Explosive Eastern rolls past Cal Poly
Eagles score in quick bursts in 48-13 win
Last updated 11/9/2023 at 11:45am
CHENEY - When it rained it poured, literally and figuratively in Eastern Washington's Big Sky Conference football game Nov. 4 against Cal Poly.
On a day where Cheney experienced over a half inch of rain, the Eagles scored in bursts, rolling over the Mustangs 48-13, led by former Eagles' head coach Paul Wulff.
It took just a handful of touches of the ball by Eastern to build a 14-0 lead in the first 2 minutes, 44 seconds.
Michael Wortham returned the opening kickoff 86 yards and then Tuna Altahir finished with a 14-yard touchdown run with the game just 19 seconds old.
"(Wortham) is an explosive player. It's fun, and we talked about it all week... (starting) with a big return, and we did that," head coach Aaron Best said. "Coach (Zach) Bruce has done a good job with that unit, and it helps when you have (number) 13 back there."
Four plays into their first possession Cal Poly quarterback Sam Guard fumbled, Jaren Banks recovered and two plays later Justice Jackson ran 19 yards for the Eagles' second touchdown, all before most of the hearty crowd - announced at 4,345 - maybe had a chance to find their seats.
But it got worse, much worse, for Cal Poly.
To open the second quarter, Eastern scored three times in five minutes.
Altahir and Jackson each had touchdown passes from Kekoa Visperas. Then Huard, a transfer from the University of Washington, while pressured by Isaiah Perez, threw to the left and instead of his receiver, Eastern's Cage Schenck was right place, right time for a 16-yard pick-six interception return.
It was all part of a 31-7 second quarter, capped by Altahir's third score and a Soren McKee field goal which gave the Eagles a 45-9 halftime lead.
In a greatly toned-down second half, where most of the crowd stayed in the tailgating area, Cal Poly (1-5 Big Sky, 3-6 overall) outscored Eastern 4-3 as a pair of safeties countered McKee's second field goal.
The Mustang's first points of the game also came via a safety with 4:45 to play in the opening quarter. Setting up to punt deep in their own end, the snap sailed over Nick Kokich's head.
Eastern finished with 374 yards of total offense, including 205 on the ground, improving improved to 4-5 on the season, 3-3 in conference.
Altahir finished with 12 carries for a season-high 104 yards and a pair of touchdowns running and one on a pass. Jackson turned in 100 total yards, including those from two catches and he added had two scores.
Efton Chism III led all receivers with 5 catches for 62 yards and Visperas went 15-for-25 for 169 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Defensively, EWU interior lineman Matt Brown led the way with 7 tackles, his second-straight week leading the team.
"At the end of the day you try to look at things holistically, the weather was awful but we fought through that first 30 minutes especially, and that was enough... (they were) not easy elements to play in, but I think we handled it well," Best said.
The Eagles head to Bozeman Nov. 11 to face 6th-ranked Montana State.
The 7-2 Bobcats beat Northern Arizona at home 45-21.