Eagles play Florida in highly anticipated matchup


Keri Kelly

Aaron Best gives a final send-off to the team after the scrimmage. (Photo edits by Emily Powers)

By Luke Pickett, Reporter

EWU football traveled to Gainesville, FL this week for a game played on Sunday against the Florida Gators.  The Eagles (1-3, 0-2) were defeated 52-17 by the heavily favored SEC program, Florida (3-2).

The Eagles started strong, scoring first after a long drive ending in a field goal.  Following the opening drive by EWU, it was all Florida.  Gunner Talkington 24-37 threw for 250 yards and a touchdown pass to Jakobie James.  EWU’s second touchdown also came in the fourth quarter on a 25 yard touchdown run by Kekoa Visperas.  

EWU’s offense looked sharp against a talented SEC defense as Talkington had more completion yards than UF quarterback, Anthony Richardson 8-10.  Richardson had a day himself with 240 yards and two touchdown passes.  

Both schools have had tough schedules to start the season. UF faced three nationally ranked FBS teams prior to the matchup with EWU.  For the Eagles, they came into the game after tough losses against Montana State and Oregon.  On Sunday, Florida’s offense established their dominance quickly after an opening play touchdown on their first possession.

The matchup was highly anticipated by longtime Eagles and Gators fans alike.  It was initially scheduled in 2016 to be played in 2020.  UF head coach from 2015-17, Jim McElwain, set the two non conference schools to meet up.  McElwain was an EWU graduate and part of the Eagles coaching staff from 1985 to 1994.  

When the exciting announcement in 2016 revealed McElwain and Florida’s agreement with EWU’s program, the game wound up not being played until six years later.  

Due to the pandemic in 2020, the game was rescheduled in 2021 to be played in 2022. Earlier this week, the game was once again delayed due to Hurricane Ian conditions in Florida.  

The Eagles look to bounce back from the challenging start to the season next week at Weber State on Oct. 8.