Eagles Fall Short in Comeback Attempt, Lose 24-20 to Cougars

By Peter Sowards, Senior Reporter

The Eastern Washington Eagles do not want to hear about moral victories.

After falling just short on an attempted fourth quarter comeback and losing 24-20 to the Washington State Cougars on Saturday, some have opined that this should be considered a moral victory. After all, WSU was a 19-point favorite playing at home and an FBS team, while EWU is in the lower-tier FCS.

Eagles’ head coach Beau Baldwin dismissed that notion immediately.

“By no means am I sitting here excited about some moral victory,” Baldwin said. “I don’t believe in moral victories. We came down here with a mindset that we’re going to get a ‘W,’ so if we don’t we’re disappointed.”

Wide receiver Brandon Kaufman echoed his coach’s sentiments. “We expected to win,” Kaufman said. “No moral victories in this sport.

The Eagles started extremely slow offensively, totaling zero net yards on their first two offensive series. On the third, however, quarterback Kyle Padron found Kaufman streaking down the right sideline for a 93-yard touchdown that tied the game at seven. A penalty flag was thrown due to Kaufman stepping out of bounds before making the catch but the referees picked up the flag after determining that he was forced out of bounds by the defender.

Kaufman talked about how important it was to score points against a Mike Leach-led offense. “All week we were talking about outscoring their offense,” Kaufman said. “We really thought we could. We really thought we’d put up some points this game, but like I said just the little miscues, mistimings, balls off a little bit, our routes not timed up right. We really wanted to put up some points.”

The offense stayed hot into the next series, marching down the field 80 yards on 11 plays in 4:42 culminating in a Jordan Talley five-yard touchdown run.

After the Eagles’ defense forced a three-and-out, Padron and the offense looked to score their third touchdown in as many possessions and go up 21-14. Instead, Padron was intercepted while rolling to his right and making an ill advised throw across his body into traffic. The throw was picked off by Cyrus Coen, who returned it 27 yards to the Eagles’ 17 yard-line. The very next play resulted in a touchdown for the Cougars when WSU quarterback Jeff Tuel hit Isiah Myers in the back of the endzone for the second touchdown of the game for both players.

Padron was intercepted again as the first half was coming to a close. The throw came on third down as Padron heaved the ball downfield in hopes that one of his receivers would come down with it. Starting at their own 32-yard-line, WSU moved 25 yards in two plays and called a timeout, setting up a 60-yard field-goal attempt with 0:02 left in the half. WSU’s kicker, junior Andrew Furney, blasted it between the uprights and gave WSU a 24-14 lead going into halftime and putting his name into the record books, kicking the second-longest field-goal in school history.

Despite combining for 41 points in the first half, neither team was able to muster up any offense until the last six minutes of the game. WSU was on the verge of putting the game away, only one yard away from a touchdown and leading 31-14 with 6:10 left. Instead, true-freshman running back Teondray Caldwell fumbled and defensive back Allen Brown recovered, rekindling hope of an Eagles comeback.

The Eagles offense needed to go 99 yards for a touchdown and making the game a one-score affair. Padron and the offense responded, and he threw his second touchdown of the game to Kaufman with 3:26 left to close the gap to 24-20. Kicker Jimmy Pavel’s point-after-touchdown attempt was blocked, eliminating any chance of a field goal tying the game for the Eagles.

EWU’s defense held and gave the offense the ball back at their own 17 with 1:41 to play and no timeouts. Padron converted two fourth downs on the drive and the Eagles’ offense was able to matriculate the ball to the Cougars’ 33-yard-line with 0:03 left, time enough for one final heave to the endzone. Padron lobbed a ball into the right corner of the endzone into a litany of red and white jerseys, but the pass was batted down and the ballgame was over.

Despite the loss, Eagles’ head coach Beau Baldwin was proud of his team’s effort. “I’m not panicking,” Baldwin said. “I told the guys this: ‘If it was for a lack of effort a lack of heart or intelligence, things like that, I’d be a little worried, but it’s not.’ We don’t lack that stuff, and I love ‘em for that.”

Padron finished the game completing 26 of his 54 attempts and totaling 379 passing yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Kaufman led all receivers with five receptions for 142 receiving yards and two touchdowns. Running back Talley had an effective day on the ground, carrying the ball 14 times for 71 yards and a touchdown.