All momentum blocked

Eagles rally before half, come back to beat Nicholls State


Bailey Monteith

Sophomore Tamir Hill celebrates with Sophomore Kedrick Johnson after Johnson returned a blocked field goal for a touchdown at the end of the first half. The Eagles scored 13 points on special teams and seven on defense.

By Taylor Newquist, Sports Editor

With the offense stalling and momentum waning at the end of the first half, Nicholls State lined up for a 37-yard field goal to give them a 14-point lead, but junior defensive lineman Dylan Ledbetter had other plans.

Ledbetter pushed through the line to block the fourth kick of his career, sending the ball bounding toward the sideline, and into the hands of sophomore defensive back Kedrick Johnson, who picked it up and returned it the remaining 55 yards to the endzone.

“The first thing I thought was, ‘oh crap the ball is in my hands’,” Johnson said. “But I couldn’t have done it without the d-line and Dylan Ledbetter getting that big push and blocking that ball. We practice that scoop and score day in and day out.”

Bailey Monteith
Sophomore Kedrick Johnson runs 55 yards to score on the blocked kick. Johnson finished the game with seven tackles.

The No.3 Eagles (10-3) outscored the Colonels (9-4) by 25 points in the second half, en route to a 42-21 victory in the second round of the FCS playoffs. The win sets up a quarterfinal matchup in Cheney next week.

Despite committing nine penalties for 92 yards, and losing two turnovers, the Eagles put on a defensive display in the second half. They forced two fumbles and recovered one, and senior linebacker Ketner Kupp scored a 95 yard interception return. They also forced NSU to punt four times.

Senior running back Sam McPherson led the way for EWU offensively, totalling 135 yards rushing with two touchdowns. As a whole the Eagles ran for 244 yards, breaking the 1950 school record for rushing yards in a season with 3252.

“When I first came here we ran the ball maybe 10 times a game at the most,” McPherson said. “I think four guys are averaging over seven yards per carry and that is unheard of. We work day in and day out, it’s awesome to be a part of it, and awesome to have our names in the history books.”

The win was the first in the playoffs for starting quarterback Eric Barriere and for Aaron Best as head coach. Best said that the blocked field goal before halftime made a big difference.

“The DNA of a football team if what you do on field goal block,” Best said. “I believe that, our kids believe that and it was a game changer today.”

The Eagles return to the inferno next week, when they play the winner of No.6 UC Davis and Northern Iowa. Tickets go on sale Sunday, Dec. 2, and students will need to pick up their tickets at the bookstore during the week leading up the game.

Bailey Monteith
Offensive line coach Jase Butorac celebrates a touchdown. EWU ran for 237 yards in the game.