Eagles claw, but can’t dig out of first half hole


EWU RB Tamarick Pierce finds some open space during EWU’s 59-24 loss to Washington State on Sept. 15 | Bailey Monteith for The Easterner

By Taylor Newquist, Sports Editor

The EWU football team was unable to re-create the special upset victory it had in Pullman just two years ago. Tonight, WSU led the entire game, resulting in a 59-24 loss for the Eagles.

The Eagles fought most of the second half to dig themselves out of the 28-3 deficit they held with 2:17 remaining in the second quarter. They closed the gap to 11 points two times at scores of 28-17 and 35-24, but ultimately Gage Gubrud’s three interceptions, and the Cougar passing offense, was too much to overcome.

Cougar quarterback Gardner Minshew II completed 45 of 57 attempts with 470 yards and two touchdowns, while Gubrud completed 14 of 36 attempts with 231 yards and three touchdowns.

“I don’t think it was necessarily hard to read their defense,” Gubrud said. “It was just some bad decisions.”

Turnovers and penalties killed any momentum that EWU was building throughout the game. A defensive pass interference call in the end zone on a third down late in the second quarter gave WSU a first down on the two-yard line. That ended in a rushing touchdown, rather than the Cougars being held to a field goal attempt. In the third quarter, the Eagles had the ball in their own territory trailing 35-24. Cougar linebacker Jahad Woods made an outstanding one-handed interception that stopped any chance of an EWU comeback.

“I thought we played really decent at times and really poor at times in all three facets,” head coach Aaron Best said. “That is a good football team and I’m curious to see what their record is at the end of the year.”

There are positive and negative takeaways for the Eagles tonight. They continued to run the ball efficiently totaling 134 yards on 34 carries. Notably, Tamarick Pierce gained 67 yards on six carries. Pierce also broke several tackles and that was a big part of his 11.2 yard-per-carry average.

Standout wide receiver Nsimba Webster was sidelined at the end of the first half. Best did not have any update on his condition, but said it was a lower-leg injury, and that he was trying to get back out there.

WSU has more depth and access to talented players due to their FBS, PAC-12 standing, which showed late in the game when the Eagles allowed three straight touchdowns in the fourth quarter. After the game, however, Best said that there are no moral victories at EWU football.

The Eagles will have to pick themselves back up when they start Big Sky Conference play next week against Cal Poly, to fulfill their mantra and ‘leave no doubt’ in making it to the FCS playoffs. The game is scheduled for a 1:05 p.m. kickoff at Roos Field, and will be the EWU Hall of Fame Game.