Dakota Prukop could not be stopped.
At least, not until 59 minutes and 52 seconds had elapsed in the game. That’s when the Eastern Washington Eagle defense finally…finally sealed the non-conference win at Roos Field. Freshman cornerback, Nzuzi Webster, picked off the Prukop pass deep in Bobcat territory.
“When it was 28-7, I told they guys, I kept saying it – the biggest thing we’ve got to make sure is that there’s no relax,” said Coach Beau Baldwin. “This is going to be a dogfight all the way til the end. It can be a play here or there, you never know. And, sure enough, that’s what it came down to.
The Eagles needed nearly every tick of the clock to put this game away, 55-50. Despite having an early 21-point lead, the Eastern defense did not have an answer for Prukop and the Bobcat offense. Instead, it was the EWU offense that provided answer after answer.
The Eagles only ran 57 offensive plays compared to the Bobcats 104, but they made the most of them when they had to. And quickly, too. Each of the eight EWU touchdown drives took under three minutes. They finished with a total time of possession of 21:58.
The Bobcat offense had been methodically wearing down the Eagle defense all game long. Keeping the Eagle defense off-balance just enough with sustained drive after sustained drive to the tune of 38+ minutes in time of possession.
Prukop, for his part, showed why the FCS is buzzing about, and scouts were watching, the junior quarterback. He went 29-46 for 353 yards and 4 touchdowns. He also added 196 yards on 28 carries with 1 TD. Numbers that impressed everyone, including the Eagle defense.
“Big shout-out to Prukop,” said junior linebacker, Miquiyah Zamora. “That dude – that dude is good.” Added Coach Baldwin, “(Prukop) He’s going to will himself back into the game. That’s what he was doing at the end of the game and it was a battle down to the end.”
While Prukop will deservedly get the headlines, EWU’s Jordan West was no slouch himself. Aided by a run game that broke out for 274 yards, West was masterfully efficient. He went 21-24 for 410 yards and six touchdowns.
“I felt like all of our offense was in rhythm,” said West after the game.
In rhythm in the passing game as well as the run game. Junior running back, Jabari Wilson, led the Eagles with 17 carries for 188 yards including an opening-drive 31-yard touchdown run and a 62-yard scamper to set up a second EWU touchdown.
Meanwhile, Kupp had 12 catches for 201 yards for an unheard of 16.75 yard average. His three touchdowns gives Kupp 45 touchdowns in his career, one short of the Big Sky and school career record of 46 set by EWU’s Eric Kimble.
Asked about Kupp, Jordan West had this to say, “It just seems like any time you throw him the ball, he’s going to come down with it. He’s just such a competitor. He just hates to go down. Even being injured out there today, he was still making incredible plays.”
Incredible plays made by incredible players in an incredible game. A big first win for the Eastern Washington Eagles (1-2 overall) who head to Sacramento State (1-2) to open Big Sky conference play next week. The Bobcats (1-1 overall) will look to rebound in only their third game of the season with a homecoming game versus Cal Poly (1-1).
TOTAL OFFENSE: MSU = 718, EWU = 667
TURNOVERS: MSU = 3, EWU = 1
FIRST DOWNS: MSU = 40, EWU = 18
TIME OF POSSESSION: MSU = 38:02, EWU = 21:58
PENALTIES: MSU = 6/26, EWU = 2/15
Edited 9/20/15 to correct the number of touchdowns for Cooper Kupp. Previously listed as 46 in error.