Rockets hand Eagles first loss of season
After challenging the Toledo Rockets and beating them off the launch pad, Eastern Washington ran out of fuel in a 33-21 nonconference loss last Saturday at the Glass Bowl in the Ohio city along Lake Erie.
The Mid American Conference Football Bowl Subdivision Rockets (1-2) played a turnover-free game in handing the Big Sky Conference Eagles (2-1) their first defeat of the season. While Eastern’s two turnovers – a fumble and an interception – didn’t lead to Toledo points, the two miscues seemed to certainly stall hot starting Eastern from conquering their second FBS opponent.
In their season opener, Eastern scored one of the biggest upsets in college football this season with their 49-46 win at Pac-12 Oregon State, Aug. 31.
Leading 14-13 after the first quarter on a pair of Vernon Adams touchdown passes to Ashton Clark and Ryan Seto, Eastern watched as Toledo reeled off 17 straight points to lead 23-14 through three quarters. Toldeo’s two first quarter touchdowns came from David Fluellen.
The Eagles, who lost the total yardage battle 530-377, would rally and close to within 23-21 on Adams’ touchdown throw to Cooper Kupp just five seconds into the fourth quarter.
Toledo answered on its next possession with a D. Jones-Moore 4-yard run for a 30-21 lead with 8 minutes, 56 seconds to play and clinched it with Jeremiah Detmer’s 36-yard field goal with 32 seconds remaining.
“We are definitely going to find some things we can do better, but I’m also proud that we found a way to fight in a game like this too,” Eastern head coach Beau Baldwin said.
The sophomore quarterback Adams had 164 yards and two touchdowns passing in the first quarter leading Eastern to a 14-6 lead. He finished the game 21-of-41 for 326 yards, three touchdowns and one interception.
After that quick start, Eastern’s offense stagnated in the second and third quarters being held scoreless and having five possessions end on punts and two on turnovers.Enduring a slow start before making adjustments, Eastern’s defense came on to play a solid second and third quarter, Baldwin said.
“They went from maybe a sluggish start to playing some of their best football for two quarters,” Baldwin said. “It was awesome to see that, and against a high-level opponent on the road.”
Senior linebacker Ronnie Hamlin had 14 tackles to lead the Eagles. It’s the 10th time in his career Hamlin has finished in double figures in tackles. True freshman linebacker Albert Havili added 13 stops, and senior safety Allen Brown had 10.
Clark had six catches for 119 yards, plus a touchdown, while redshirt freshman Kupp added five catches for 70 yards as well as a score.
“We are going to have to keep cleaning up some things and move forward,” Baldwin said.
After a bye week, Eastern plays at Sam Houston State in a rematch of last year’s 45-42 loss in the semifinals of the FCS Playoffs Dec. 15. In that game, Eastern scored 42 second-half points to rally from a 35-0 deficit and nearly pulled off the unlikely comeback.
The Bearkats have now lost the last two title games in FCS. Currently 2-1 after beating Texas Southern 55-17, Houston Baptist 74-0 and falling to Texas A&M 65-28, Sam Houston State finished the 2012 season 11-4 overall and 6-1 in the Southland. The teams play in Cheney Sept. 13, 2014.