Four teams still in logjam at the top of the Big Sky Conference
Highlighted by a one-handed touchdown grab from senior wide receiver Greg Herd, the Eagles football team took down Cal Poly Nov. 3 by a score of 34-17.
EWU quarterback Vernon Adams played the entire game and threw for three touchdowns while accounting for 362 yards of offense.
EWU recovered from their first conference loss of the season, taking a 14-point halftime lead and never trailing in the lopsided victory. The Eagles improved their record to 7-2 overall while the Cal Poly Mustangs fell to 7-2, their second consecutive loss after starting the season 7-0.
Because the matchup between these teams was scheduled before Cal Poly became a member of the Big Sky Conference, it does not count as a conference game. With a 5-1 conference record, the Eagles are tied with Cal Poly and Montana State for second place in the conference behind Northern Arizona, owners of an unblemished 6-0 Big Sky record.
Eagles coach Beau Baldwin lauded the team’s efforts both in the game and in practice after the deflating loss to Southern Utah on Oct. 27.
“I was really impressed with our resiliency,” Baldwin said. “And it started Sunday and Monday of last week.”
Baldwin added, “We didn’t win this game today. We won this game with how we prepared for it.”
After spending weeks rotating between Adams and Kyle Padron at quarterback, Baldwin decided to stick with Adams for the entirety of the contest. For Baldwin, the decision had to do with what Cal Poly does defensively with their scheme and how both players looked during the week of preparation. “It can be hard on them if you get a QB that can step up and run once in awhile,” Baldwin said.
Adams and the offense set a season-high mark with 542 yards of total offense, including 254 on the ground. Quincy Forte led all rushers with 83 yards on 15 carries. Demitrius Bronson added 82 yards on 17 carries and Adams added 6 yards on 10 carries. EWU’s scoring drives went for 81, 66, 74, 69, 41 and 83 yards. Brandon Kaufman caught two touchdown passes, giving him a total of 10 touchdown receptions on the season.
The play of the game went to Herd, catching a deep pass down the left sideline with one hand and holding on as he fell into the end zone for a 28 yard touchdown reception that made the score 13-3 late in the first quarter. Herd was quick to heap praise onto his quarterback for throwing a catchable ball against tight coverage.
“Vernon, first off, threw a great ball,” Herd said. “He put a little more air on it to give me some time to work under it.”
Herd also talked about Adams’ potential and the improvement he has seen in Adams over the course of the season.
“The sky’s the limit for that guy,” Herd said. “As far as timing on throws, he’s getting the ball out quicker, getting it to you so the DBs [defensive backs] aren’t breaking on the ball as much. He’s making reads he hasn’t made. One of the biggest things he’s doing, he’s seeing the whole field. He’s spreading it around from the left sideline to the right sideline, underneath and over top as well.”
A sellout crowd of 8,644 packed into Roos Field to watch the Eagles’ victory. Baldwin said the energy from the crowd played into his team’s strong performance.
“Thanks for the fans, another sellout,” Baldwin said. “I mean, to come out here on a cold, rainy day, we feed off that. It goes a long way. It goes further than people think, in terms of just the feel, the energy on the sidelines. I appreciate all the support from the student section to all the support in general. It’s neat. Let’s do it again next week.”
Senior linebacker Zach Johnson returned to the field after a five-game absence due to injury and finished with seven takes and a pass defended. Coach Baldwin was happy to see him back on the field.
“Zach Johnson’s an All-American caliber player and I know he’s been hampered by some injuries but he makes our team better, he makes our locker room better, he makes everything better,” Baldwin said. “He’s just a stud.”
Johnson relished the opportunity to be back out on the field. “It feels great just to be out here with our teammates and get a ‘W,’” Johnson said.
EWU moved up one spot to No. 6 in the Football Championship Subdivision coaches poll. Cal Poly, previously ranked No. 16, slipped to No. 19.
The Eagles will stay in town and take on the UC Davis Aggies on Nov 10. Sporting an overall record of just 3-6 and a 2-4 conference record, the Aggies rank 11th of 13 teams in the conference and have allowed 34.0 points per game to conference opponents.
Adams will look to notch his seventh win as a starting quarterback versus the Aggies. The freshman quarterback said he is trying to take all this success and newfound fame in stride.
“I didn’t think it was all going to come like this,” Adams said. “It came so fast. I’m just so blessed. I just love it, I love it all. [I’m] just having fun out there.”