EWU takes on Portland State for potential final game of the year

EWU looks to secure 13th straight winning season on Senior Day while clinging to slim playoff hopes


Richard N. Clark IV

The 24 playoff teams will be announced Sunday, Nov. 24.

By Drew Lawson, Sports Editor

The EWU football team hasn’t finished at or below .500 in 13 years. 

The Eagles (5-2, 6-5) will try and extend that streak Saturday in the likely season finale vs the Portland State Vikings (3-4, 5-6). 

Playoff Chances

EWU technically isn’t eliminated from FCS playoff contention yet, but its odds of making the 24-team field are slim. Senior defensive tackle Dylan Ledbetter said the team has been thinking about its playoff chances throughout the year, but knows EWU has to keep winning for that to be a relevant topic.

“We can’t be so blind to the fact that we need teams to lose and we need teams to beat good teams to really help our case,” Ledbetter said. “But … if we don’t win, we’re not going to make it. We have to win and we have to put our best record forward.”

The 24 playoff teams will be announced Sunday, Nov. 24. 

Honoring the Seniors

Saturday is Senior Day and will likely be the final game on The Inferno for 20 EWU players, including five offensive linemen. EWU head coach Aaron Best said Senior Day is always memorable.

“It’s always special, it’s always tough when you get to hug those guys,” Best said. “Those are memories that are going to last forever.”

Malati Powell
The EWU offensive line gets set for a play. EWU’s o-line consists of five seniors.

About the opponent

PSU has no chance of making the playoffs and is fighting to finish the season .500. 

The Vikings are led by quarterback Davis Alexander, who has thrown for 2,609 yards and 21 touchdowns. Receivers Emmanuel Daigbe and Davis Koetter have six receiving touchdowns each.

Defensively, PSU is led by Anthony Adams, who has 50 total tackles and five interceptions.

EWU’s offense currently leads the FCS in total yards. For the Eagles to wrap up the regular season on a four-game winning streak, they’ll have to ride that attack on The Inferno.

“If we don’t win, we’re not going to make it. We have to put our best foot forward.” -Dylan Ledbetter, Senior defensive tackle

The Easterner’s three keys to victory

1. Let Eric Barriere run wild

EWU junior quarterback Eric Barriere told the media last week that he hadn’t been fully healthy until early November due to an unspecified injury. EWU hasn’t lost a game in November, and Barriere has been using his legs much more to get out of the pocket and make plays for receivers down the field. Barriere has also been running more, as evidenced in EWU’s Nov. 16 42-41 win over Cal Poly, when the Eagles’ signal-caller ran 17 times for 164 yards and a touchdown. The Eagles are tough to beat when Barriere is on the move and making plays, so if he’s able to do that Saturday, EWU’s chances of victory drastically increase.

2. Improve the connection between Barriere and the EWU wide receivers 

As dominant as Barriere was on the ground in the win over Cal Poly, the air attack was a bit lacking. Barriere was 11 for 22 with 176 yards and a touchdown, and there were missed opportunities sprinkled throughout those 11 incompletions. When Barriere is clicking with his accuracy and the receivers are catching passes, EWU’s offense is a force to be reckoned with.

3. Keep the offense rolling

EWU has the top-rated offensive attack in the FCS right now, averaging 521.7 yards per game. EWU has been especially dominant offensively at home, averaging 622.2 yards and 53.5 points per game in the Eagles’ four home games.

Senior running back Antoine Custer Jr., who has rushed for over 1,000 yards this year, said it’s been nice to see the offense be in such a groove this season.

“I think our offense has always been there throughout the whole season,” Custer Jr. said. “I really love the way we’ve been producing on Saturdays. We’re moving the ball and spreading the field a lot.”

If EWU continues the trend of dominant home offensive performances on Saturday there’s a very good chance the Eagles walk out of Roos Field victorious.