The Easterner

Top five showdown for first place in Big Sky

No. 5 EWU hosts No. 4 UC Davis on senior day

Senior+linebacker+Ketner+Kupp+celebrates+a+tackle+against+Idaho+on+Oct.+27.+Kupp+leads+the+Eagles+with+56+tackles+this+season.
Senior linebacker Ketner Kupp celebrates a tackle against Idaho on Oct. 27. Kupp leads the Eagles with 56 tackles this season.

Senior linebacker Ketner Kupp celebrates a tackle against Idaho on Oct. 27. Kupp leads the Eagles with 56 tackles this season.

Mckenzie Ford

Mckenzie Ford

Senior linebacker Ketner Kupp celebrates a tackle against Idaho on Oct. 27. Kupp leads the Eagles with 56 tackles this season.

By Taylor Newquist, Sports Editor

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A group of 27 seniors will stand and be honored on the Inferno this Saturday, in the midst of a clash between Big Sky title hopefuls and FCS championship contenders.

Head coach Aaron Best said that it will be a special moment when this group of seniors take the field on Saturday.

“It can be kind of a tear-jerker at times,” Best said. “Because you know what it took. You know how many meetings you had to go to, you know how many tears you had to shed and you know how much sweat you had to burn through. All those things come to fruition right before the game.”

The No. 5 Eagles (5-1, 7-2) host the No. 4 Aggies (6-0, 8-1) in the last EWU regular season home game of the season. UC Davis is first in the Big Sky, with EWU tied with Weber State behind them in second.

“When you get to November you get to play meaningful games,” Best said. “We’re used to that in Cheney. When you get to the end of the season you run a little bit faster knowing you’ve got something to play for.”

Mckenzie Ford
The Eagles’ kickoff team gets ready to cover the play against Idaho on Oct. 27. EWU beat the Vandals 34-14 infront of the year’s largest home attendance of 10,023.

Rolling offense

EWU boasts the No. 1 total offense in the FCS, averaging 530.7 yards per game, up 54 yards from last year’s average. UC Davis is No. 8 in the FCS for total offense, averaging 485 yards per game, but are first in the BSC in scoring with 43.1 points per game—more than the Eagles’ 40.4.

Senior receiver Terence Grady noted the UC Davis secondary as the strong point of its defense.

“They’re physical,” Grady said. They’ve got some guys that can move, but they’re beatable. I hope we take some more shots over the top with EB’s arm.”

The Aggies secondary is allowing 249 passing yards per game. They have also forced 14 interceptions, which is second in the BSC behind Northern Arizona’s 15.

Defense’s tough test

UC Davis’ quarterback Jake Maier is sixth in the FCS in passing yards with 2,714 and second in touchdowns with 27.

Maier will be a test for the Eagles’ defense that has drastically improved this season, allowing 12.2 less points per game than last season, and 90.9 less yards per game. EWU has not allowed over 20 points since its Sept. 15 loss to WSU, holding each of its BSC foes to 17 points or less.

“Guys know you don’t want to leave anything on the table,” senior linebacker Ketner Kupp said about the importance of the game on Saturday.

The Eagles will focus on generating turnovers, against an Aggie team that ranks fifth in the FCS in turnover differential. EWU is 46-0 since 2010 when leading the turnover margin. Although this season EWU has a margin of minus two, last week against Northern Colorado the Eagles grabbed three interceptions on way to a 48-13 win.

What’s next

If EWU wins, and Weber beats Southern Utah, there will be a three-way tie for first place in the Big Sky. If the Eagles lose, and Idaho State beats Cal Poly, EWU will be tied for third with the Bengals, heading into the last week of the season.

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About the Writer
Taylor Newquist, Sports Editor

Taylor Newquist is The Easterner’s Sports Editor. Newquist, a senior studying journalism, was born in Yakima, and graduated Selah High School in 2015....

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Top five showdown for first place in Big Sky