Eagles stumble in 27-30 loss to Southern Utah

Eagles stumble in 27-30 loss to Southern Utah

The Eagles are undefeated in the Big Sky Conference no longer.

Thanks to a slew of miscues in the fourth quarter, EWU lost to Southern Utah 30-27 on Oct. 27 and dropped to 6-2 overall and 5-1 in league play. The Thunderbirds improved to 4-5 overall and 3-3 in the conference.

Eagles head coach Beau Baldwin again employed a dual-quarterback system with Vernon Adams and Kyle Padron splitting time. Padron got the bulk of the work, completing 24 of his 35 pass attempts for 223 yards and one touchdown. Adams threw for 181 yards, completing 11 passes on 15 attempts while throwing for one touchdown and one interception.

Leading 27-20 at the beginning of the fourth quarter, the Eagles were poised to make it a two-possession game after Padron had led the offense down to the SUU 12-yard line. However, Eagles running back Demitrius Bronson coughed up the football on a second-down carry and it was recovered by the SUU defense. Bronson rushed for 44 of his 56 yards on the drive before the fumble.

“A few times we made some mistakes, especially going in to score,” Baldwin said. “But you have to hand it to them too. Sometimes teams will force you into some mistakes as well. It was just a good hard-fought battle and they made a few more plays than we did.”

Southern Utah and EWU traded punts on the next two possessions. After the Thunderbirds received the ball, they marched down the field on a seven play, 78-yard drive culminating in a 21-yard touchdown pass by quarterback Brad Sorensen, his only touchdown of the game. Sorensen threw for 392 yards on the day, completing 33 of his 43 passing attempts with one interception.

The Eagles had a chance to take the lead with just under three minutes to go in the ballgame as kicker Jimmy Pavel lined up for a 37-yard field goal. Unfortunately for EWU, Pavel had his first missed field goal of the season as the kick sailed wide left. Pavel made two field goals earlier in the game, connecting from 45 yards and 23 yards.

Taking over at their own 20-yard line, Southern Utah put together a 10 play, 61-yard drive consuming all but three seconds of time left in regulation. Colton Cook nailed a 36-yard field goal to win the game for the Thunderbirds, his third made field goal of the day out of three attempts.

Eastern fell from No. 1 to No. 7 in the national rankings that were released on Oct. 29.

The game featured a combined 987 yards of total offense and 51 first downs from both teams. Brandon Kaufman had his most productive game as an Eagle, setting career-highs in both catches and receiving yards with 10 and 192, respectively. Ashton Clark also set a career-high with 11 catches, totaling 86 yards and a touchdown. His 11 catches rank 12th in school history for a single game.

The Eagles will return home to Roos Field and take on the Cal Poly Mustangs on Nov. 3rd. Cal Poly is 7-1 overall and 5-1 in Big Sky Conference play with their lone loss coming on Oct. 27 versus Sacramento State. They had been ranked No. 11 in the Football Championship Subdivision rankings before the loss but have since dropped to No. 16.

EWU won a 53-51 triple overtime thriller versus the Mustangs in 2011 in a game that was highlighted by five passing touchdowns from former Eagles gunslinger Bo Levi Mitchell. The Eagles defense stopped Cal Poly on the two-point conversion attempt in triple overtime to secure their fifth win of the season and get the team back to .500.

Cal Poly runs the ball more than any other team in the Big Sky conference, tallying 487 attempts in eight games, an average of over 60 attempts per game. Their 323.4 rushing yards per game and 26 rushing touchdowns are also tops in the conference. The Eagles, in contrast, average only 139.5 rushing yards per game and have scored just eight rushing touchdowns.

With only 98 passing attempts on the season, the Cal Poly Mustangs have attempted 155 fewer passes than the next lowest team, Northern Arizona. They average just 106.8 yards passing per game and have thrown 12 touchdowns to one interception.

Cal Poly’s rushing attack is led by Deonte Williams, a senior running back who leads the Big Sky Conference with 1,094 rushing yards on the season, an average of 136.8 yards per game. His nine rushing touchdowns tie him for the best mark in the conference and he has also thrown for one touchdown.

Despite such a limited aerial assault, the Mustangs are the highest scoring team in the Big Sky, averaging 37.8 points per game. EWU ranks sixth in scoring, averaging 30.5 points per game. Defensively, the Mustangs hold opponents to 23.0 points per game, a number slightly bettered by the Eagles, who average 22.2 points allowed per game.