Eagles tame Mustangs to open Big Sky play


EWU RB Sam McPherson finds some room against Cal Poly on Sept. 22. McPherson finished with 84 yards and two touchdowns | Bailey Monteith for The Easterner

By Taylor Newquist, Sports Editor

The EWU defense took the wind out of Cal Poly’s sails early in the game, scoring two fumble return touchdowns in the first half, from defensive back Cole Karstetter and defensive end Jim Townsend.

“Those are just big plays,” Karstetter said. “We’ve kind of struggled in the last few weeks in the turnover aspect, so we really made an emphasis on that this week. It doesn’t take much for those guys (the offense) to get rolling, but anything we can do to spark that if they’re having a little bit of a slow start, we love doing that.”

The Eagles went on to win 70-17, mostly behind their rushing attack that gained 441 yards on the ground, 15 shy of its school record.

“It’s awesome to have four guys you can lean on and can win you ball-games,” head coach Aaron Best said about the running backs. “And they all know it, that’s the beautiful thing, and no one’s got an ego, so it’s a special bunch.”  

Cal Poly was left scrambling to catch up, and with the Mustangs using its triple option offense that constantly drains precious time off the clock, they never had much of a chance.

Running back Antoine Custer Jr. made his return to the EWU backfield adding 133 yards and two touchdowns in his season debut, including a 62-yard touchdown on his second carry of the game.

“It feels great to be back out there with my teammates and finally get to play on the red again,” Custer said. “It opens a lot of eyes [to win] against Cal Poly like that, a hard team to put up that many points [against].”

Sam McPherson added 84 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. The Mustangs didn’t seem to have an answer to stop them, giving up 14.7 yards per carry, a BSC record.

“I would argue the top four backs that we have in Antoine Custer, Sam McPherson, Tamarick Pierce, and Dennis Merritt, rival those guys against anybody in this league,” Best said.

Quarterback Gage Gubrud also found success through the air, adding 215 yards passing and completing 21-27 attempts and a touchdown. The Eagles offense averaged 11.1 yards per play.

The Eagles travel to Bozeman, Montana next week to take on the Montana State Bobcats. The Bobcats have opened the season 3-1, including a win over Portland State today. Kickoff is scheduled for 12:00 p.m.