Eagles lose to Lumberjacks, 28-27


Photo contributed by goeags.com

Cory Mitchell catches pass against NAU

By Samuel Deal, Sports Editor

A Northern Arizona Lumberjacks’ late rally chopped down the Eagles, 28-27, bringing an end to EWU football’s 14-game conference win streak.

In a back-and-forth game, the Lumberjacks used a last-minute touchdown drive to grab the lead. With only seven seconds left in the game, Eastern failed to convert for a score by attempting a play which featured a series of laterals, securing the victory for Northern Arizona.

Head coach Beau Baldwin put most of the blame on himself for the loss; one decision in particular has many Eagles fans scratching their heads.

“I understand losing happens and it bugs me. It’s not okay what happened, but it’s okay moving forward as long as I know our players are fighting and playing as hard as they can,” said Baldwin. “That loss is on me in my opinion.”

With 51 seconds remaining in the Urlagame, the Eagles faced a fourth-and-3 on the NAU 23. A field goal would have put the Eagles up by eight points.

Instead, Baldwin put the ball in the hands of sophomore backup quarterback Jordan West. He threw an errant pass in Cooper Kupp’s direction, turning the ball over on downs and allowing the Lumberjacks to race down the field and take the lead.

“It is a catch-22,” said EWU fan Mitchell cher. “The field goal seemed like a sure thing, but it is easy to look back and say they should’ve kicked it. The defense also should not have allowed [Northern Arizona] to go 77 yards on three plays.”

The loss drops the Eagles to 7-2 overall and 4-1 in conference, putting them in second place behind the University of Montana Grizzlies. The Eagles play the Grizzlies at Roos Field on Nov. 8, a game that will have major implications on playoff seedings.

As disappointing as the loss was, there were plenty of bright moments for EWU.

“Quincy [Forte] played his tail off and did a great job,” said Baldwin.

Forte’s return after missing four games was a boost to the team’s offense, as he was also able to punch through for a touchdown.

Special teams had another strong game, highlighted by a 41-yard Kupp punt return, which set up the first touchdown of the game.

Eastern will look to rebound on Nov. 1 when they return to Cheney for homecoming against University of North Dakota.

The stretch we’ve been on has been tough,” said Baldwin “But we have to move forward and find a way to go 1-0 next week.”