Eagle offense hums in win over NAU

EWU racks up over 700 yards of total offense in 13th straight home victory


Mckenzie Ford for The Easterner

EWU senior running back Antoine Custer Jr. cuts upfield. Custer had 139 rushing yards and three touchdowns in EWU’s 66-38 win over NAU Saturday.

By Drew Lawson, Sports Editor

The points came easily for the EWU football team (3-2, 4-5) Saturday. The Eagles scored six touchdowns and kicked a field goal on their first seven possessions en route to a 66-38 victory over the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks (2-3, 4-5).

EWU was led by junior quarterback Eric Barriere, who threw for 367 yards and three touchdowns while rushing for 101 yards and a score.

Barriere said his high rushing total came as part of EWU’s game plan to get him going on the ground.

“We (wanted) to give the NAU defense something to respect,” Barriere said. “They know they have to respect our pass game, but they also have to respect the quarterback and running back too.”

The scoring came early and often for both teams. NAU scored touchdowns on its first two drives, while EWU scored a touchdown on its first play from scrimmage when Barriere hit junior wide receiver Talolo Limu-Jones for a 75-yard score.

The EWU defense settled down after NAU’s two early scoring drives, holding the Lumberjacks scoreless on their ensuing three drives. Meanwhile, the EWU offense scored 24 unanswered points to give EWU a 31-14 lead with 9:23 left in the second quarter. Senior running back Antoine Custer Jr. had three rushing touchdowns during the 24-0 EWU run.

NAU managed 10 more points before halftime, but EWU added another touchdown of its own on a 9-yard score by senior running back Tamarick Pierce to take a 38-24 lead into intermission.

In the second half, the EWU defense put the clamps down, allowing just seven third quarter points. The game was essentially put away for good when a bad snap by NAU senior center Trevor Reinwald sailed over senior quarterback Case Cookus’s head and was recovered by EWU senior linebacker Andrew Katzenberger for a 77-yard fumble recovery touchdown. NAU was threatening to score and cut EWU’s lead to 14, but Katzenberger’s scoop and score instead ballooned EWU’s cushion to 59-31 with 2:27 left in the third quarter.

Katzenberger said his touchdown was a big swing in momentum that favored EWU.

“It goes from them maybe getting the (deficit) to 14 points to us being up 28,” Katzenberger said. “It was a pretty big point for us.”

Katzenberger said he hadn’t had a play with the ball in his hands that long since high school.

“I was tired,” Katzenberger said.

EWU head coach Aaron Best said he thought it was EWU’s most complete game of the season.

“There were some explosive plays on offense, and we rebounded when we gave up touchdowns on the first two series on defense,” Best said. “We’ve kind of been a first half team for the better part of the year … but we responded really well out of halftime as a team.”

Custer Jr. had 139 rushing yards and three touchdowns to pace the EWU rushing attack. Limu-Jones led the EWU receiving corps with eight receptions for a career-high 147 yards and a score. Senior wide receiver Jayson Williams added six receptions for 86 yards and a touchdown.

EWU’s 706 yards of total offense were the fifth-most in school history. The 66 points were the most scored against NAU in a Big Sky Conference game since 1993.

EWU will now head on the road to take on the Idaho State Bengals (2-4, 3-6). EWU is 0-5 on the road this season. Kickoff from Pocatello, Idaho is scheduled for 1:35 p.m.