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Big Plays Not Enough for Eagles Against No. 15 Idaho

by Contributed report/EWU Athletics
| November 7, 2022 12:40 PM

Eastern Washington football made the short road trip to Moscow to play No. 15 Idaho today (Nov. 5). Eastern put up two scoring plays of 70+ yards, but the Vandals would win the game, 48-16. The Eagles fall to 1-5 in the Big Sky and 2-7 overall this season. Idaho improves to 5-1 in conference and 6-3 overall.

The start of the game was promising for Eastern, as Wyatt Hawkins kicked a 35-yard field goal and Keshaun King picked off Idaho inside their own territory. The Eagles were unable to take advantage of the turnover and were stopped on fourth down at 5:56 in the first quarter.

Idaho then scored 21 straight points between the first and second quarters to seize control in the game.

An 87-yard touchdown strike from Gunner Talkington to Nolan Ulm would give Eastern a momentum boost. It was the longest career pass for Talkington and longest reception for Ulm, along with the ninth longest pass play in program history. The Eagles trimmed the lead down to 21-10.

Quick to respond, Idaho scored 14 points to close the first half and held a 35-10 lead at the break. The game slowed down in the second half, but the Vandals managed to outscore the Eagles 13-6.

Freddie Roberson scored the Eagles' second touchdown, a 75-yard catch-and-run on a bullet pass from Talkington. The offensive jolt was not enough to rally the team and the No. 15 Vandals prevailed in Moscow.

"I was excited. We were up 3-0 and Keshaun [King] gets the pick early on the plus side of the 50. We just didn't manufacture points," head coach Aaron Best said. "We went for it on fourth on both opportunities inside their territory. We got three points on the early opportunity, but we didn't muster up any points on the second one. The game got away from us and Idaho did what they do best, running the ball and playing defense. We had too many three, four, five-and outs. We had some big explosive plays, but we didn't patch enough together at times. It doesn't help when we couldn't run the ball as good as we have shown this season. There were opportunities and we just didn't execute the way we need to."

In the game, Eastern had 279 yards of total offense, putting up 242 in the air. Idaho finished with 531 total yards, getting 308 on the ground.

Talkington finished 15 of 24 for 232 yards and two touchdown passes. Ulm caught three passes for 99 yards and a touchdown, with Roberson making three catches for 86 and one score.

Along with King, Tre Weed grabbed his second interception of the season. Weed also had two pass break ups. Marlon Jones Jr. and Jaren Banks tied for the team lead with seven total tackles. Banks recorded one tackle for loss, with Matthew Brown getting a tackle for loss as well.

Eastern drops to 66-3 since 2010 when winning the turnover battle. The team is now 0-4 against ranked teams this season and its third loss in a row to the Vandals in Moscow.

The Eagles will stay on the road and play Montana next Saturday, Nov. 12 with kickoff at 12 p.m. Pacific Time.

Scoring Summary and Game Details

Eastern would get on the scoreboard first as Wyatt Hawkins converted a 35-yard field goal for a 3-0 lead. The Eagles drove 58 yards on 13 plays to put Hawkins in position for the attempt.

On the next Idaho drive, Keshaun King would get his second interception and fifth for his career to give Eastern another opportunity in Vandal territory at the 7:57 mark. The Eagles were stopped on fourth down and Idaho had the ball back with 5:56 left in the first.

The Vandals then found the end zone on a 33-yard touchdown pass, part of a six play, 77-yard drive that lasted 2:17. Idaho now had a 7-3 lead in the game.

The first quarter ended with the score 7-3, but the Vandals had moved into the red zone. With just 12 seconds off the clock, Idaho scored its second touchdown on a 17-yard pass. The Vandal drive was five plays for 63 yards in 2:09.

Idaho would score on its third-straight possession, by way of an 18-yard touchdown pass. After the PAT was good, the Vandals had a 21-3 lead with 10:04 left in the half. The drive consisted of seven plays and covered 47 yards in 3:54.

Eastern's defense forced a Vandal punt that put the team on their own eight-yard line. Gunner Talkington found Nolan Ulm on a go-route, and he raced 87 yards for the touchdown. The PAT was good and Eastern closed the lead to 21-10. It was Ulm's fourth touchdown reception of the season and fifth for his career. The drive was two plays for 92 yards and only took 38 seconds of the clock.

Idaho responded with two touchdowns in the final three minutes of the half and extended its lead to 35-10 over Eastern.

The Vandals would grind the ball down the field to add a 31-yard field goal in a 14 play, 47-yard drive that lasted 6:06. It was Idaho's the first points of the second half and had a 38-10 lead in the game with 8:01 left in the third.

On Idaho's next possession, Tre Weed tracked the ball perfectly in the end zone and came up with his second interception of the season and fifth for his career.

The game would go to the third quarter with Idaho leading 38-10.

With 10:09 left in the game, Idaho tacked on a field goal to extend its lead to 41-10. The drive was 11 plays for 71 yards in 5:59.

Eastern quickly countered the Vandal field goal with a 75-yard touchdown pass from Talkington to Freddie Roberson. The drive was one play and took only 10 seconds off the clock. After the PAT missed, Eastern had brought the score to 41-16 with 9:59 on the clock.

Idaho scored one more touchdown at the 7:07 mark in the fourth quarter and went on to win the game 48-16.

Additional Comments from Coach Best

On the defense

"It's the consummate team game. There are 11 guys who have to do their jobs. Our guys are flying around trying to make plays. The defense was out there, ultimately, too much today. They had their backs against the wall, and they stood up and didn't give up points. There were a ton of good plays."

On the team's effort

"All our guys come to work and prepare as well as they can. There is no lack of focus or energy in practice. These guys come ready. It's the Eagle DNA that has been passed down from the upper classman. That's who we are. It doesn't matter where we are in the season or in a game. If the ball doesn't bounce our way, we are not going to choose to do things a different way. With effort comes execution. When we put those two things together, we are a dynamic team. We have shown that, in pockets, through nine games this season."

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