Steve Bergum’s Keys to the Game
What went right
The Eagles remembered who they were, and what it was that got them here, refusing to fold under the pressure of a 19-point, third-quarter deficit. By picking up the pace of his team’s no-huddle offense, Eastern Washington quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell found some rhythm with his throws – and he found a couple of wide receivers in Bandon Kaufman and Nicholas Edwards, who made sure they tracked down those throws.
What went wrong
In the first half, just about everything. Delaware was gashing Eastern’s defensive with its short passing game and the running of Andrew Pierce, and the Eagles’ offense was abysmal, accounting for 62 total yards in the first two quarters. There are halftimes in championships game, too, however, which proved to be what the Eagles needed to make the necessary adjustments on both sides of the football to run down the Blue Hens.
When Delaware nickel back Jake Guisti left the game with a knee injury just moments after the Blue Hens had bumped their lead to 19-0 midway through the third quarter, it forced coach K.C. Keeler to adjust some of his coverage in the secondary. As a result, Anthony Walters, who had done a great job of covering Brandon Kaufman most of the game, was moved off Eastern’s talented sophomore receiver, who then made several great catches.
It seems almost cliché, but the best player on the field again this night was Eastern’s senior linebacker and Buck Buchanan Award winner, J.C. Sherritt. The two-time All-American was all over the field once again, making a game-high 18 tackles. And after the game, his head coach, Beau Baldwin, and several teammate said it was Sherritt’s leadership and discipline during tough times in the first half that helped keep everyone believing.