Big challenge for Eastern's next opponent, Montana Western
The last time the Montana Western Bulldogs came to Cheney it rained both cats and dogs, and touchdowns.
That was Aug. 31, 2007, when after nearly a one-hour weather delay due to lightning and a heavy downpour, Eastern sophomore quarterback Matt Nichols deluged the ‘Dogs in the Eagles’ 52-13 nonconference victory in front of 5,006 soggy spectators at Woodward Field.
Nichols, who threw just eight touchdown passes in his entire freshman year, had six in just three quarters against the visitors from Dillon. Both Aaron Boyce and Tony Davis had a pair of touchdown catches. Then-Eastern head coach Paul Wulff dialed it down in a scoreless fourth quarter.
Nichols ended up 20 of 26 passing for 229 yards. Dale Morris had 148 yards rushing while Kevin Hatch had five tackles and a pair of interceptions.
So what’s in store Saturday when the 2014 version of National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Montana Western visits for a 6:05 p.m. kickoff at Roos Field?
Eastern, the nation’s top-ranked Football Championship Subdivision team, has only gotten better — much, much better — in the past eight seasons and comes off a huge nonconference 56-35 win last Saturday over Sam Houston.
While there is little chance of a letdown Saturday with the momentum the Eagles gained against the Bearkats, and with a big challenge ahead a week later when they travel to Seattle to face the University of Washington, EWU’s Beau Baldwin offered the always cautious coach-speak.
“They are going to look at it no different than the way we looked at Oregon State a year ago and will look at Washington in two weeks,” Baldwin said.
The Eagles have won their last five games versus lower-division foes dating back to 21-14 loss in 2006 to Central Washington. Baldwin was on Eastern’s sidelines as the team’s offensive coordinator in that game.
“It’s 11 college football players against 11 college football players and we are all looking to accomplish special things in a season and in every game,” he said.
The Bulldogs also played last Saturday at home against Frontier Conference and regional rival, Montana Tech from up Interstate 15 in Butte, winning 38-6. Senior quarterback Tyler Hulse threw for three touchdowns and had another rushing. Sophomore receiver Beau Brekke led team with four receptions, 67 yards and a touchdown. Montana Western scored on its first three possessions.
The Bulldogs feature Cheney product Noah Zieman, who is redshirting in 2014.
B.J. Robertson, a Montana Western alum, is entering his second season as head coach after finishing 4-6 last season.
The Eagles and Bulldogs met seven times when both schools were members of the NAIA in the 1960s and 1970s, and the Eagles won all seven.
This will be Eastern’s final home game until they host Idaho State, Oct. 4 on Hall of Fame Day.
Paul Delaney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.