Eastern Washington University’s Bo Levi Mitchell didn’t transfer from Southern Methodist just to play 11 regular-season games and sack up the footballs.
“This is exactly why I came here,” the 6-foot-2, 210-pound junior said on Saturday after leading the No. 1-ranked Eagles (11-2) to a riveting 38-31 Roos Field overtime win over North Dakota State in the quarterfinals of the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs.
“I love the playoffs, especially when you get a chance to play the defending national champions in your own house.”
Which is exactly what Eastern will do on Friday, when it entertains last year’s FCS champion, Villanova (9-4), in a semifinal playoff showdown that kicks off at 5 p.m.
What Mitchell didn’t know at the time he made his comments, however, was that his sensational junior running back Taiwan Jones, who rushed for 230 yards and a touchdown in the Eagles’ win over the Bison, will not be available against the Wildcats.
Jones, who limped off the field early in the fourth quarter of Saturday’s with an apparent leg injury, had X-rays taken Sunday, and it was determined – EWU’s head athletic trainer Brian Norton said – that he had fractured the fifth metatarsal in his left foot.
Jones, Norton added, will consult with an orthopedic specialist today to determine whether surgery in necessary. And there could be a slight chance, should the surgery be performed, that the 6-foot-1, 200-pounder could return for in time for the FCS championship game in Frisco, Texas, on Jan. 7 – provided the Eagles can get past Villanova on Friday.
“I’m disappointed for Taiwan,” EWU’s third-year coach Beau Baldwin said in a story posted on the Eagles’ football website. “He’s worked so hard, and without Taiwan we wouldn’t be in this position. It’s always disappointing when one of your players in not able to go – especially one so instrumental to our success this season.”
With Jones on the shelf, the majority of Eastern’s ball-carrying duties will probably fall on true freshman Mario Brown and junior Darriell Beaumonte. Brown has rushed for 214 yards and a one touchdown this fall, while Beaumonte has rushed for 216 yards and two TDs.
“Our other players have to step up,” Baldwin said. “This is a challenge that our player need to attack and go after. But it’s going to be disappointing to not see that young man (Jones) play of Friday.”