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EWU looks to get a playoff win in Missoula

The Eagles look to beat Montana for a second time this season to advance in the FCS playoffs.

CHENEY, Wash. — The Eastern Washington Eagles will hit the road to face the six seeded Montana Grizzlies, a fellow Big Sky opponent, who the Eagles have already beaten this season 34-28 on October 2nd. 

"It definitely feels good to have that one under our belt, but, at the same time this is the playoffs," said senior defensive back Calin Criner. "This is a whole new animal. It's not at our venue this time it's at their place. And so, this one will kind of be the true test of, you know, kind of who's progressed throughout the season and who's going to show up on Friday."

"I like the idea of being able to play a team, whoever it may be, the second time at a different venue, because now it is the same team, but a different place," said head coach Aaron Best. "Sometimes you kind of trick yourself a little bit, Same place, same team, same outcome... not always gonna be the case."

The Eagles ranked second in the FCS in total offense averaging over 550 yards a game.

The Grizzlies have one of the best defenses in the country averaging 13 points given up per game. Good for second best in the FCS.

Without a doubt, this will be a battle of the two high powered units. But, it's the other side of the ball that may decide who moves on in the playoffs. 

"Don't forget, there's another offense and another defense and more importantly, a special teams unit on each side of the field too. So to me, let's not overlook those things because everybody's going to put the spotlight on whatever it is," said Best. "The keynote speaker may not give the best message it might be the next speaker that gets the best message. So, that's where the brightest lights are probably wanting to be, those are the biggest stories, but the biggest outcome could be played out in those other arenas."

Missoula is widely regarded as one of the toughest places to play in the country. Eastern Washington will have to be ready for a hostile environment. 

"You know it's gonna be loud and we're gonna have to communicate really well with each other and stuff like that. So, it was just working on certain cues and making sure relaying messages to each other and things like that on the field," said sophomore wide receiver Freddie Roberson on this week's preparation for a loud crowd.

"It really doesn't matter whether it be home or away. We're gonna come out and we're gonna play our game, we're going to be physical," said Criner. "We're going to use our preparation to help us come out on top."

Eastern Washington at Montana will kickoff at 6 PM on Friday night.