Posted on December 1, 2012 at 8:30 PM
Sunday, Dec 2 at 12:37 AM
Aside from a third-quarter burp, the Eastern Washington University passing offense was at its usual best.
Junior Kyle Padron passed for 327 yards and junior Brandon Kaufman caught 10 passes for 174 yards Saturday (Dec. 1) to defeat Wagner 29-19 in a second-round game in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision Playoffs at Roos Field in Cheney, Wash.
Eastern advances to the quarterfinals, and will play Illinois State on a date and time to be announced. The Redbirds defeated Appalachian State 38-37 in overtime earlier Saturday in another second-round game. Eastern lost 31-14 in 1987 at Albi Stadium in Spokane, Wash., in the only other meeting between EWU and ISU.
Eastern overcame two third-quarter turnovers that cost EWU its hard-earned 14-6 halftime lead. Padron led Eastern on TD drives of 80 and 75 yards in the first half, then scoring marches of 75 and 73 in the second half as EWU snapped the nine-game winning streak of the Seahawks.
With a penchant for pulling out victories, the Eagles will enter the quarterfinals with a 10-2 record. Eastern captured a share of the Big Sky Conference title and the league’s automatic playoff berth with a 7-1 league record. Of Eastern’s seven Big Sky wins this season, six came by a combined margin of 28 points – one by seven points, two six-point wins and a trio by just three points. On the other side of the coin, the Eagles are only seven points from an unbeaten season, having last-possession chances to pull out wins in both of their losses.
Wagner, coming off a 31-20 win over Colgate in the first round of the playoffs, finished its season 9-4.
Padron, making just his third start of the season and first since EWU’s second game of the season, completed 26-of-36 passes. Besides Kaufman’s 10 grabs, senior Greg Herd had five catches for 51 yards and senior Nicholas Edwards had five grabs for 48 yards.
Running back Demitrius Bronson added 76 yards rushing and a pair of short touchdown runs. Senior linebacker Zach Johnson led the defense with 11 tackles and a pass broken up, and junior linebacker Ronnie Hamlin added 10 tackles and broke-up a pair of passes.
Eastern lost the turnover battle 3-0, but out-gained Wagner 411-296 in total offense.
After a scoreless first quarter, Eastern responded after a Wagner field goal by driving 80 yards in nine plays to take the lead at 7-6. Padron passed 21 yards for a touchdown to sophomore tight end Ryan Seto, his first of the season and second of his career.
Late in the quarter, Eastern scored again on an 11-play, 75-yard drive, with Bronson scoring on a 1-yard run. But the 14-6 halftime lead didn’t hold up for long.
A rare interception by Padron led to a short 18-yard TD drive and pulled the Seahawks to within 14-13. Padron hadn’t thrown an interception in 121 attempts dating back to Sept. 22 against Weber State.
After an Eastern punt, Wagner kicked a field goal to take a 16-14 lead. Then, after an EWU fumble on the ensuing kickoff, another Seahawk field goal gave them a 19-14 lead with 2:59 left.
But Padron and Kaufman followed with a 75-yard TD march in seven plays, capped by a 3-yard run by Quincy Forte. The key play was a sensational 47-yard grab by Kaufman, who caught also caught a pass on the two-point conversion to give EWU the lead back at 22-19 entering the final quarter.
Wagner punted on its next drive, then EWU used a time-consuming 15-play, 73-yard drive to make it a two-possession game. The drive consumed 7:27 as Bronson ended the drive with a 2-yard TD run.
- With Eastern’s win against Wagner, the Eagles improve to 10-2 on the season, marking just the third time in school history EWU has eclipsed the 10-win mark. Eastern finished the 2010 national championship season at 13-2, and the 1997 season at 12-2.
- In November and beyond, Eastern is now 12-0 since 2010, and 21-3 since 2007.
- Eastern’s victory over Wagner was the 10th FCS Playoff win for EWU since its first postseason appearance as a Division I school in 1985.
- Junior wide receiver Brandon Kaufman moved into second place (surpassing Aaron Boyce, Jeff Ogden and Eric Kimble) on Eastern’s single-season reception yards list. With 1,444 in 2012, he is just 7 yards from the record of 1,453, currently held by Eric Kimble in the 2004 season.
- Junior wide receiver Brandon Kaufman has 174 receiving yards ageist Wagner, which is the second-most single-game receiving yards of his career, while his 10 catches ties a career-high. He has reached the 100-yard mark for the ninth time this season and 17th time in his career.
- With 2 sacks in the game, senior Jerry Ceja improved his career total to 22 1/2, which moves the defensive end into sixth place (tied with Renard Williams) on Eastern’s all-time career sacks list.
- Sophomore tight end Ryan Seto caught his first touchdown pass of the season, and the second of his career, to give Eastern its first score of the game at 8:42 in the second quarter.
- With four tackles against the Seahawks, senior Tyler Washburn moved into 12th on EWU’s career tackles list with 245 in his tenure.
- With a team-leading 11 tackles, Zach Johnson recorded his 14th game of double-digit tackles in his career.
- Senior wide receiver Greg Herd caught his 157th pass to move into ninth on Eastern’s all-time career receptions list.
- Senior wide receiver Nicholas Edwards is now tied with Tony Davis for third in the EWU record book for career catches with 213.
- Until Saturday, Eastern had never played Wagner – a member of FCS since 1992 -- or a team from the Northeast Conference. The Seahawks are led by NEC Coach of the Year Walt Hameline, a veteran of 32 seasons as head coach at Wagner. He led Wagner to the 1987 NCAA Division III Championship and has won a total 213 games in his career (213-127-2).
- Junior quarterback Kyle Padron was picked off in the third quarter, snapping a streak of 121 passes without an interception. Padron had not thrown an interception since Sept. 22 at Weber State.