A sign of a good team is how they respond after a setback. After a late 4th-quarter loss to NAU last week, the Eastern Washington Eagles destroyed North Dakota with a 54-3 win on a rainy homecoming weekend. After last week’s heartbreaking loss, the win was a fresh start for Eastern Washington. Freshman defensive back Moe Roberts said there was a certain focus in this week’s game, “To come out and be 1-0 again. We take that loss and put it behind us. We can’t dwell on it.”
No dwelling here. The Eagles were focused and opportunistic on both sides of the ball. Roberts and the EWU defense held North Dakota to 163 yards of total offense forcing three turnovers by a young UND offense. North Dakota was without its starting quarterback (Joe Mollberg) and their leading receiver (RJ McGill). True freshman Keaton Studsrud got the start for North Dakota.
Studsrud and UND could not get anything going on offense against a stout Eagle defense. EWU forced the UND offense to go 1 for 12 on third down while only allowing 126 yards rushing. Three interceptions for Studsrud including a 26-yard pick-six by Roberts. Redshirt sophomore linebacker Miquiyah Zamora and redshirt junior defensive back Todd Raynes had the other interceptions for the Eagles. Zamora, “Defense played great today. The defensive line played 60 minutes of high-motor football which made it easier for everybody else on the field in defense.”
With the EWU defense shutting UND down on offense, their offense was patient on their way to a 459-yard day. Redshirt sophomore Jordan West threw for 314 yards on 24-37 passing and two touchdowns. Combined with a rushing attack that fought their way to 120 hard-earned yards, the Eagles played with confidence. It was the first test of adversity for young sophomore quarterback, Jordan West, as a starter. West, on the game, “It went great. This whole team was having fun. You could walk up and down the sidelines and nothing but smiles on everybody’s face.”.
Coach Beau Baldwin was pleased with the team’s overall response today. “When you get into a game like this and you’re able to click in a lot of different areas that’s always exciting for a team,” Baldwin said. “We hit four or five fourth downs to continue drives. That’s part of who we are. We were able to get some situations, with as good of a defense as they are, we thought there might be situations where we had the advantage.”
It was the fourth straight start for West as the starting quarterback. And, it was the most confident he has seemed in the pocket this season. “He’s now 3-1 as a starter. He went through some stuff that is normal. I saw Bo Levi go through it. I saw Vernon Adams at Montana State as a freshman go through it. I saw Matt Nichols set an interception record as a freshman. All All-American quarterbacks,” Baldwin said. What I learned about Jordan…he was able to respond all week long with how he was going to attack this week.”
1-0 is the mindset the Eagles leave with after this game. In truth, they’re 5-1 in the Big Sky Conference (8-2 overall) heading into next week’s showdown with Montana. The Grizzlies were a 31-13 winner over Sacramento State in another Big Sky match-up. The biggest question will be whether or not junior quarterback Vernon Adams will play. Regardless of who starts, these past few weeks have helped this Eagle team to learn what it takes to win down the stretch.
1-0. 8-2. Whatever way they look at it, there’s only two games left in the regular season and the Eagles need to be ready for anything.
NEXT GAME: Versus Montana, 12:10pm at Roos Field.
- The 54-3 victory is was the fourth largest winning margin for Eastern Washington in school history. The top game is a September 6, 1997 game vs Rocky Mountain which the Eagles won, 63-7. It was their biggest margin of victory in the Big Sky Conference.
- Senior linebacker Ronnie Hamlin has 431 career tackles. Hamlin is one shy of tying the Eastern Washington record currently held by J.C. Sherritt with 432. Sherritt ranks 3rd in the Big Sky behind Kane Ioane of Montana State (471) and A.J. Storms of Idaho State (434).
- Red Zone Studs: The Eagles are now 40 of 42 in the red zone this season after going 4 of 4 tonight. The only two “misses” were red zone possessions at the end of the game versus UC Davis and Idaho State.
Current Big Sky Standings: