When the Eastern Washington University Eagles used a second half surge to pull away from, and ultimately beat Idaho State 55-34 last Saturday in Pocatello, the win allowed all the luster to remain for this week’s home game and Big Sky Conference showdown with Montana State.
The game at sold-out Roos Field kicks off at 12:05 p.m. and will decide who exits Cheney with the top spot in the conference. Both the No. 3 Eagles and fourth-ranked Bobcats are 5-0 in Big Sky play and 7-2 overall. The game will be televised live on ROOT Sports.
“It’s definitely a huge game,” Eastern head coach Beau Baldwin said. “We’re both undefeated coming into it so it makes it that much bigger.” Eastern will be after the 500th win in school history.
Both teams are on a roll with matching five-game winning streaks. The Bobcats stayed on task knocking off another second-division team, Northern Colorado 35-28 in Greeley.
Getting to have a match-up with so much on the line means a lot to Baldwin, and his team. “You have to enjoy the process and all the hours,” he said in Monday’s coaches show. “The game is just like the cherry on top.”
Eastern got just one offensive touchdown in their 2012 win in Bozeman 27-24. Eastern scored on a blocked punt by Dylan Zylstra that was recovered for a touchdown by Evan Day. Then Jordan Tonani returned an interception 21 yards for a touchdown to rally EWU from a 17-13 deficit entering the fourth quarter.
The Bobcats have a healthy DaNarius McGhee back in the lineup after the senior quarterback suffered a shoulder injury earlier in the season. “DaNarius at any time can take over a ballgame,” Baldwin said. “He understands how to win.”
But Montana State is “one of the better tackling teams,” Baldwin said. “They’re not, missing too many tackles.”
The Bobcats’ last trip to Cheney resulted in a 36-21 win in 2011, the first loss for Eastern on the Roos Field red turf.
Paul Delaney can be reached at email@example.com.