Cheney Free Press -

Staff Reporter 

Eagles try to end skid, hang onto postseason

Eastern travels to North Dakota with new QB at controls


November 9, 2017

Paul Delaney

Nsimba Webster hauls down Eastern's second touchdown last Saturday.

So much for all the "experts" who throw darts at the target in July and try to predict how things will look like in November in the Big Sky Conference football standings.

Between the coaches and media, both picked defending co-champions, Eastern Washington and North Dakota, to finish one-two. Fast-forward five months and reality has set in.

While Eastern barely hangs in the race, reeling from two consecutive conference losses and playing for their postseason lives, North Dakota closes out its season in an 11:05 a.m. kickoff at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks hoping to put some kind of exclamation point on their current 3-7 record.

Injuries have plagued the Fighting Hawks this season. "They've been devastated by injuries from the get-go, and it's unfortunate because Coach (Bubba) Schweigert really had them competing hard last year and into the playoffs," EWU head coach Aaron Best said.

The Eagles are still among seven league teams fighting not only for the league title, but berths in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision Playoffs, which begin on Nov. 25.

Eastern is coming off 28-20 Homecoming loss to Weber State and falls to 5-4 for the season and 4-2 in the league. They are tied with a trio of teams they have already defeated - Montana, Sacramento State and Montana State - and are behind the 5-1 records of Northern Arizona, Southern Utah and Weber State.

On Saturday, the Eagles could be handicapped by the loss of quarterback Gage Gubrud and linebacker Kurt Calhoun, both starters and each suspended for a game following their arrest Nov. 5 for obstructing Cheney police in the arrest of a friend. Gubrud will be replaced in the lineup by redshirt freshman Eric Barriere, who will make his first start in an Eastern uniform.

"We just need to go out and play ball this week," Best said. "We'll play for each other and do whatever we can to go get a win at Grand Forks." Eastern seeks to remain perfect in only the fourth game in the new series.

After this week's game, Eastern closes the regular season by hosting Portland State for Senior Day on Nov. 18.

Eagles vs. North Dakota

No. 19/21 ranked Eastern Washington vs. North Dakota, Saturday, Nov. 11, 11:05 a.m. Alerus Center (12,283), Grand Forks, N.D. TV: SWX. Radio: 700-AM ESPN and 105.3-FM in the Spokane/Cheney area. Larry Weir returns for his 27th season calling the play-by-play, with analysis handled by Paul Sorensen. Broadcasts begin one hour prior to kickoff and include an expanded post-game show.

Paul Delaney can be reached at


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