CHENEY, Wash. — Following a heartbreaking loss in double overtime on the road against FBS opponent Fresno State, the Eastern Washington Eagles are happy to be home.
"It has felt like it has been so long since we have played on the red turf," junior wide receiver Nolan Ulm said.
The Eags host Southeastern Louisiana on Saturday in the home opener at Roos Field.
After back to back road games to begin the season, the Eags are happy to have the opportunity to play in front of their home fans for the first time in 2023.
"Last year we did not do a good job of protecting the red, so I really do not think it is going to be an issue of a lack of energy after the last game, because we take pride in (protecting the red), we touch that sign every time we walk out, so we are just excited," Ulm said.
It will be the first time playing on the Inferno for many new Eags who are excited to see what gameday at Roos Field is all about.
"We are a very energetic group and we are pumped for the first opportunity to play at home on the red. It is my first opportunity and I am super juiced about it, we have been waiting for this moment to play at home for a while," Bucknell transfer linebacker Ben Allen said.
Following a tough double overtime loss, head coach Aaron Best believes his team will be able to bounce back strong.
"It is nice to know that this team is energetic enough to bounce back and not have our lips on our shoelaces as we go into week three and play on the home turf for the first time in 2023," Best said.
The Eastern offense actually outgained Fresno State 366 to 364 on Saturday and the defense mustered one of the best performances by an Eagle defense in quite some time. The team is hoping to ride that wave of momentum into this week's game.
"There is no such thing as a moral victory here at Eastern, but we were really excited with some of the things that were shown on film. It was nice to put a lot of points on the board and a lot of production from different positions," Ulm said.
"We just talk about energy and effort and 11 hats moving to the ball everyday and that is what we need to carry forward to the next nine games of the season," Allen said.
Young quarterback Kekoa Visperas was intercepted on the final play of the double overtime loss against Fresno State, but Coach Best trusts that his quarterback will learn from it and bounce back.
"He is going to win a lot of ballgames here. He did a lot of really good things and I do not want one bruise to negate all of the other good things he did. He is going to make mistakes here, but that is how you learn," Best said.
After a strong showing last week, Coach Best is happy with where his team is at heading into the home opener.
"It has been fun up to this point, wins and losses aside. This is a bunch that has grown a ton and matured on and off the field and they are hungry for their first win," Best said.
Both Eastern Washington and Southeastern Louisiana are seeking their first wins of the season on Saturday.
"Our guys are giddy. We have only gotten better and if we continue to get better week in and week out, polish some things up, namely penalties, then we have a pretty darn good product heading forward," Best said.
The Eags and Lions will kick it off at 1 pm on Saturday at Roos Field. KREM 2 will have highlights and postgame reaction following the game.
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