Late fumble recovery seals 32-26 Big Sky victory in Ogden, Griz visit Roos Saturday
FROM STAFF AND NEWS
The scene was different but so much of last Saturday's Eastern Washington University season-opening 32-26 Big Sky Conference victory over Weber State had such a familiar ring to it.
With 34 seconds remaining, Jerry Ceja sacked Wildcats' quarterback Mike Hoke and forced a fumble that Will Katoa pounced on at the 50-yard line to clinch the win at Elizabeth Dee Shaw Stewart Stadium in Ogden, Utah.
For Katoa, it was quite a homecoming of sorts as he graduated in 2009 from Judge Memorial High School down in Salt Lake City.
It was just a year ago when Charles Moetului forced a fumble with 21 seconds left that was recovered by teammate Anthony Larry on the Eastern 17. The Eagles held on to claim a 27-21 Roos Field victory over Weber and earned their first win of 2011 after an 0-4 start.
The Eagles now play their first home game of the year Saturday versus Montana with kickoff set for 4:05 p.m. at Roos Field.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Vernon Adams got the surprise start, leading the now seventh-ranked Eagles to a 20-3 halftime lead before cramps made him leave the game.
Adams led Eastern (1-0, 2-1) to scores on four of five drives in the first half as the Eagles took a 20-3 lead. He finished the game 7-of-12 for 75 yards, and ran five times for 62 yards. Junior transfer Kyle Padron came off the bench to complete 11-of-17 passes for 149 yards and a TD. He led Eastern to three second-half scoring drives. “Kyle stepped in and made a lot of huge throws,” EWU head coach Beau Baldwin said.
“This has been more of a battle than people think,” Baldwin added in a post-game radio interview as he addressed the battle to be the Eagles' starting quarterback. “I was proud of both QB's tonight. Obviously Vernon did some great things in that first half.”
Sophomore running back Jordan Talley scored twice and Jimmy Pavel kicked four field goals for the Eagles, who out-gained Weber 447-422 in total offense. Talley finished with 60 rushing yards and Quincy Forte had a team-leading 65 as EWU had 206 as a team. It was Eastern's best rushing performance since the 2010 season.
“It was a total team effort and Weber State is a very good football team that we defeated,” Baldwin said. “Any time you find a way to win on the road and get it done, it's huge.”
Padron started the second half, but threw an interception that led to a Weber State touchdown and two-point conversion, pulling the Wildcats to within 20-11.
However, Eastern scored the next two times it had the ball, with Pavel making his third field goal of the game and Padron throwing a 23-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Kaufman to give EWU a 29-11 advantage. That TD came after the fifth career interception for senior safety Jeff Minnerly, who also completed a pass on a fake field goal attempt earlier in the game.
The Wildcats used a 71-yard catch and run to pull within 29-19 at the end of the third quarter. The Eagles, however, responded with a 13-play, 85-yard drive that took 8:35 off the clock, capped by the fourth field goal of the game by Pavel.
Weber State (0-1, 0-4) scored again to pull within six, then got the ball back with 1:49 left at their own 14-yard line. They drove 36 yards before the sack and fumble.
The game was a match-up of former coordinators at EWU, as Baldwin and Jody Sears matched wits against one another on the football field for four seasons from 2003-06.
Linebacker Ronnie Hamlin, a junior, led the Eagles with 11 tackles and senior linebacker Grant Williams added eight. Junior cornerback T.J. Lee also had eight tackles, a pass broken up and had a forced fumble on a sack that he also recovered, which led to Pavel's first field goal of the game.
“Our defense came out, we gave our best effort,” Lee said. “We capitalized on a lot of plays, especially at the end of the game.”
Eastern Washington University Eagles versus University of Montana
Grizzlies Saturday, Sept. 29, 2012, 4:15 p.m.
Roos Field (11,000)
TV: Root Sports (Rich Burk, Jason Stiles & Jenny Cavnar). Radio: 700-AM ESPN in Spokane. Larry Weir returns for his 22nd season calling the play-by-play, with analysis handled by Paul Sorensen and sideline commentary by Keith Osso. Osso will also serve as host of the Eagle Tailgate Show, starting 1 1/2 hours prior to kickoff. Internet Radio: www.700espn.com or www.tunein.com. Radio iPhone App: Search for “Spokane Radio” and download app. An app is also available for tunein radio.Webcast: None. Live Stats: ewulive.statb.us (Web) or ewustats.com (mobile phones)Weekly Coaches Show: Mondays 6 p.m. at the Q Sports Bar and Restaurant at Northern Quest Resort & Casino. 700-AM ESPN, www.700espn.com & via iPhone app. (search for “Spokane Radio” and download app).