The Inferno" and have won 18 regular season games in a row at Roos Field. Three of the losses have come the past three seasons in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision Playoffs, and EWU's last regular season loss came in the final home game of the 2011 season against Portland State (43-26). The recent playoff losses included 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 25-2 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.
* With a Roos Field crowd of 10,352 versus Cal Poly on Oct. 10, Eastern has now had 12-consecutive sell-out crowds at "The Inferno" and 24 all-time in stadium history. The crowd against the Mustangs was the 10th most in stadium history, which is in its 49th season of existence in 2015. Eastern's crowd of 10,912 against Montana State on Sept. 19 is the fifth-most.
* The Eagles are 31-3 in their last 34 Big Sky games since a 0-2 start in 2011. Eastern has won 21 of its last 22 league games, and until an Oct. 25, 2014, loss at Northern Arizona, EWU had won 14 in a row. Eastern's current streak is seven games.
* 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 leads FCS in passing yards (409.1 per game) and completion percentage (68.7 percent). The Eagles are also third in passing efficiency (174.1), fifth in total offense (547.3) and seventh in scoring offense (41.4) 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's 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 of its last three games coming down to the wire, 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 Mustangs, 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).
* With 106 offensive plays against Northern Colorado on Oct. 24, Eastern broke the school record of 100 plays set two times previously in a 56-35 victory over Sam Houston State in 2014, and in a 42-14 win over Northern Arizona in 2005. Eastern finished with the sixth-most yards in school history with 648 while the Bears, who returned a punt and a kickoff for a touchdown against EWU, had 61 plays for 410 yards -- a total of 167 plays and 1,048 yards. The EWU-SHSU game featured two up-tempo teams who combined for 185 plays and 1,166 yards, 60 first downs and 91 points. In the road win in 2005, Eastern had 583 yards of offense compared to just 185 on 40 plays for the Lumberjacks. The EWU record for most combined plays in a game is 189 in 2009 when the Eagles had 99 and Stephen F. Austin had 90 in the FCS Playoffs. The 189 total plays yielded 1,158 yards of offense.
* Eastern has had 10 50-point games in the last four seasons (including 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).
* In November and beyond since 2004, the Eagles are 38-10, including an 11-7 record in the FCS Playoffs. Since 2010, Eastern is now 23-3 overall in November and beyond, with the lone setbacks coming in the FCS Playoffs to Illinois State in 2014 (quarterfinals), Towson in 2013 (semifinals) and Sam Houston State in 2012 (semifinals).
* Eastern has won its last 19 regular season games in November, dating back to a 15-13 loss to Sacramento State on Nov. 1, 2008. Since 2004, EWU has lost just three regular season games in November (Sac State, Weber State in 2006 and Cal Poly in 2005), with an overall record of 27-3.
Player Game Notes
* Just six touchdown catches away from the FCS career record, Eastern wide receiver Cooper Kupp continues to lead FCS in receiving touchdowns (15), receiving yards (1,216), receiving yards per game (173.7), receptions (84) and receptions per game (14.5), and is second in scoring (13.7 per game). His numbers are so extreme he is 21 catches, 344 yards and five 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 is coming off school records of 20 catches for 275 yards in a 43-41 win over Northern Colorado. 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 52 touchdown catches in his career, moving him this season from 19th to second in FCS history.
* Essentially EWU's third-string kicker entering the season, punter Jordan Dascalo made a 44-yard field goal as time expired to give EWU a 43-41 victory over Northern Colorado on Oct. 24 in Greeley, Colo. With starter Tyler McNannay missing his fourth-straight game with a hip flexor injury, kicking duties have fallen to Brandyn Bangsund (extra points) and Dascalo (kickoffs/field goals), who made his only other field goal attempt this season with a 38-yarder against Idaho State. However, after Bangsund had an extra point blocked and missed one versus UNC, Dascalo also took over that duty and made all four attempts before his winning field goal. He also punted four times for a 46.0 average and a long of 59, with two of his punts downed inside the UNC 20-yard line. He kicked off six times, and had a 55.8 average with two touchbacks. For the season, Dascalo has punted 28 times for a 40.5 average to rank 44th in FCS. Eight of his punts have been downed inside the opponent 20-yard line, and he has also averaged 58.1 yards on 28 kickoffs with 10 touchbacks.
* Sophomore linebacker Jake Gall has led the Eagles in tackles the last two games, including eight and a key fumble recovery against Northern Colorado on Oct. 24. After Eastern punted to open the second half, the Bears drove 87 yards on 11 plays before committing its first turnover of the game at the EWU 2-yard line. Gall had 15 tackles one game earlier against Idaho State, and in six games this season he has 45 tackles to rank second on the team.
* Junior wide receiver Kendrick Bourne has compiled some impressive statistics of his own this season for the Eagles, and 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. In FCS statistics this week, Bourne is 11th in receiving touchdowns (7), 14th in receiving yards (676), 13th in receiving yards per game (96.6) and 11th in receptions per game (7.1). He has 109 catches for 1,607 yards and 19 touchdowns (11th in EWU history) in his 35-game Eastern career.
* 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. 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 39 Eastern games (19 as a starter) and has 128 tackles, seven 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 was one of 25 players (including EWU receiver Cooper Kupp) named by STATS on Oct. 7 to its updated watch list for FCS Offensive Player of the Year. West has set two school records individually and one team record in three different games this season. The former invited walk-on leads FCS in passing yards per game (359.7), total passing yards (2,518) and points responsible for per game (24.3). He is also second in passing touchdowns (26), third in completion percentage (.697), fourth in passing efficiency (174.6), fourth in total offense (366.1 per game) and eighth in passing yards per attempt (9.19). West has now started 11 games in his career (8-3 record) and has a career passing efficiency rating of 164.0 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 67 percent of his passes for 3,590 yards, 35 touchdowns and six 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 110 starts between them, including a trio who have combined for 88 career starts. Preseason All-America tackle Clay DeBord has a team-leading 47 starts, while All-America guard Aaron Neary has started 20. In addition, Thomas Gomez has 21, Cassidy Curtis has 12 and T.J. Boatright has 10. 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 -- 45 of a possible 48 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.
* Junior Jalen Moore made the first start of his career at Northern Colorado on Oct. 24 and finished with 128 yards rushing on 23 attempts. Playing in just his fourth game of the season after missing three full games with an ankle sprain, he was replacing starter Jabari Wilson, who had the same injury and did not make the trip. Cornerback D'londo Tucker also 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. Although he caught just one pass for two yards, he is EWU's fourth-leading receiver through six games with 12 catches for 128 yards. He has also added seven special teams tackles.
* 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 six less games played than the eventual NFL Hall of Famer, two-time All-America wide receiver Cooper Kupp has already surpassed Rice for career touchdown receptions and is nearing his marks for receptions and 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 52 touchdown catches in his career, ranking second in FCS history – two ahead of the legendary receiver from Mississippi Valley (1981-84) and six 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 also ranking second is Terrell Hudgins (2006-09) with 52. Kupp has played just 35 games while all the others in the top five have played at least the 41 Rice played. In fact, Kupp is the only player in the top 26 in FCS history with less than 36 games played. He 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. Kupp's career catches total of 281 trails Rice by just 20 (301, eighth in FCS history), and his receiving yards total of 4,338 are 355 behind (4,693, second in FCS history)
* On other FCS career leaders lists, Kupp is 14th with 281 receptions and fourth with 4,338 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 No. 2 in TD catches, and the record is 58 held by David Ball of New Hampshire (2003-06).
* It's been a record-breaking month of October for Cooper Kupp, with more on the horizon. He set the Big Sky career receptions and receptions 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 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 15.5 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 54 total scores to equal Kimble's school record of 54. Kupp has 4,696 career all-purpose yards to rank fourth in school history, but is well behind Kimble's total of 5,934.
* Already with six FCS records, 13 school marks and four Big Sky records, Kupp has averaged a TD reception for every 5.4 catches so far in his career. He has scored at least once in 30 of 35 games he has played, with 20 performances of at least eight catches and 21 with at least 100 receiving yards. Kupp has started all 35 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 15.4 yards per catch (281-4,338), Kupp has had 21 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 set EWU's single season school record for receptions with 104 in 2014, breaking the record of 96 previously set by his wide receivers coach, Nicholas Edwards in 2011. As a result, Kupp became the 19th player in FCS history to hit the century mark in a single season. His mark ranked 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. He finished the year with 1,431 receiving yards and 16 touchdowns. He closed the year 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 to rank as the eighth-most in school history.
* 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."
* Eastern leads the all-time series against Weber State 18-14, but is just 8-5 in games played in Cheney. Eastern has won the last two meetings at Roos Field, but were thumped two years earlier at home by a 31-13 score. Eastern has won the last four meetings, but two of them were decided by six points. Eastern is 8-8 in Ogden, including victories five of the last six times the Eagles and Wildcats have met there. Eastern is also 2-1 versus WSU in games played at Albi Stadium in Spokane
* In the last meeting in 2013 in Cheney, quarterback Vernon Adams accounted for five touchdowns, Mario Brown rushed for 98 and the defense did the rest as sixth-ranked Eastern romped past Weber State 41-19 on Oct. 5, 2015, at Roos Field. The Eagles rushed for 279 yards and passed for 214 in their league opener. The Wildcats managed only 249 yards – 109 rushing and 140 passing -- against an Eagle defense that allowed 1,086 yards in its previous two games. Eastern had a 165-14 advantage in the third quarter as the EWU turned a 15-point halftime lead into a 29-point bulge entering the final quarter. In just three quarters of action, Adams finished the game 16-of-23 for 194 yards and four touchdowns, and also added 66 yards and a TD on the ground. Redshirt freshman Cooper Kupp led the Eagles with five catches for 87 yards and a pair of first-quarter touchdowns. Brown had 10 rushes for 98 yards (9.8 per carry), and added two catches for 20 more yards. Three other Eagle running backs combined for 114 yards – Quincy Forte with 51, Demitrius Bronson with 40 and a touchdown and Jalen Moore with 23. Defensively, linebackers Cody McCarthy and Ronnie Hamlin led the Eagles with nine and eight tackles, respectively. Redshirt freshman Miquiyah Zamora added five tackles and an interception in his first career start. The Eagles scored 14 points before halftime to take a 27-12 lead. The defense took over in the third quarter, holding Weber State to just 14 yards of offense. Meanwhile, Eastern's offense got hot and had 165 yards in the quarter, scoring back-to-back touchdowns on drives of 65 and 71 yards.
* In 2012 in Ogden, Vernon Adams made his first career start – an unannounced one -- in EWU's 32-26 victory, and used his arm and his feet to lead EWU to a 20-3 halftime lead. Adams led Eastern to scores on four of five drives in the first half, including a 75-yard touchdown march on his first drive as an Eagle. He finished the game 7-of-12 for 75 yards, and ran five times for 62 yards, but missed most of the second half with cramping. Of his five rushes, four were for first downs; of his seven completions, four more resulted in EWU first downs.
* In 2011 in Cheney, Eastern notched its first victory of the season by holding off Weber State 27-21. Weber State rallied from a 24-7 halftime deficit, but Eastern sealed it when Charles Moetului forced a fumble with 21 seconds left that was recovered by teammate Anthony Larry after the Wildcats had driven to the EWU 17-yard line. Linebacker Ronnie Hamlin had 11 tackles and a pass broken up to lead the way on defense, with fellow backers J.C. Agen and Cody McCarthy adding eight and seven tackles, respectively. Nicholas Edwards caught 10 passes for 115 yards, and Greg Herd had 92 yards on three grabs.
* In Ogden in 2010, Eastern scored 21-straight second-half points to surge past the Wildcats 35-24. Bo Levi Mitchell passed for 337 yards and four touchdowns and the defense had three interceptions that led to scores. Brandon Kaufman caught five passes for 138 yards and Tyler Washburn had an interception for the Eagles. Eastern finished with 465 yards of offense, and Weber State finished with 459 after having just 150 in the first half. But most importantly for the Eagles, Eastern had leads after all four quarters -- including an 11-point winning margin.
* In 2008, Eastern ended the season with a 33-26 victory over the playoff-bound Wildcats, keeping them from being the first team other than Montana to win the outright Big Sky title since EWU did it in 1997. It enabled Montana to share the league title -- its 11th-straight in a streak that ended at 12 when MSU and EWU shared the 2010 championship.
* An October bye week helped Eastern's injury situation immensely, and only four starters were out of the lineup against Cal Poly on Oct. 10. The same number missed EWU's game at Idaho State on Oct. 17 and four against Northern Colorado on Oct. 24, but several other key backups were also missing from those two games. 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 fourth-straight game last week, and starting wide receiver Shaq Hill (knee) hasn't played since EWU's opener and remains out. Starting running back Jabari Wilson (ankle) and wide receiver Nic Sblendorio (shoulder) also did not make the trip to UNC. Co-starting linebacker Alek Kacmarcik (hamstring) missed the Idaho State and UNC games, as did backup defensive lineman Kaleb Levao (knee) and backup running back Malcolm Williams (hamstring). Eastern has been particularly thin at linebacker, with backup Kurt Calhoun (hamstring) missing his third-straight game against Northern Colorado. Starting defensive tackle Andre Lino injured his ankle against Northern Colorado and joins McNannay as doubtful for this week's game against Weber State. Wilson, Sblendorio, Kacmarcik, Levao and Williams are all questionable, and Calhoun is probable.
* Previously, 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, and backup center Spencer Blackburn (thumb) is out for an indefinite time after getting injured in practices the week before EWU played 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 Dascalo's Kick: "When he hit it there was never a doubt – he drilled it. Give him credit, he hasn't kicked a lot of those. He does in practice, but he hasn't been our field goal kicker. But he keeps getting better and better. He just hasn't kicked much in the past. It's like a 340-yard drive down the middle when your down a stroke on the golf course late in a round. That's what kicking is too. It's all between the ears. For him to go out there and hit it like he would at practice with no pressure. That takes a lot of guts."
On Northern Colorado Win: "It was one of those hard-fought games on the road. At different times they felt in control, and then we felt in control up 12. But give them credit – they made plays. Ultimately it took us to go down and make a big field goal by Dascalo."
On Small Different Between Victory & Defeat: "You can't let the band aid of winning make you think everything is alright. Regardless of the end result, we have to attack the next week the same way. We have to grade and be critical, but also be positive about all the things that are good and bad during the other 59 minutes and 55 seconds. You have to stay as even keel as you can and keep grinding the next week."
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."
On Injuries Along Offensive Line: "Coach Aaron Best has been one of the best coaches I've ever seen of taking whatever group he has and getting them ready to compete. It's true that continuity can make you great up front, but coach Best will never use the injuries as an excuse for doing what we need to do as an offense. He's done a great job of that and developing the depth. And the players took on the challenge and are practicing and competing as starters. They are doing a great job with that."
Career Starts by Returning Players
Defense (176 starts by 21 players): Miquiyah Zamora 29, Samson Ebukam 20, Matthew Sommer 20, Todd Raynes 19, Victor Gamboa 17, Rashad Wadood 13 (now a running back), Andre Lino 7, Zach Bruce 7, Miles Weatheroy 6, Nzuzi Webster 6, Mitch Fettig 5, Keenan Williams 5, Jake Gall 4, Jake Hoffman 4, Alek Kacmarcik 3, Frank Cange 3, Cole Karstetter 3, Albert Havili 2, D'londo Tucker 1, Jonah Jordan 1, Conner Baumann 1.
Offense (242 starts by 21 players): Clay DeBord 47, Cooper Kupp 35, Thomas Gomez 21, Aaron Neary 20, Jake Withnell 17, Kendrick Bourne 15, Zach Wimberly 13, Cassidy Curtis 12, Shaq Hill 12, Jordan West 11, T.J. Boatright 10, Jabari Wilson 8, Terry Jackson II 6, Nic Sblendorio 4, Nick Ellison 4, Jerrod Jones 2, Jalen Moore 1, Terence Grady 1, Simba Webster 1, Jay Deines 1, Conner Baumann 1 (as fullback).
Previous Game Recap
* Sophomore punter Jordan Dascalo made a 44-yard field goal with no time remaining on a day in which Cooper Kupp became the league's all-time leader in receptions and reception yards, lifting Eastern past Northern Colorado 43-41 Oct. 24 at Nottingham Field in Greeley, Colo. The Eagles rallied from deficits five times, and needed a nine-play, 49-yard drive that took 1:19 off the clock to set-up Dascalo's game-winning kick. That came after UNC scored with 1:23 to play on a three-play drive following a successful onside kick. Normally EWU's punter, Dascalo had to take on kicking duties recently as an injury replacement, but was able to secure EWU's 16th victory since 2010 when trailing or tied in the fourth quarter. The Eagles trailed 7-0, 14-12, 21-19, 28-26 and 41-40, and each time responded with scoring drives. Besides the obvious last-second drive, Eastern stopped Northern Colorado on a two-point conversion attempt with 1:23 left, meaning a field goal would win it for the Eagles. Prior to that, EWU took a 12-point fourth quarter lead that they needed every bit of to keep the game close in the final minutes. After taking a 33-28 lead early in the fourth quarter, a sack by Jay-Tee Tiuli and Miquiyah Zamora forced a UNC punt on a three-and-out. The Eagles responded with a 12-play, 63-yard drive that took 4:36 off the clock, including a gutsy fourth-and-five call from midfield. Cooper Kupp came up with a 10-yard touchdown grab on that play, then scored on a catch from 22 yards out to put the Eagles up 40-28 with 5:23 to play. Kupp had three touchdown receptions to give him 52 in his career, and had school records with 20 catches for 275 yards. In the process he upped his career totals to 281 catches for 4,338 yards to break league records. Junior Jordan West had 469 yards of total offense, completing 38-of-59 passes for 428 yards and four touchdowns. He also rushed for 41 yards. Junior Jalen Moore made the first start of his career and finished with 128 yards rushing on 23 attempts. Playing in just his fourth game of the season after missing three full games with an ankle sprain, he was replacing starter Jabari Wilson, who had the same injury and did not make the trip. Sophomore linebacker Jake Gall led the Eagles in tackles for the second-straight game, finishing with eight and a fumble recovery. Senior linebacker Miquiyah Zamora added seven stops.