CHENEY, Wash. — Mother Nature herself could not deter a fantastic ending in the season opener for the Eastern Washington football team today.
The Eags received a late go ahead touchdown pass from quarterback Gunner Talkington to Efton Chism III and a game sealing interception by defensive back Tre Weed to defeat the Tennessee State Tigers 36-29 today at Roos Field.
This all came after a 45 minute lightning delay with 3:16 remaining in the third quarter. The Eags led 29-19 at the time of the delay, but Tennessee State scored 10 straight points to tie the game at 29 with 6:32 to play.
The first half was a back and forth shootout between the two teams. On Tennessee State's first play from scrimmage, wide receiver Zack Dobson looked to be wrapped up for a short gain, but he somehow broke through several arm tackles for a 67 yard touchdown to put the Tigers up 7-0.
A couple of possessions later, Talkington found wide receiver Nolan Ulm in the back of the end zone for a touchdown. EWU would also convert a two point conversion to take an 8-7 lead.
Tennessee State would hit right back with another big play as Ellis found wide receiver Cam Wyche on a short pass and he ran straight through the EWU defense to put the Tigers up 13-8.
EWU would respond with Talkington finding Robert Mason III wide open in the right corner of the end zone for a 22 yard touchdown pass to give the Eags a 15-13 lead.
The Tigers would get yet another big play on their next possession as Devon Starling would take an Ellis handoff 43 yards for the touchdown to retake the lead 19-15.
After Seth Harrison missed a 33 yard field goal, the Eagles' defense would finally catch a break as Ellis inadvertently ran into Starling and fumbled the ball which was recovered by EWU.
The Eags would capitalize as Talkington found Blake Gobel wide open in the end zone for a 14 yard touchdown pass to retake the lead at 22-19.
EWU would ride that momentum into forcing another turnover as Brock Harrison would strip sack Ellis. The fumble was recovered by Caleb Davis setting the Eags up in great field position for a short touchdown pass from Talkington to Chism and a 29-19 lead, which they would take into the half.
Tennessee State would kick a field goal and Ellis would take it in himself on a four yard quarterback keeper to tie the score at 29 with 6:32 to go.
Talkington showed no nerves manufacturing the game winning drive. He hit Chism twice on the drive for a 17 yard gain and nine yard gain respectively to set up the game winning touchdown.
Talkington lofted a pass into the left corner of the end zone and Chism made a terrific diving catch to give the Eags a 36-29 lead.
In a last gasp for Tennessee State with 53 seconds to play, quarterback Draylen Ellis launched a prayer downfield into triple coverage that Weed came away with for the game sealing interception.
EWU heads to Eugene next Saturday to take on the Oregon Ducks at Autzen Stadium. Kickoff for that game is set for 7 PM.