GRAND FORKS, N.D. – Eric Barriere wasn’t expected to win this game by himself.
He didn’t need to.
In all three phases of the game, Eastern Washington gave its new quarterback all the help he needed to take a crucial 21-14 Big Sky Conference win at North Dakota.
However, the redshirt freshman also rose to the occasion after being pressed into the starting role following the one-game suspension of All-American Gage Gubrud.
On the road and in a dome, Barriere had a solid game. He completed 13 of 23 passes for 130 yards and gained 55 on the ground.
He also did a good job of managing the game, making good decisions while not turning the ball over. Relying on his running backs and his own speed, Barriere helped the Eagles run for a season-high 244 yards.
Admitting to some “freshman jitters” in a three-and-out opening drive, Barriere said the game slowed down for him the rest of the afternoon in the Alerus Center.
After falling behind 7-0, Barriere led three touchdown drives while earning his first collegiate touchdown pass and scoring run.
He also showed poise in a crucial moment. On fourth-and-goal from the 1 with two seconds left in the half, the Eagles called timeout and called Barriere’s number.
“It was an option to the field side, but I saw the ends were sliding,” Barriere said. “So I cut it back, and it was a touchdown – just like that.”
That gave the Eagles a 21-7 lead and turned out to be the game-winner.
Eastern’s offense lost momentum when it lost running back Sam McPherson, mustering only 89 yards in the second half, but Barriere resisted the urge to force the issue.
Coach Aaron Best was impressed.
“He was a grinder today,” Best said. “It didn’t all work out perfect, but he’s electric when the ball is in his hands.”
“I’m proud of him,” Best said. “He has a huge smile, and it’s just as big today as it was on Tuesday.”