Eagles look for 4th straight win vs UC Davis - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Eagles look for 4th straight win vs UC Davis

Eagles started the year 0-2 and now look for their 4th straight win. Photo: EWU Athletics Eagles started the year 0-2 and now look for their 4th straight win. Photo: EWU Athletics

By EWU Athletics

The names of the top opposing players on the field may be somewhat unfamiliar this week to fans of the Eagles, but the offensive numbers and head coach will pop out to them.
 
The top two offenses in the Big Sky Conference will square off when the 10th-ranked Eastern Washington University football team plays at UC Davis and new Aggie head coach Dan Hawkins this Saturday (Oct. 7). Kickoff is 6 p.m. Pacific time at Davis, Calif., when EWU plays its fourth road game in the first six outings of the season.
 
There is no television broadcast of the game, but fans can watch the webcast via Pluto TV and watchbigsky.com. Fans can also listen to the game on 700-AM ESPN, 105.3-FM, via the web at tunein.com and via mobile phone app, with pre-game coverage starting one hour prior to kickoff.
 
Both teams are 3-2 overall, and it is uncanny how their statistical numbers from last week and the season match-up. Led by the team's best back-to-back-to-back offensive stretch in school history, the Eagles are third in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision in passing offense at 358.4 per game, and are seventh in total offense (484.6). The Aggies are right behind them at fifth (343.6) and 12th (469.4), respectively, to rank second in the league behind EWU in both categories.
 
"They will get after us and challenge our defense," said Eastern head coach Aaron Best. "They have multiple players who are very talented on offense. They are multi-faceted, they keep you guessing, they are creative in how they do it and they are difficult to defend. We have our work cut out for us on the road. We have to bring our A game, there is no doubt about it."
 
Eastern improved to 2-0 last week in the Big Sky with a 52-31 shootout home win over Sacramento State, piling up 490 passing yards and 651 total in the process. Meanwhile, UC Davis evened its conference mark at 1-1 by doubling-up preseason favorite North Dakota 48-24. The Aggies matched EWU's 651 yards of offense and had 415 passing.
 
While EWU's Gage Gubrud improved his record as Eastern's starter to 14-4 by passing for 447 yards and five touchdown passes to five different receivers, Long Beach City College transfer Jake Maier was starting his fifth game in an Aggie uniform and had 415 yards and four scores. For the season, Gubrud ranks fourth in FCS in passing yards (347.2), third in total offense (368.0), sixth in touchdown passes (13), and second in points responsible for (21.6 per game with a FCS-leading 108 total). Maier is fifth in passing (337.0) and seventh in total offense (333.4), but is also third in completion percentage (.718) and eighth in efficiency (170.2).
 
The top receiver for UC Davis is Keelan Doss, a junior who earned second team All-Big Sky Conference honors a year ago. He ranks fourth in FCS in receptions per game (8.2) and is third in receiving yards (Big Sky-leading 132.4 per game). Eastern's Nic Sblendorio is also fourth in FCS and shares the league lead for receptions (8.2), and is 40th in yards (77.0). Nsimba Webster is 14th in receptions (6.8, total of 34) and 44th in yards (77.2).
 
This is the second-straight home game for UCD against one of the preseason favorites in the Big Sky. Previously, they fell to nationally-ranked Weber State 41-3 in the league opener for both teams, beat Portland State 37-14 in a non-conference game on Sept. 16, beat San Diego 35-7 and fell 38-17 to San Diego State.
 
A year ago, Eastern erupted for 35 points in the third quarter and rolled past UC Davis 63-30 on Oct. 1, 2016, at Roos Field. The Eagles scored all of their points in the first 49:44 of the game en route to EWU's highest-scoring game against a member of FCS and in a Big Sky game. Gubrud had 254 passing yards in the third quarter alone, and finished with 486. Eastern had 627 yards of total offense. UC Davis would go on to finish the year 3-8 overall and 2-6 in the league.
 
Eastern is 5-0 all-time against UC Davis, but 0-1 against Hawkins. Although he coached at nearby Willamette (1993-97) and Boise State (2001-05), Eastern didn't face him until they played Colorado in 2008 in Boulder. Eastern was ahead 24-17 with 3:52 to play, but Colorado scored on a five-play drive to knot the game with 2:05 left. The Buffaloes then went ahead on a 27-yard interception return for a touchdown with 1:44 remaining. Another interception at the CU 30-yard line with three seconds left ended EWU's upset hopes.
 
Saturday will be the 250th game for Aaron Best associated with the Eastern football program. Now in his 21st year as either a player or a coach, the previous 249 games have yielded a 162-87 record for 65.1 percent.
 
With a three-game winning streak, EWU is 10th in this week's STATS FCS Top-25 rankings. Eastern is also rated 10th this week by the coaches. North Dakota State is No. 2 in both polls, behind defending FCS champion James Madison. Eastern has now been ranked by STATS in 76 of its last 77 polls, and in the top 10 in 17 of the last 19. Eastern had its streak of being in the top 10 snapped at 15 after losing at home 40-13 to the Bison on Sept. 9.
 
 
 

EWU-UC Davis Game Notes

 
With Hot Hand, Gage Gubrud is Sports Madness National Player of the Week
 
The Eagle offense has never been hotter, and junior All-America quarterback Gage Gubrud has the sizzling hand to prove it. He was selected as the College Sports Madness Offensive Player of the Week in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision after accounting for 486 yards and six touchdowns in a 52-31 victory over Sacramento State on Saturday (Sept. 30).
 
In addition, Gubrud a third-straight Big Sky Conference Offensive Player of the Week honor. It's the sixth time in school history he's won the honor, and he becomes the first Eagle to win it three consecutive weeks. Gubrud joins the likes of Travis Lulay of Montana State and Doug Nussmeier and John Friesz of Idaho as other players in league history to garner the award three times in a row.
During Eastern's current three-game winning streak, Gubrud has averaged 465.0 passing yards during the winning streak while completing 69 percent of his passes. He has thrown for 12 touchdowns and accounted for another four (three rushing, one receiving).
 
Gubrud completed 35-of-50 passes as he finished with 447 passing yards and five touchdowns – his third-straight game with at least 399. It was the 14th 300-yard performance of Gubrud's 22-game Eastern career and his eighth of at least 400. The 2014 graduate of McMinnville (Ore.) High School also caught a 43-yard touchdown pass from running back Sam McPherson, and had six rushes for a net loss of four yards. He had a hand in 57 of EWU's 86 offensive plays, resulting in the seventh-most yards in school history with 651.
 
After starting the season 0-2, Eastern has won its last three games by scores of 56-21 (Fordham), 48-41 (Montana) and 52-31. The team's total of 1,918 yards in that stretch – 639.3 per game – has never been matched in school history. The Eagles have averaged 52.0 points and 479.3 passing yards per game during the winning streak, with Gubrud earning Big Sky Conference Offensive Player of the Week honors after the Fordham and Montana games, and receiving honorable mention for national honors after each.
 
 
To a Certain Extent, Eagle Offense Has Been Prolific Beyond Compare
 
The three-game stretch the Eagles are on offensively has never been matched in school history, but last year's team had its own prolific stretch that in some ways even tops what the Eagles have done in 2017.
 
In victories over Fordham (56-21), Montana (48-41) and Sacramento State (52-31), the Eagles have generated 1,918 yards of offense (639.3 per game), 1,438 passing yards (479.3) and 156 points (52.0). The previous best 3-game stretch for total yards was 1,882 set last year in wins over UC Davis (63-30), Northern Colorado (49-31) and Montana State (41-17). But the 2016 team, with an incredible four-game stretch that included a win over Northern Arizona (50-35), had even better three-game totals for points (162) and passing yards (school-record 1,441). The three-game point total of 162 has only been topped by the 2001 squad when EWU scored 66, 42 and 63 in consecutive games (171), but the first game in that stretch was a non-NCAA Division I opponent. Here is how the 2017 and 2016 teams compare:
 
Year – Opponent – Points – Total Yards – Passing Yards
2017 - Fordham – 56 – 650 – 399
2017 – Montana – 48 – 617 – 549
2017 – Sac State – 52 – 651 – 490
3-Game Totals – 156 – 1918 – 1438
Averages – 52.0 – 639.3 – 479.3
 
2016 – Northern Ariz. – 50 – 540 – 392
2016 – UC Davis – 63 – 627 – 486
2016 – Northern Colo. – 49 – 659 – 435
2016 – Montana State – 41 – 596 – 520
Best 3-Game Totals – 162 – 1882 – 1441
Averages – 54.0 – 627.3 – 480.3
4-Game Totals – 203 – 2422 – 1833
Averages – 50.8 – 605.5 – 458.3

  • Thus, EWU is 47 points, 504 total yards and 395 passing yards from matching the 2016 four-game totals.

 
 
Among Eagles in NCAA Rankings, Dre' Sonte Dorton, Albert Havili & Gage Gubrud Are Near the Top
 
Eastern's kickoff return unit has long been impressive, and so far this year the Eagles and Dre' Sonte Dorton are leading the way. With two returns of 51 yards and another of 49 in his last three games, Dorton has averaged 28.1 yards on 11 returns to rank ninth in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision, while the team is 10th at 25.3 per return.
 
Eastern's offense, after a 650-yard onslaught against Fordham, 617 yards versus Montana and 651 against Sacramento State, has rapidly improved into the top six seven in passing and total offense. Eastern is fourth in passing (347.2 per game) and seventh in total offense (484.6), and is also 16th in scoring (35.8). Quarterback Gage Gubrud is fourth in FCS in passing yards (347.2), third in total offense (368.0), sixth in touchdown passes (13), and second in points responsible for (21.6 per game with a FCS-leading 108 total). A year ago he led FCS in both passing and total offense a year ago 368.6 and 411.0, respectively). Nic Sblendorio is fourth in FCS with an average of 8.2 catches per game (41 total) and 40th in yards (77.0 per game). Nsimba Webster is 14th in receptions (6.8) and 44th in yards (77.2)
 
Defensively, Eastern is 12th in sacks at 3.20 per game, with Albert Havili ranking 30th nationally and second in the league with an average of 0.8 per game (total of four). Safety Mitch Fettig has averaged 9.6 tackles per game thus far (total of 48) to rank 87th nationally and seventh in the Big Sky.
 
Besides Dorton, Eastern has some other top-notch returners back from a year ago. Last year as a true freshman, Antoine Custer Jr. averaged 26.7 yards on 14 kickoff returns with a touchdown, with long returns of 93, 55 and 35 yards. Teammate Nsimba Webster had a 65-yard return against UC Davis, but broke his clavicle in the process. Webster had a 25.3 average per return, and EWU's 21.7 average as a team ranked fourth in the Big Sky and 25th nationally. Eastern has returned 18 kickoffs for touchdowns in the past 21 seasons and 19 punts for scores in the same time span (1996 through 2016).
 
 
Jay-Tee Tiuli Lost for Season and Will Redshirt
 
Eastern head coach Aaron Best has announced that starting nose tackle and 2016 first team All-Big Sky Conference performer Jay-Tee Tiuli underwent surgery last week and will miss the remainder of the 2017 season. However, he has not redshirted, so he will be able to return for his senior season in 2018 as an injury redshirt. Tiuli has played in 36 career games (11 as a starter), and has had 77 total tackles with 8 1/2 sacks, three quarterback hurries and two passes deflected. He earned third team preseason All-America honors from stats, and first team all-league accolades from College Sports Madness. Previously, Best announced that starting offensive tackle Kaleb Levao was lost for the remainder of the season as well. Actual injuries suffered by players are not disclosed.
 
 
Eagles Have Impressive 42-6 Big Sky Record Since 0-2 Start in 2011
 
Winners of its last 10 league games, the Eagles have won 42 of their last 48 Big Sky games since a 0-2 start in 2011. Eastern has won 32 of its last 36 league games, with the lone losses coming against Montana and Portland State in 2015 and Northern Arizona in both 2015 and 2014. An Oct. 25, 2014, loss at Northern Arizona snapped EWU's school-record 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 36 of their last 40 versus conference foes, and are 46-6 since the 0-2 start in 2011. As a result, head coach Beau Baldwin left Eastern with a 58-14 Big Sky record for a winning percentage of .806 to rank as the fifth-best in league history. His .726 winning percentage overall (85-32) is seventh all-time in the 53-year history of the Big Sky.
 
 
Eastern Now 39-0 Since 2010 When Winning the TO Battle
 
The Eagles had their first turnover advantage of the 2017 season against Sacramento State, but finishing with no turnovers was the most impressive statistic for the Eagles. The Hornets had entered the game leading FCS with 10 interceptions, and Eastern matched its own total for the year with an interception by senior safety Jake Hoffman. Sac State entered the game fifth in FCS with a +2.0 turnover margin per game, while EWU was -2.0 and ranked 119th out of 123 FCS schools. Prior to that, EWU had lost the turnover battle 3-0 versus Texas Tech, tying North Dakota State 2-2, finishing with a 5-1 deficit against Fordham and losing the battle against Montana 2-1.
 
In the last nine seasons, the Eagles are now 48-1 when they've won the turnover battle, 21-6 when they've been tied and 19-27 when they've lost (total of 88-34). 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 39-0 since 2010 when they've won the turnover battle, 18-5 when they've been tied and 17-20 when they've lost. That's a collective record of 74-25 (75 percent), with 20 of those 25 losses (80 percent) coming in games EWU has lost the turnover battle and 53 percent of EWU's wins coming when they've won the turnover battle (77 percent when including ties).
 
After going six games without winning the turnover battle in 2016 (including the first three), Eastern had turnover advantages in six of its last 12 games, including a 7-1 advantage in its two playoff victories. The Eagles had a dominating 5-1 advantage over Richmond, and one game earlier had a 2-0 advantage over Central Arkansas. But EWU lost the turnover battle 2-1 to Youngstown State, as EWU finished the season 6-0 when it won the turnover battle, 2-2 when it lost and 4-0 when it was tied.
 
 
Challenging Schedule Proving to Be Just That
 
Eastern's three non-conference foes in 2017 are so far 7-5, including a pair of victories over the Eagles. North Dakota State leads the way at 4-0, Texas Tech is 3-1 after a seven-point loss to 15th-ranked Oklahoma State, and Fordham is 1-4. Those three foes combined to win 68 percent of their games overall in 2016 (25-12), 65 percent in league play (15-8) and 67 percent in the postseason (2-1). By contrast, Eastern's non-conference opponents in 2016 were 31-11 overall the year before for 74 percent, 18-7 in league play (72 percent) and 7-1 in the postseason (88 percent). The Eagles emerged from that gauntlet with a 2-1 record.
 
After finishing a perfect 8-0 in league play a year ago, Eastern's eight Big Sky Conference foes this coming season combined for a 40-50 record overall and 30-34 league mark in 2016. Two of the opponents – North Dakota and Weber State – advanced to the FCS Playoffs and were a collective 16-8 on the season and 14-2 in the Big Sky.
 
 
First Starts of Careers Made by Six Eagles in First Five Games
 
The most recent starting debut for the Eagles this season was made against Sacramento State on Sept. 30 when sophomore Jayson Williams made his first start when EWU began with a four receiver set. He had three catches for 74 yards, including 59-yarder in the first quarter that set-up Eastern's first touchdown of the day in the 52-31 win.
 
Redshirt freshman offensive tackle Brett Thompson saw significant action at Fordham, then the 2016 graduate of Olympia (Wash.) High School made the first start of his career in Eastern's come-from-behind 48-41 victory against Montana. Starting offensive guard Matt Meyer was injured and missed the Montana game, and previously Kaleb Levao was lost for the season with a knee injury. The result was three different starting offensive lines in three games (NDSU, Fordham and Montana), with three players starting multiple positions (Tristan Taylor, Chris Schlichting and Jack Hunter).
 
Junior tight end Henderson Belk was listed as a starter against Texas Tech, but EWU began with four wide receivers instead. Belk, though, made his starting debut one game later versus North Dakota State. Against Fordham on Sept. 16, sophomore defensive nose tackle Dylan Ledbetter made the first start of his career as an injury replacement for Jay-Tee Tiuli, who has also now been lost for the season. Ledbetter, whose father, Mark, lettered as a linebacker at Washington State from 1986-89, had a career-high eight tackles and two of EWU's 10 sacks. He entered the game with 34 tackles and 2 1/2 sacks in his previous 16 games as an Eagle. Also, junior wide receiver Zach Eagle made his first start as an Eagle wide receiver and caught a pass for 14 yards and had two punt returns.
 
When EWU played at Texas Tech on Sept. 2, a total of 21 of 22 starters hit the field with starting experience under their belts. Six full-time starters returned on each side of the ball, plus all of the team's specialists from a year ago. An additional five starters on offense and four on defense had previously started for the Eagles. The lone starting debut came on defense when sophomore Jack Sendelbach started in place of Ketner Kupp (ankle) on defense.
 
Eight freshman redshirts made their Eastern debuts against Texas Tech on Sept. 2 – Eric Barriere, Talolo Limu-Jones, Calin Criner, Keith Moore, Rudolph Mataia Jr., Brett Thompson, Nicholas Blair and Conner Crist. Three true freshmen made their debuts in an Eastern uniform, including Anfernee Gurley, Johnny Edwards IV and Chris Ojoh. Three other true freshmen were on Eastern's travel squad and did not play -- quarterback Nick Moore, cornerback Ira Branch, and wide receiver Andrew Boston. They remain redshirts, as well as junior defensive end Jim Townsend.
 
In addition, Aaron Best made his head coaching debut versus the Red Raiders. It came versus the same team former head coach Beau Baldwin made his EWU head coaching debut against back on Aug. 30, 2008, in a 49-24 Red Raider victory. Interestingly, Best is a 1996 graduate of Curtis High School in Tacoma, Wash., and Baldwin graduated from the same school six years earlier. Best was making his debut as Baldwin's offensive line coach in that 2008 game.
 
 
 
Career Starts
 
Defense (214 starts by 18 players): Andre Lino 27, Mitch Fettig 27, Nzuzi Webster 24, Victor Gamboa 22, Albert Havili 21, Josh Lewis 15, Keenan Williams 14, Jay-Tee Tiuli 11, Cole Karstetter 10, Jake Hoffman 10, D'londo Tucker 9, Ketner Kupp 7, Kurt Calhoun 6, Jack Sendelbach 3, Dylan Ledbetter 2, John Kreifels 2, Jonah Jordan 2, Conner Baumann 2 (including 1 as a fullback).
 
Offense (146 starts by 16 players): Tristen Taylor 19, Chris Schlichting 19, Gage Gubrud 18, Matt Meyer 16, Spencer Blackburn 16, Nic Sblendorio 14, Antoine Custer Jr. 11, Nsimba Webster 7, Jack Hunter 6, Kaleb Levao 4 (including 1 as defensive lineman), Terence Grady 4, Zach Eagle 3, Stu Stiles 2, Henderson Belk 2, Jayce Gilder 2, Brett Thompson 2, Jayson Williams 1.
 
 
 
Gubrud Seeks to Maintain Career Records Marks
 
After setting three FCS, seven Big Sky marks and 18 school records in the 2016 season, junior Gage Gubrud now seeks to maintain a pair of career marks. After 22 games in his career (14-4 in 18 games as a starter), he remains the Eastern career leader in passing yards per game (316.5), completion percentage (.664) and total offense per game (350.0). He is already sixth in passing yards (6,962, 530 from the No. 5 position), fifth in touchdown passes (61, nine from No. 4) and fourth in total offense (7,703, 3,769 from No. 3). If he were to play 17 more games in his career (six this year and 11 as a senior), he would have to average 333 passing yards and 330 yards of total offense to break the school and Big Sky records of 12,616 and 13,308, respectively, set by Matt Nichols from 2006-09.
 
Gubrud already owns seven of the top nine single game total offense performances in school history (1-2-3-4-6-7-9) and six of the top 15 passing performances (1-2-4-7-14-15). In addition, he had an impressive string of 222 passes without an interception in 2016, going four full games in 2016 from Sept. 24 to Oct. 22 without a pick. He had what was then a school-record 551 yards of total offense in the first start of his career, a 45-42 season-opening victory over Washington State of the Pac-12 Conference.
 
 
Roldan Alcobendas Breaks Consecutive Extra Points Record
 
Kicker Roldan Alcobendas tied then broke the school record for most career extra points in a row, making all of seven of his against Fordham on Sept. 16 to extend his streak to 72. He has since extended it to 85. He broke the record of 66 set by Jason Cromer from 1988-90. In his 23-game career, Alcobendas has made 15-of-22 field goals and 117-of-121 extra points. Thus far this year he has made all 22 of his extra point attempts and 6-of-9 field goals.
 
Alcobendas is a 2013 graduate of Camas (Wash.) High School, and had to sit out both the 2013 and 2015 seasons because of knee injuries. He finished the 2016 season 9-of-15 kicking field goals and made 73-of-74 extra points. He made his last 63 extra points in a row in 2016 to shatter the previous season record of 47. His 73 total extra points made in 2016 were one behind the Big Sky Conference record of 74 set by former Eagle Kevin Miller in 2013. He also averaged 54.6 yards on 44 kickoffs with seven touchbacks.
 
Returning to the venue he suffered a season-ending knee injury in 2014, Alcobendas made field goals of 48 and 31 yards and had a career-high 11 total points in EWU's 41-17 victory over Montana State in 2016 to earn Big Sky Conference Special Teams Player of the Week honors. His 48-yarder was the best of his career, and equals the 23rd-longest in school history. He also had a 31-yarder blocked and made all five of his extra point attempts to account for 11 of EWU's points. In addition, he averaged 64.0 yards in three kickoffs, including one touchback.
 
 
Career Average for Dascalo is Fifth Among the Top Punters in School History
 
With a 40.6 average on 21 punts thus far in 2017, Jordan Dascalo has now punted 99 times as an Eagle for a 40.7 career average to rank fifth in school history. He averaged 46.8 yards on six punts in EWU's season-opener against Texas Tech with a long of 58. A pair of his punts were downed inside the 20, and the average starting position for TTU after his six punts was its own 23. Dascalo also kicked off three times, with all three resulting in touchbacks. He had a 62-yard punt at Fordham on Sept. 16, equaling the second-longest of his career (he had a 67-yarder in 2015 versus Montana), and ranking as the 19th-longest in school history. He had a 45.0 average on four punts in that game, with two of them downed inside the 20.
 
In his career, Dascalo has now had 33 punts downed inside the 20. He has had nine punts in his career of at least 56 yards, including a career-long of 67 to rank sixth in school history. He is also 4-of-7 in his EWU career kicking field goals, and has averaged 59.9 yards (6,644 total yards) in 111 career kickoffs with 45 touchbacks.
 
Dascalo, who punted as a freshman in 2014 for Washington State, earned Big Sky Conference Special Teams Player of the Week honors for his performance against his former team on Sept. 3, 2016. He averaged 55.3 yards on three punts, including one downed inside the Cougar 20-yard line. He also kicked a 48-yard field goal on the final play of the first half that started a decisive 17-0 scoring run by the Eagles in the 45-42 win. He also had seven kickoffs for a 57.0 average against WSU with one touchback. His 48-yarder equaled the 23rd-longest in school history and was the best in nearly seven years by an Eagle since Mike Jarrett booted a 49-yarder versus Idaho State on 10/3/09.
 
 
Looking Ahead for Eagles
 
Eastern plays at UC Davis (3-8/2-6 last year) on Oct. 7, then hosts rival Montana State (4-7/2-6) on Oct. 14. An Oct. 21 game at Southern Utah (6-5/5-3) is the first of three-straight games against teams with winning records overall and in league play in 2016. After a bye week on Oct. 28, Eastern hosts Weber State (7-5/6-2) for Homecoming on Nov. 4 and plays at fellow defending Big Sky champion North Dakota (9-3/8-0) on Nov. 11. The regular season closes with Senior Day at Roos Field on Nov. 18 versus Portland State, with the FCS Playoffs beginning the following weekend on Nov. 25.

 

 
More Aaron Best Comments

 
On Improving Each Week: "It's like anything, we want to peak at the right time, and the right time is the latter part of the season. At Fordham we were able to find out what winning was like for this team in 2017. Our team has done a great job through five games on really focusing and believing in the task at hand, and believing in themselves. It's been fun and a great ride, and there are six more on the schedule right now. We are focused on UC Davis at this time."
 
On Beating Sac State: "It's a great team win. We aren't going to play perfect football. But we're going to strive for it and be as close as we can."
 
On Winning Third Straight: On Offense: "We're still not firing on all cylinders. There were some issues early in the game where we threw it real well, but we weren't running it well. We had a little lull on offense in the second quarter. All teams are going to do that whether you are good, bad or indifferent. It's a testament to this team in how resilient they are. We scored late in the second quarter and got on the board again to start the third quarter on our first drive. That's what Eastern football is about and will always be about. Everybody loves to win – it heals a lot of wounds, I'll tell you that."
 
On 651 Yards Versus Hornets: "Jody Sears does a great job with that defense – on film they had a lot of sacks. We tested and challenged our offensive line all week, and our wide receivers and quarterbacks because they led the nation in picks."
 
On Winning Turnover Battle: "It's big. When we win the turnover battle we win games here at Eastern. That's the way it's been."
 
On Winning at Roos Field: "It was nice to be back on the red again. That was a good football team we beat, there was no doubt about it. We always focus on one at a time and we'll relish in this win. We played well – I'm going to pat those players on the back. I want to see smiles on their faces and then we'll get to next week on Sunday."
 
On Heading Back on Road: "This team knows what it takes to win. We've done it three times now, but we don't want to change up the script too much. We're in a groove and we want to stay in the groove. We're going to be on the road, so we have to get in our road manner and mind frame."
 
 
 

More Team Notes

 
Eagles Have Now Won 22 Games Since 2010 When Trailing or Tied in Fourth Quarter
 
Eastern has now won 22 games since 2010 when trailing or tied in the fourth quarter, including one this season, two in 2016 and 2015, one in 2014, two in 2013, six in 2012, two in 2011 and six during EWU's national championship season in 2010. Last season, Eastern had rallies versus both Northern Iowa and Portland State. Facing deficits of 24-7 at halftime and 24-21 entering the final quarter, Eastern rallied for a 34-30 win over Northern Iowa on Sept. 17. After a 21-0 scoring run overcame the deficit and gave Eastern the lead early in the fourth quarter, the Eagles actually trailed 30-28 with 4:13 left. But the Eagles rallied behind the relief quarterbacking of Reilly Hennessey, and his 23-yard touchdown pass to Beau Byus with 43 seconds remaining capped an 11-play, 75 yard drive. That TD came on a fake when EWU elected against a 40-yard field goal attempt against the wind. In 35-28 victory at Portland State to end the regular season, Eastern battled back from deficits to knot the score at 14, 21 and 28, then took a 35-28 lead with 8:19 to play in the game on a Kendrick Bourne 10-yard pass from Gage Gubrud. Eastern's defense then stopped PSU on downs with 1:56 to play and was able to run out the clock.
 
Three of the 22 comebacks have been against Montana, including Eagle victories in 2017 (48-41), 2012 (32-26) and 2010 (36-27). In 2017, No. 11 Eastern trailed 24-6 at halftime but scored 42 points in the second half to stun the Grizzlies. In 2012, Eastern scored two touchdowns in the final 2:19 as the No. 7 Eagles rallied for a 32-26 victory over the 21st-ranked Grizzlies. A recovery by Shaquille Hill on an onside kick that was disrupted by Brandon Kaufman led to EWU's game-winning score. In 2010, Eastern scored the go-ahead points with four seconds left on a 31-yard field goal by Mike Jarrett. Eastern then added a fumble return for a touchdown by Renard Williams after a sack and forced fumble by Jerry Ceja on the game's final play to create bedlam after a record crowd of 11,702 attended the game against the 12-time defending league champions. It was the first-ever game on EWU's now famous red Sprinturf surface.
Eastern's 1990 game is one of the greatest comebacks in school history, as EWU picked up its first of what is now six victories at Washington-Grizzly Stadium with a 36-35 victory. Trailing 35-17 with 11:03 left in the game, Tom Owens caught three touchdown passes from Scott Stuart in the final 7:46, including the game-winning score with 18 seconds to play on an 80-yard drive. In relief of EWU starter Mark Tenneson, Stuart was 12-of-24 for 217 yards, and Owens caught 12 passes for 177 yards.
 
 
Eagles Celebrate 50th Anniversary of Games at Roos/Woodward Field With 50th Game on the Red Turf
 
The North Dakota State game on Sept. 9 was the 50th at Roos Field since the red turf surface was installed in 2010. After beating Sacramento State on Sept. 30, Eastern is now 42-9 overall, and have lost just five regular season games at "The Inferno" – 32-5 (86.5 percent), plus are 10-4 in playoff games.
 
This is the seventh season the stadium has been known as "Roos Field," as a new red synthetic Sprinturf surface made its debut in 2010. Eastern finished a perfect 8-0 in its debut season at "The Inferno," including three playoff victories. Eastern is 42-9 overall (82 percent) since the red turf was installed in 2010 – including a 4-0 record versus rival Montana. Eastern has a 154-63 record (71.0 percent) in 217 games at Roos Field (formerly Woodward Field) since 1967, with the Eagles utilizing Joe Albi Stadium in Spokane as the school's main home field from 1983-89.
 
In 2016, Eastern finished 7-1 in the 50th season of football at EWU's current stadium location, which opened in 1967 and is celebrating its 50th anniversary in the 2017 season. A crowd of 10,917 were on hand for EWU's most recent home game versus Sacramento State, the seventh-most in school history and giving EWU 22-straight regular season sellouts (crowd of 8,600 or more) and 34 overall.
 
Eastern's 2016 average attendance was 8,435 (67,477 in eight home games), ranking behind the school record of 9,577 set in five home games in 2015. The Montana game on Oct. 29 had a crowd of 10,931 to rank as the fifth-most in school history, with the top three coming versus the Griz (11,702 in 2010, 11,583 in 2006 and 11,339 in 2014).
 
 
Eastern is 25-13 (66 percent) Since 2010 Versus Ranked Opponents
 
The Eagles have now played 121 games against ranked teams in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision since becoming a member of that classification in 1983 (then known as I-AA). Eastern is 54-67 (.446 in those games, including a 17-42 mark (.288) versus top 10 foes. Since 2010, though, the Eagles are 25-13 overall (.658) and 8-7 (.533 versus top 10 teams. So far this season, Eastern is 0-1 with a 40-13 loss to second-ranked North Dakota State (the Eagles were ranked seventh).
 
Eastern was 6-2 against ranked teams in 2016, having lost to top-ranked North Dakota State by a 50-44 score in overtime and then falling 40-38 to 13th-ranked Youngstown State in the semifinals of the FCS Playoffs. Eastern defeated Northern Iowa, ranked 10th at the time, by a 34-30 score on Sept. 17, beat No. 25 Northern Arizona 50-35 on Sept. 24, defeated No. 16 Montana 35-16 on Oct. 29, knocked off No. 14 Cal Poly 42-21 on Nov. 5, then beat No. 14 Central Arkansas 31-14 on Dec. 3 and was victorious over No. 12 Richmond 38-0 on Dec. 10. Overall, EWU has faced the No. 1 team in FCS nine times, winning twice (35-31 in 2004 over Southern Illinois in the FCS Playoffs and 30-21 in 2002 over Montana at Albi Stadium in Spokane, Wash.
 
 
 

More Player Notes

 
Gubrud Heads List of Players Honored With Preseason Accolades
 
There are at least 5,160 reasons Eastern Washington University's Gage Gubrud is now among the favorites to win the Walter Payton Award presented by STATS to the top offensive player in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision.
 
The junior quarterback burst on the FCS scene a year ago in his first season as a starter by passing for a FCS record 5,160 yards, to go along with 48 touchdown passes and more than 5,700 yards of total offense. On Aug. 2, STATS named him among the players on the Watch List to win the award after finishing third in the voting a year ago. He was later named to the watch list for FCS Performer of the Year as selected by College Football Performance Awards.
 
Gubrud was joined on the STATS Watch List by Chase Edmonds from Fordham, which hosts EWU in The Bronx, N.Y., on Sept. 16. Edmonds was first in the nation in rushing yards per game (163.5), and second in all-purpose yards per game (194.6) and points per game (10.9). He finished fourth in the voting for last year's Payton Award, right behind Gubrud.
 
In addition to the Watch List, Gubrud was selected to the STATS preseason All-America second team and was picked defend his title as the league's Offensive MVP. He was last year's NCAA Football Championship Subdivision Player of the Year by the Touchdown Club of Columbus.
 
Defensive tackle Jay-Tee Tiuli earned third team preseason All-America honors from STATS, while Gubrud, defensive end Albert Havili and safety Mitch Fettig earned preseason All-Big Sky Conference honors. In addition, Gubrud was selected by College Sports Madness to win the Big Sky Conference Offensive Player of the Year award and was joined on CSM's preseason All-BSC squad by eight other Eagles. Defensive nose tackle Jay-Tee Tiuli joined Gubrud on the first team, with wide receiver Nic Sblendorio, safety Mitch Fettig, cornerback Nzuzi Webster and defensive end Albert Havili picked for the second team, and center Spencer Blackburn and linebacker Ketner Kupp chosen to the third team.
 
 
Gubrud Returns After Winning FCS Player of the Year Accolades
 
There were a handful of FCS Player of the Year awards handed out following the 2016 season, and quarterback Gage Gubrud was among those honored. After breaking a NCAA Football Championship Subdivision single season record with 5,160 passing yards, Gubrud was selected as the 2016 FCS Player of the Year by the Touchdown Club of Columbus (Ohio). He and his parents attended the live presentation of awards at the 62nd Touchdown Club of Columbus Awards (www.tdccolumbus.com) on Saturday, Feb. 4, 2017. Gubrud was the sixth recipient of the TDC's FCS Player of the Year Award, with Old Dominion's Taylor Heinicke the winner in 2012. Jacksonville State quarterback Eli Jenkins won in 2015, Marshaun Coprich of Illinois State won in 2014 and Timothy Flanders of Sam Houston State won in the inaugural year in 2011.
 
Gubrud finished third in the voting for the Walter Payton Award presented by STATS to the top offensive player in FCS, finishing behind winner Jeremiah Briscoe from Sam Houston State and Gubrud's Eagle teammate Cooper Kupp. It was the 30th awarding of the honor, which has become known as the Heisman Trophy of the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision level.
 
With voting conducted at the conclusion of the regular season, it was Briscoe, who threw an FCS single-season record 57 touchdowns in 2016, finishing with 599 votes to defeat Kupp (372) and Gubrud (362). Despite being unable to lock down the program's fourth Walter Payton Award winner, Eastern Washington was still able to make history at the STATS FCS Awards ceremony. Kupp and Gubrud became the first pair of teammates to be voted as finalists for the prestigious honor, whose past winners have included Eastern quarterback Erik Meyer (2005), Eagle quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell (2011) and Kupp (2015). Only Villanova has had as many past winners as EWU, and Kupp would have become just the second repeat winner had he won.
 
Kupp was also the 2015 winner of the FCS Offensive Player of the Year by both STATS and the FCS Athletic Director's Association (he repeated as winner of that award in 2016), and he was also presented the 2015 Walter Payton Award as selected by Mickey Charles LLC.
 
 
Gubrud Among Two All-Americans and Six All-BSC Players Back
 
Quarterback Gage Gubrud was honored on six All-America teams in 2016, including as a first team selection by Hero Sports. Gubrud was a second team selection by STATS, the American Football Coaches Association, Associated Press and College Sports Madness. Hero Sports also selected him to its Sophomore All-America squad. Four seniors also received All-America accolades, and a sixth, center Spencer Blackburn, who was picked for the Hero Sports Sophomore All-America squad. 
 
Gubrud and Cooper Kupp were honored on Nov. 22 as the Big Sky Conference co-Offensive MVPs, the first time in league history two players from the same team were selected by the coaches to share the award. Both were unanimous selections as first team selections in the league, with Kupp also becoming just the fourth player in league history to earn first team all-league all four seasons.
 
A total of 13 Eagles overall were honored, including a league-high seven first team selections. Returning for 2017 are first team defensive tackle Jay-Tee Tiuli, second team center Spencer Blackburn, third team cornerback Nzuzi Webster and honorable mention performers Mitch Fettig (safety) and Tristen Taylor (offensive tackle).
 
Blackburn took over as Eastern's starting center in the fourth game of the season for injured senior Jerrod Jones, and earned second team All-Big Sky Conference honors. After Blackburn's insertion into the starting lineup beginning with the Northern Arizona game on Sept. 24, Eastern's five starters on the offensive line for the rest of the year consisted of two redshirt freshmen and a trio of sophomores.
 
Eastern players have now been selected as the Big Sky Conference Offensive MVP in 12 of the last 16 seasons, including six of the last seven.
 
 
Gubrud Breaks Three FCS, Seven Big Sky and 18 EWU Records
 
Sophomore quarterback Gage Gubrud – the Big Sky's co-Offensive MVP along with teammate Cooper Kupp -- put up some remarkable numbers in his first season as EWU's starter, breaking three FCS records, seven Big Sky marks and 18 school records.
 
Gubrud is a 2014 graduate of McMinnville (Ore.) High School and passed for an FCS record 5,160 yards in the 2016 season, breaking the record of 5,076 by Taylor Heinicke of Old Dominion in 2012. His 11 games with at least 300 yards passing and 12 with at least 300 yards of total offense are also FCS records. Gubrud's total of 5,766 yards of total offense were just 33 from the total offense mark of 5,799 set by Steve McNair of Alcorn in 1994. Gubrud broke EWU and Big Sky Conference single season records previous set by Vernon Adams Jr. in 2013 with 4,994 passing yards and 5,559 yards of offense.
 
Gubrud's average of 411.9 yards of offense per game was also a league and school record, and ranks fifth in FCS history. He broke the previous Big Sky record set 25 years prior by Jamie Martin of Weber State with a 394.3 average in 1991. Gubrud's final tally of 368.6 passing yards per game was an EWU school record, breaking the record of 364.5 set by Bo Levi Mitchell in 2011. They were also the second-most in Big Sky history (behind the record of 379.6 set by Dave Dickenson of Montana in 1995) and ranked ninth all-time in FCS.
 
Gubrud also set Big Sky and school records for total offensive plays (704), passing completions (386) and attempts (570), and a school record for rushing yards by a quarterback with 606 (the old record was 605 by Vernon Adams Jr. in 2013). The six single game EWU records he holds are for passing yards (520 vs. Montana State), total offense (551 vs. Washington State), touchdowns responsible for (7 vs. UC Davis), points responsible for (42 vs. UC Davis), fewest interceptions per pass attempt (0 in 64 attempts versus Central Arkansas) and completions (47 vs. Central Arkansas), which was also a league record.
 
 
 
Gubrud 2016 NCAA Statistical Leader in Passing and Total Offense
 
Helping EWU lead FCS in passing offense for the second-straight year, Gage Gubrud passed for 5,160 yards, 48 touchdowns and a .677 completion percentage, and also rushed for a team-leading and EWU quarterback record 606 yards (4.5 per carry) and five more scores.  He finished as the FCS leader in total offense at 411.9 per game, passing yards (5,160) and passing yards per game (368.6), and was second in points responsible per game (22.9), total points responsible for (320) and passing touchdowns (48). He was also third in completion percentage (.677) and third in passing efficiency (166.6).
 
 
Antoine Custer Jr. Makes Big Plays Rushing & Returning for Eagles as a True Freshman in 2016
 
True freshman running back Antoine Custer Jr., made big plays all season as a true freshman for the Eagles, finishing his debut season with 977 all-purpose yards and a pair of Big Sky Conference Player of the Week accolades. He rushed 98 times for a net of 416 yards and five touchdowns, and caught 27 passes for 187 yards and a score, and also averaged 26.7 yards on 14 kickoff returns with a touchdown. Custer started at running back in six games, including Eastern's opener against Washington State, and scored the first touchdown of the season for the Eagles on a pass from Gage Gubrud.
 
He ended the regular season by returning four kickoffs for a 26.8 average in a 35-28 victory against Portland State on Nov. 18. He had a long of 35, which sparked EWU's nine-play, 61-yard drive that knotted the game at 28 in the fourth quarter. En route to a career-high of 185 all-purpose yards, he also rushed for a team-high 69 yards on 13 carries (5.3 per carry), giving him 210 yards in his last two regular season games of the season.
 
He had the first 100-yard rushing game of his career, and first of the season for the Eagles in EWU's 48-17 win over Idaho State on Nov. 12. He finished with 141 yards on 12 carries, including an 83-yard touchdown in the second quarter which equals the ninth-longest in school history. It was the first 100-yard rushing performance by an Eagle in EWU's last 15 games dating back to Jalen Moore's 128-yard performance at Northern Colorado. His 141 were the most for an Eagle in 19 games since Jabari Wilson had 188 versus Montana State earlier in the 2015 season. While EWU's offense ended up with four turnovers and had to punt three times, the Eagles had excellent balance with 281 on the ground and 276 through the air. Eastern finished with a total of 557, including 209 in the third quarter. It was the first time in 23 games the Eagles had more rushing yards than passing yards, dating back to a playoff win over Montana on Dec. 6, 2014, when the Eagles had 212 on the ground and 182 through the air.
 
He missed the Northern Colorado game on Oct. 8 with a concussion. He was also very productive in a 42-21 win at Cal Poly on Nov. 5 when he had 145 all-purpose yards -- 64 yards rushing, 39 on three catches and 42 on two kickoff returns.
 
Custer is proof that lightning can strike twice in the same spot. Just like he did against Northern Iowa on Sept. 17 when he had a 93-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to open the second half against Northern Iowa, Custer provided a third quarter spark for the Eagles in EWU's 63-30 win over UC Davis on Oct. 1. He opened the third quarter with a 55-yard return this time, leading to a short touchdown drive as part of EWU's 35-point onslaught in that period. The resulting TD pulled EWU within 23-21, and the lead quickly changed hands twice before the Eagles scored the final 35 points of the game.
 
His 55-yarder was just his­­­ second return as an Eagle, and then he followed that with a 16-yard return versus the Aggies. Teammate Nsimba Webster had an earlier 65-yard return against UC Davis, but broke his clavicle in the process. Senior Shaq Hill, who was a freshman All-American as a returner, had a 43-yarder against Montana on Oct. 29 and averaged 17.9 on eight returns. Webster had a 25.3 average per return, and EWU's 21.7 average as a team ranked fourth in the Big Sky and 25th nationally. In addition, Eastern's 20.3 average on punt returns – including a 22.9 average for Cooper Kupp – ranked first in the league and third in FCS.
 
Trailing Northern Iowa by 17 at halftime on Sept. 17, Custer's TD in EWU's come-from-behind 34-30 win over Northern Iowa helped earn him his first Big Sky Conference Special Teams Player of the Week honor. His TD return was the first by an Eagle since Hill had a 90-yarder against Portland State on Nov. 21, 2014. Hill, EWU's all-time leader in kickoff returns and yards, actually provided three blocks down the sideline during Custer's TD return.
 
In the last 21 seasons (1996-2016), Eastern has returned 37 total kicks for touchdowns while allowing just 17. Until North Dakota State had one in the FCS Playoffs in 2010, Eastern had not allowed a kickoff return for a touchdown in more than 10 years (599 total returns).
 
 
Running Back Duo Returns After Seeing Significant Action as True Freshmen
 
A pair of running backs from Eastern's talented 2016 recruiting class played as true freshmen in the 2016 opener against Washington State on Sept. 3 when Antoine Custer Jr. and Tamarick Pierce received carries at running back. Custer started and had the first EWU touchdown of the season on a 14-yard reception, and rushed once for no gain. Pierce did not get a carry, but carried four times for 18 yards the next week at North Dakota State. Custer was a California two-time All-State selection out of powerhouse De La Salle High School, and Pierce was an All-State selection from Oakland, Calif., and Saint Mary's High School. Custer rushed for 4,429 yards (103.0 per game and 10.3 per carry) and scored 66 total touchdowns while helping his team compile a 41-2 record in three seasons, with a pair of state titles and a runner-up finish. He finished with 5,965 all-purpose yards in his career, and scored 53 touchdowns rushing, four receiving and nine on returns and recoveries. Pierce rushed for 3,342 yards (8.8 per carry) in his career with 35 rushing touchdowns, caught 44 passes for 424 yards and eight more scores, and scored 47 total TDs in three seasons.
 
Offensive lineman D.J. Dyer made his Eagle debut against Northern Arizona on Sept. 24 when injuries to Eagle offensive linemen forced him to burn his redshirt. The other 15 true freshman on the roster redshirted and played on scout teams, including highly-touted quarterback Eric Barriere from La Habra (Calif.) High School. He accounted for 130 career touchdowns with 9,304 passing yards and 1,718 rushing yards in high school, and led the Highlanders to a collective 30-8 record and a perfect league record in three championship seasons.
 
 

Recent Game Recap

 
#9/8 Eastern Washington 52, Sacramento State 31
 
The No. 9/8 Eagles jumped out to an early 21-0 lead and never trailed as they defeated Sacramento State 52-31 on Sept. 30 in a Big Sky Conference game at sold-out Roos Field in Cheney, Wash. Gage Gubrud passed for 447 yards and had five touchdown passes to five different receivers as the Eagles won their third-straight game after an 0-2 start. Nine different receivers caught passes from Gubrud, who even caught a 43-yard touchdown pass himself. He had the 17th-most passing yards in school history and his eighth game of 400 or more of his 22-game career. His 443 yards of total offense ranked 29th. The Eagles finished with 651 yards of total offense to rank as the seventh-most in school history, coming on the heels of performances of 617 versus Montana (9/23/17) and 650 against Fordham (9/16/17). It's the most yards in back-to-back-to back games in school history. The Eagles jumped out to a 21-0 lead after scoring touchdowns on their first three possessions with drives of 73, 65 and 62 yards. Eastern never trailed in the game as they scored more points in the first quarter than they had in their first four games combined (17). Junior quarterback Gage Gubrud completed 10-of-13 passes for 169 yards on the three drives with TD passes to redshirt freshman tight end Talolo Limu-Jones and sophomore running back Antoine Custer Jr. Gubrud had a 43-yard touchdown reception from junior running back Sam McPherson to account for the other score, as EWU had a 225-52 advantage in total offense to that point. The Hornets scored 17 unanswered points in the first half to pull within 21-17, but the Eagles responded with touchdown drives to end the first half and begin the second half. It took the Eagles just one minute to go 76 yards in seven plays, capped by a 4-yard touchdown reception by junior Zach Eagle – the first of his career – from Gubrud. The Eagle started the second half with an 11-play, 75-yard drive to take a 35-17 lead, with Custer scoring on a 3-yard run. Custern had 196 all-purpose yards, rushing for 81 yards on 14 carries and establishing new career highs with five catches for 115 yards. He scored touchdowns both rushing and receiving. Junior wide receiver Nsimba Webster led the Eagles with eight catches for 70 yards and a TD, and senior wide receiver Nic Sblendorio added seven catches for 69 yards. Sophomore wide receiver/returner Dre' Sonte Dorton had a 49-yard kickoff return versus the Hornets, and had two total returns for 57 yards. Defensive end Keenan Williams led the Eagles with a career-high 10 tackles, including nine in the first half alone, to eclipse his previous high of seven. Senior defensive end Albert Havili had nine tackles, including a pair for losses, and broke up a pass.  Junior safety Mitch Fettig chipped in eight tackles.
 
 
 

Series History

* The Eagles have won all five of the all-time meetings against the Aggies, including the notorious "Fog Bowl" in the first meeting in 2005. That 24-7 game at fog-shrouded Roos Field (then Woodward Field) featured near-zero visibility from the pressbox. It also helped clinch the Big Sky Conference co-championship with Montana and Montana State, and clinch EWU the automatic berth in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision Playoffs (then known as I-AA). The Bobcats upset Montana 16-6 in Bozeman that same day, opening the door for the Eagles to garner its second-straight league title and playoff berth. The Eagles found out the outcome of the MSU-UM game in the second quarter, then rested many of its starters in the second half. In the other meetings, Eastern won in Cheney in 2007 by a 41-31 score, and then prevailed 31-28 in a Big Sky Conference game in 2012. In 2014, Eastern won at UC Davis 37-14, and romped 63-30 in the most recent meeting in 2016 in Cheney.
 
 
Looking Back
In 2016, Eastern erupted for 35 points in the third quarter and rolled past UC Davis 63-30 on Oct. 1, 2016, at Roos Field in Cheney, Wash. The Eagles scored all of their points in the first 49:44 of the game en route to EWU's highest-scoring game since 2001 when the Eagles had 63 versus Cal State Northridge and 66 two games earlier versus Simon Fraser. The 63 points equaled EWU's best against a member of FCS and in a Big Sky game. Quarterback Gage Gubrud had 254 passing yards in the third quarter alone, and finished with 486 to come five from the school record (at the time) of 491. Eastern had 627 yards of total offense – the ninth-most in school history (at the time) – including a 131-0 advantage after two possessions each for the Eagles and Aggies. Already the FCS leader in career touchdown receptions, Cooper Kupp broke the FCS record for career receiving yards as he surpassed the previous mark of 5,250 set by Elon's Terrell Hudgins from 2006-09. Kupp finished with 12 catches for 274 yards and TD receptions of 71 and 32 yards, coming one yard from his own school record of 275. Shaq Hill and Kendrick Bourne each had two touchdown grabs and 82 receiving yards, with Hill catching seven and Bourne finishing with eight. D'londo Tucker made his first start of the season and had a pair of tackles, a pass broken up and an interception he returned 27 yards for a touchdown. His return gave EWU a 56-30 lead eight seconds into the fourth quarter. Miquiyah Zamora led Eastern with 10 tackles and Jay-Tee Tiuli had four, including a pair of sacks and a quarterback hurry.
 
* In 2014, it wasn't easy – and sometimes excruciating – but Eastern got by UC Davis 37-14 in its first-ever game in Davis., Calif., on Sept. 27 at Aggie Stadium. The victory came in EWU's Big Sky Conference opener as the defending league champions. The Eagles scored the first three times they had the ball in the third quarter, after having only three possessions total in the first half. As a result, the Eagles turned a 9-7 halftime lead into a 30-7 advantage late in the third quarter. Quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. led the way with 298 passing yards and a pair of touchdowns. Eastern out-gained UC Davis in total offense 475-260. In the pivotal third quarter, EWU had a 203-11 advantage until a 70-yard pass play by the Aggies on the final play of the period. Mario Brown, starting in place of injured starter Quincy Forte (shoulder), rushed for 78 yards on 13 carries and scored a touchdown. His 45-yard run led to his own 6-yard TD rush to give the Eagles a 30-7 lead. He also returned three kickoffs for 64 yards and a caught a pass for five, giving him a game-high 147 all-purpose yards. Wide receiver Nic Sblendorio made the first start of his career and had one catch, and defensive end Samson Ebukam had a pair of sacks and three total tackles for the Eagles. His first sack led to a punt that helped lead to an EWU field goal that gave the Eagles the lead for good. His second sack slowed a drive with UC Davis at its own 44-yard line with a minute left in the first half.
 
* In 2012, the Eagles were out-scored 22-0 in the second quarter, regained the lead in the fourth quarter then blocked a field goal in the final minute to preserve a 31-28 victory. The Aggies were poised to pull off the upset with a long drive on their final possession, but Eastern's David Gaylord blocked a 52-yard field goal attempt by Brady Stuart with 46 seconds left to preserve the Eagle win and keep Eastern's Big Sky Conference championship hopes alive. Eastern led early 14-3 and had a 141-31 advantage in total offense. But over the next 18 1/2 minutes, UC Davis converted four of five third downs and rolled up 247 yards of offense to take a 25-14 lead at halftime. In that same time span, Eastern had only 37 yards of offense and only one first down, and had to punt on its final three possessions. Eastern quarterbacks Vernon Adams Jr. and Kyle Padron combined to complete 19-of-31 passes for 242 yards and a touchdown, but the Eagles were out-gained in total offense 435-361. Adams scored the go-ahead points for Eastern with a 9-yard run with 8:13 left in the game. Redshirt freshman safety Jordan Tonani had seven tackles, an interception and a pass broken up.
 
* In 2007, Eastern had 478 yards of offense and two interceptions on defense that led to second-half touchdowns to defeat UC Davis 41-31 on Sept. 15. The two teams combined for nearly 1,000 yards of offense as UC Davis finished with 517. However, a third-quarter interception by sophomore Kevin Hatch and a fourth-quarter interception by freshman redshirt Lonnie Hosley turned out to be the biggest plays of the game for the Eagles. Eastern trailed early 14-6, but roared back behind three rushing touchdowns by junior Dale Morris. Morris had 85 yards rushing on 17 carries, and Alexis Alexander added 122 yards and a touchdown, also on 17 carries. Eastern also had a good day through the air as sophomore quarterback Matt Nichols completed 25-of-42 passes for 252 yards and two touchdowns. Fellow sophomores Aaron Boyce (9-107), Brynsen Brown (7-82) and Tony Davis (5-35) combined for 21 receptions for 224 yards.
 
* In the 2005 meeting, Eastern scored four-straight times in the first half and went on to defeat UC-Davis 24-7. Eastern quarterback Erik Meyer, who would go on to win the Payton Award, left the game for good late in the second quarter after completing 11-of-19 passes for 134 yards and two touchdowns. Plus, he had a 67-yard run on his only carry of the game that set-up an Eagle score. All-America wide receiver Eric Kimble also left the game before halftime after finishing with five catches for 61 yards and a touchdown. Eastern punted on its first possession, then scored touchdowns on drives of 45, 80 and 78 yards. UC Davis scored its only touchdown on a 50-yard interception return by Nolan De Graff in the third quarter. Eastern finished with 329 yards of total offense, while UC Davis finished with 308.

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