When you look up “momentum” in the dictionary, you might see this picture alongside it:
On a day that saw upset after upset at the FBS level, Eastern Washington made sure they wouldn’t be part of that at the FCS level today. It was a “roller coaster” of a battle, but the #2 Eagles pulled out a 56-53 win over the Idaho State Bengals.
Idaho State would jump on the board first with an 8-play, 74 yard drive on their opening possession after an EWU turnover on downs. But, the Eagles would strike right back with a 7-play, 73 yard drive to tie up the game early in the 1st quarter. It was a sign of things to come.
For a quarter…
- 1st quarter: 487 yards of total offense (361 yards passing), 35 points. (EWU 21, ISU 14)
Whether it was an adjustment on defense or both teams acclimating to the pace of the game, things slowed down dramatically in the second quarter.
- 2nd quarter: 162 yards of total offense, 31 points. (EWU 35, ISU 31)
That little thing called momentum though was in Idaho State’s favor to close out the half. After a blocked punt by EWU’s Samson Ebukam and recovery for a touchdown by Dylan Zylstra, the Benglas were down 35-17. But, led by quarterback Justin Arias and receiver Madison Mangum, the Bengals found themselves down by only 4 at halftime. They would start the second half with the ball…and momentum.
Or, so it seemed.
Whatever was said in the locker room at half, the Eastern Washington defense listened. The Eagle defense forced a punt on Idaho State’s first possession of the second half. A 3-play, 83-yard drive, highlighted by a 73-yard run by running back Mario Brown, put the Eagles up, 42-31. On the Bengals next possession, junior defensive back Jordan Tonani intercepted a Justin Arias pass giving EWU the ball back at the Idaho State 46. Two plays later the Eagles were up by 18 for the second time, 49-31.
On that start to the second half, Coach Baldwin said, “That was big. We were able to extend it to a three score lead. It gave us a little cushion, but obviously we made mistakes on both sides of the ball. They made some plays too. But, how we started that third quarter was huge for us.” Adams would add, “That (defensive stop) was huge for us. They stepped up big time for us.”
Momentum swung back to the Bengals side again. Arias would go 2-3 for 51 yards on the Bengals next possession to cut the lead to 11, 49-38. The Bengal defense would force an Eagle punt and their offense went back to the basics with a balanced attack – 10 plays, 73 yards capped by a 4 yard touchdown run by junior running back, Xavier Finney.
Then came Adams. And momentum. Hobbled by a sore ankle throughout the second half, Adams engineered a 12-play 70-yard drive to put the Eagles up for good, 56-45. The Bengals would make it interesting adding a final touchdown and 2-point conversion to cut the lead to 56-53. But, Eastern converted a critical third-down play on their final possession to seal the win.
- 10,268 yards in his career puts him third in EWU history behind Matt Nichols and Erik Meyer.
- 99 career touchdown passes putting him 14th in FCS history
- In 20 career games, Kupp has 31 touchdowns. Kupp has caught a touchdown pass in 19 of those 20 games.
- Hitting 400 — Hamlin broke the 400 barrier for tackles in team history with his 8 tackles tonight (3 solo, 5 assisted) – now at 405. 27 behind the 432 recorded by J.C. Sherritt.
- After a month away from home, Eagles fans were thirsty for a home game. The third-largest crowd in history was recorded today – highest ever for a non-Montana game.