The offense rolled up 398 yards and the defense had seven passes broken up and a pair of interceptions to highlight the Eastern Washington University football team's first full scrimmage of the spring on Friday (April 13) at Roos Field in Cheney, Wash.
With a trio of quarterbacks passing for 286 yards and scrambling for another 51, the offense had 398 yards in the 70-play session in rainy conditions. Eastern began practices on April 3, and actually went live for about 30 plays last Saturday when Eastern had its first practice in pads, also in a steady downpour.
The Eagle defense had most of its highlights early, including most of the squad's seven passes broken up on the day and a pair of interceptions by sophomore safety Calin Criner to squelch drives. The defense even had a safety as they held the offense scoreless on its first eight drives of the day, not including a pair of red zone possessions for the offense.
"A lot of guys took reps, and there was some really good football and some not so good football," said second-year head coach Aaron Best. "On one side you're excited about red zone turnovers on defense, and on the other side you're cringing as an offensive coach. We could have done away with those and at least stole three points out of those possessions. We will look at the film and take a peek at it to see what we can do differently.
"When you have good competition, and when you have good depth, guys are going to make plays," he continued. "We just want to make sure those plays are made, because they made a great play, and not gift them a play."
Starting quarterback Gage Gubrud completed 4-of-12 passes for 101 yards, and rushed for another 19. He scored on a 5-yard run to cap a six-play, 60-yard scoring drive.
Sophomore quarterback Eric Barriere led the offense on scoring drives of 74 and 82 yards, the first ending in a 7-yard TD pass to senior Terence Grady. The second drive ended on a 5-yard run by Dennis Merritt, the second of his two touchdowns on the day.
Grady caught four passes for 73 yards to lead the Eagles, and junior Tamarick Pierce had 44 rushing yards on seven carries. Barriere finished with 32 yards on the ground and was 10-of-17 through the air for 145 yards.
Best says he would like to see more consistency out of his office.
"We put the ball down this scrimmage and just wanted them to play," he said. "Last week was more of a control type of setting. This week we just wanted to put it down, and we only had a couple of controlled situations that we worked on. We need more consistency in the run game and consistency lining up, plus getting to the play and moving faster at a better tempo."
Eastern has 56 returning letterwinners returning, including an offensive unit with nine starters back. The Eastern defense has eight returning starters, including letter winners at two other positions with considerable starting experience. Seven offensive players and five defensive players have previously earned All-Big Sky accolades.
Eastern closed the season 7-4 overall and in a tie for third in the Big Sky Conference with a 6-2 record. It's the 11th-straight season the Eagles have finished 5-3 or better in the Big Sky. The Eagles also secured their record 11th-straight winning season and 20th in the last 22 years.
The Eagles have eight more practices and scrimmages this spring. Eastern will also scrimmage on Saturday, April 21 (at approximately 11:30 a.m.) before the annual Red-White Game takes place on Saturday, April 28 at 2 p.m. at Roos Field.
Safety – Gunner Talkington tackled in end zone
Dennis Merritt 4 run (Roldan Alcobendas kick)
Gage Gubrud 5 run (Alcobendas kick)
Terence Grady 7 pass from Eric Barriere (Andre Slyter kick)
Merritt 5 run (Jackson Clemensen kick)
Rushing: Tamarick Pierce 7-44, Eric Barriere 8-32, Dennis Merritt 9-18 2td, Gage Gubrud 4-19 1td, Antoine Custer Jr. 4-2, Calvin Cardwell 2-minus-3, Totals 34-112.
Passing: Gage Gubrud 4-of-12 101 2int, Eric Barriere 10-of-17 145 1td, Gunner Talkington 3-of-7 40, Alex Montonaga 0-of-1, Totals 17-of-36 286 2int 3td.
Receiving: Nsimba Webster 3-44, Terence Grady 4-73, Antoine Custer Jr. 2-76, Dylan Ingram 2-33, Dennis Merritt 2-13, Jayson Williams 1-18, Andrew Boston 1-12, Dre' Sonte Dorton 1-17, Totals 16-286 3td.
Tackles Leaders: Dehonta Hayes 9, Calin Criner 8, Daevon Guildford 5, Kedrick Johnson 5, Andrew Katzenberger 4, Jack Sendelbach 4, Cale Lindsay 4.
Interceptions: Calin Criner 2.
Passes Broken Up: Brandon Montgomery 2, Ira Branch, Darreon Moore, Nzuzi Webster, Kurt Calhoun, Jay-Tee Tiuli.
Sacks: Conner Baumann, Rudolph Mataia Jr.
Forced Fumble: Keith Moore
Fumble Recovery: None
37th Annual Killin Dinner/Dance/Auction is April 28 at EWU as Part of "Eagle Week"
Tickets are now on sale for the 37th Annual Killin Dinner, Dance and Auction, which is the featured event of "Eagle Week" at Eastern Washington University. Information and the registration link is at: http://goeags.com/killin
The event follows the annual Red-White Spring Football Game on April 28th at 2 p.m. at Roos Field in Cheney, Wash. Eastern's women's soccer team, the two-time defending Big Sky Conference Tournament champion and NCAA Tournament participant, will play Central Washington at 1 p.m. that day on the EWU Soccer Field.
Tickets are $100 per individual and $700 for a table of eight. Killin takes place at the EWU Sports and Recreation Center. The event starts with a social hour and auction at 4:30 p.m., followed by the dinner (6 p.m.), program/presentations/live auction (7 p.m.) and dancing (8 p.m.).
Net proceeds benefit areas of greatest need within Eastern Athletics. The event is named in honor of Orland Killin, who, along with his wife Bernice, helped create the event. Killin was a man immensely dedicated to academics and the integrity of Eastern Washington University, serving as professor, faculty athletic representative and faculty president. He was an Eastern football letter winner in 1941-42.
There is no admission charged for the Red-White Game and the women's soccer game.