Eastern’s big win, the morning after
PORTLAND - Everybody has a story, as they say, and they all begged to be told in the wake of Eastern Washington’s 49-46 win last night over Oregon State.
But I couldn’t, even in the longest game story I’ve every written in my short time covering the Eagle football team, and even after interviewing roughly two dozen players and coaches.
Besides Vernon Adams, whose record-breaking game will long be remembered here and in Cheney, there were more than enough stories to go around:
There was Brandon Murphy, the offensive lineman from nearby Albany, a high school star who the OSU coaching staff decided “wasn't quite what the coaches wanted,” he recalled after the game, where he helped the Eagles amass 625 yards of total offense.
Then there was wide receiver Ashton Clark, a newly minted senior captain who burnished his reputation with nine catches for 155 yards and something even more important. “He showed a lot of leadership,” said another big story, redshirt freshman wideout Cooper Kupp, who first game since high school included five catches, 119 yards and two TDs despite the cramps that finally put him on the sidelines in the fourth quarter.
Another receiver, Blair Bomber, was just “trying to help the team” when Kupp and Shaquille Hill were sidelined with cramps. His 47-yard TD catch from Adams also came in his first game since high school ball.
Redshirt sophomore lineman Clay DeBord talked of just trying to endure at the end despite warm temperatures on the field. “It took a whole team effort,” DeBord said after dunking his face in a vat of ice water.
Then there was redshirt freshman Jabari Wilson, getting the start at running back in the wake of injuries. All he did was carry the ball 13 times for 43 yards and giving the Eagles enough of a running threat to help the passing game thrive.
When Adams was sidelined twice sidelined with cramps, senior backup Anthony Vitto stepped in, delivering a key first-down pass to Bomber in the game-winning drive.
And while the defense struggled at times and conceded 527 yards in total offense, new stories were being told at all positions.
Cornerback Albert Baines, playing opposite All-American T.J. Lee III, was a frequent target while covering Brandi Cooks, but finished with six tackles.
True freshman linebacker Albert Havili made four tackles, including an open-field stop after a pass reception by OSU's Kevin Cummings on third down. The Beavers were forced to punt, setting up another Eastern scoring drive late in the first half.
“They all stepped up today,” Eastern linebackers coach Josh Fetter said.