Three in a row.
The Eastern Washington Eagles made it three in a row over the Montana Grizzlies with a 36-26 win on Saturday in a Big Sky Conference tilt in Cheney, WA. The victory came in front a crowd of 11,339 – the largest of 2014 and third largest in Roos Field history (11,702 was the largest on 9/18/10 vs Montana).
The game featured the return of Vernon Adams Jr as the Eagles starting quarterback. Adams had been sidelined for the past four games recovering from surgery for a broken foot. Back-up quarterback Jordan West went 3–1 in his absence to keep the Eagles’ Big Sky and playoff hopes alive.
It wasn’t an easy day by any means for Adams. He wasn’t the normal elusive, shifty quarterback Eagles fans are used to seeing. Some of that was rust from the layoff. And some of that was the tough Montana Grizzly defense he was facing. Coming into the game, Montana was ranked #1 in the Big Sky Conference in scoring and total defense, #2 in passing defense and #5 in rushing defense. The Grizzlies brought the pressure against Adams, forcing him to scramble and test that foot early. They would get to him for five sacks and one forced fumble, which the Montana offense turned into an early touchdown. Adams finished the day going 24-36 for 399 yards and 4 touchdowns.
The return of Adams was just one of many story lines to this Senior Day rivalry game. Senior linebacker, Ronnie Hamlin, the leader of this Eagles defense, set a new school record for career tackles with 440 (17th in FCS history). The record of 432 was previously held by EWU great, J.C. Sherritt. Hamlin also had a key opening drive interception of Montana quarterback, Jordan Johnson, pass. Attempting to describe Ronnie Hamlin in one word, Coach Beau Baldwin said, “Tenacious. That’s how he goes about playing the game. It’s tough to describe him in just one word. He is just so many things and all the while he does it with a humbleness. That’s what I love about him. He’s such a leader by example.” Added Adams, “It’s so great to see him get the record. Hope the NFL scouts see that and give him a shot.” Red-shirt sophomore Cooper Kupp, “He’s the heart and soul of this defense.” Fellow linebacker Miquiyah Zamora on Hamlin, “He’s a great leader. He cares about the team more than he cares about himself. He’s become my brother. I’m just so happy for him right now. He deserves it.”
- TOTAL YARDS: EWU 461 UM 527
- FIRST DOWNS: EWU 20 UM 24
- NET YARDS RUSHING: EWU 62 UM 80
- NET YARDS PASSING: EWU 399 UM 447
- PENALTIES: EWU 4-31 UM 7-40
- TURNOVERS: EWU 0 UM 2
- TIME OF POSSESSION: EWU 28:43 UM 31:17
- THIRD DOWN CONVERSIONS: EWU 6 of 14 UM 8 of 17
- RED ZONE: EWU 1-1 (field goal) UM 2-3 (field goals)