Redbirds descend upon Roos Field for rematch against Eagles


Jessica Hawley

Zach Wimberly catches a pass versus Montana on Nov. 8

By Sam Deal and Fetlew Gebreziabher

The Eagles will not be the only redbirds attempting to ignite The Inferno during Saturday’s FCS quarterfinal game.

Eastern will host the Illinois State Redbirds, and their potent rushing attack, in Saturday’s rematch of a 2012 quarterfinal game, which EWU won 51-35.

The last time the teams met, quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. was competing for playing time Kyle Padron. Adams is now the back-to-back Big Sky offensive player of the year.

“He has evolved into a complete quarterback,” said head coach Beau Baldwin.

Adams, a Walter Payton award finalist, will not be the only dynamic quarterback on the field though as dual-threat junior Tre Robinson will attempt to match the Eagle’s pace.

Robinson and 220-pound running back Marshaun Coprich led the Redbirds to an 11-1 record in the Missouri Valley Conference and combined to rush for over 2,500 yards.

“They are physical and big,” said Baldwin. “The two guys that stand out are the [quarterback] and the running back and they do a great job of keeping you off-balance.”

On the Eagle’s side of the ball, sophomore Cooper Kupp is looking to break current wide receiver coach Nicholas Edwards’ school record for catches in a season. Kupp has 94 receptions and needs one to tie the record.

“He has been great,” said Kupp of Edwards. “He has really been pushing me this year.”

Current seniors Ronnie Hamlin, Quincy Forte and Cory Mitchell played large roles in the 2012 meeting and have been helping the team prepare throughout the week.

“It is interesting getting to come back three years later and getting a chance to be on the field and play [ISU],” said Kupp. “It’s going to be fun going up against Illinois State here on the red turf.”