Nsimba roars past the Wildcat defense


The EWU colors fly before the football season opener against Central Washington University on Sept. 1. EWU beat CWU 58-13 | Jeremy Burnham for The Easterner

By Taylor Newquist, Sports Editor

A 50-yard touchdown pass from Gage Gubrud to Nsimba Webster opened the Eagles’ 2018 season, and Webster was not done yet. He racked in ten receptions for 212 yards and two touchdowns, and Gubrud would go on to throw for 337 yards and five touchdowns, in a 58-13 victory over Central Washington.

“Two days ago [Gubrud] came up to me and said, ‘are you ready to score a touchdown?’” Webster said describing a conversation between him and his quarterback on the team’s plan for the opening play. “I was like ‘what are you talking about’, and [Gubrud] said ‘it might be a touchdown to you first play.’”

Webster shook him off saying that he wasn’t going to expect too much, but that was exactly what happened. Not only that, but he totaled nearly a third of his entire output over last year’s season – 693 yards.

EWU WR Nsimba Webster on his way to the end zone | Jeremy Burnham for The Easterner

“We moved Nsimba inside from outside last year,” head coach Aaron Best said. “He’s going to be our swiss army knife as far as moving him around and getting him in certain matchups. We’re going to challenge him as the season wears on, but I think you saw some of the explosion, and again when you’re matching him up with safeties because you’re putting him on the inside of the formation, that can be a bonus to us.”

Sam McPherson led the way for the Eagles on the ground with a career high 185 yards, as the team totaled 328 yards rushing. EWU out-gained the Wildcats by 356 yards, holding them to 321, and recording 677 of their own.

The Eagles scored on nine of their first 12 possessions, including eight touchdowns, but lost three fumbles in the process and lost the overall turnover margin 3-1. Turnovers have been a point of concern for the Eagles and Best. One of the fumbles, right after a CWU touchdown at the end of the first half, gave the Wildcats at chance for a field goal and to build momentum heading into the locker room.

“It’s like playing catch with your dad in the front yard,” Best told his team during halftime after the fumble on the kickoff. “It was like, ‘it’s not me it’s not me’, but we’re not playing no-potato, let alone hot-potato. Get your hands on the ball, go down, have a kneel, and go into halftime.”

Best said that those kinds of situational things are good, because the team will be able to explore how they can adjust moving forward, whether it be scheme, personnel, or just making sure they’re more prepared in the future.

In all, there will be few complaints coming from the Eagle camp after today. The defense held CWU to zero points in the second half, which Best described as flat out amazing. They held former EWU quarterback Reilly Hennessey to just 164 yards through the air, and 53 yards rushing. Best said that he and the former player embraced, but that he’s not going to root for somebody while they’re playing against EWU. Ketner Kupp also said about facing Hennessey that it was a little weird, and that they shared some words with each other after plays.

The Eagles travel to Flagstaff, Arizona next weekend for a non-conference matchup against Northern Arizona. The two teams did not play against each other last year, although EWU leads the all-time series 20-12. The game is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 9 at 3 p.m.