It was a Sblendid Senior Day indeed.
In perhaps his final home game, senior wide receiver Nic Sblendorio rose to the occasion Saturday night to help Eastern Washington beat Portland State.
He did it in spectacular fashion, with an off-the-helmet catch for a 60-yard score, two long third-quarter catches to set up touchdowns, and finally one incredible catch-and-run.
With the Eagles already leading 52-26 late in the third quarter and facing third down and 6, Sblendorio took a short pass from quarterback Gage Gubrud and weaved his way to a 74-yard touchdown.
Sblendorio must have covered 120 yards during the run, which ended with a dive into the end zone that put the game utterly out of reach.
“I was tired,” Sblendorio said. “But it only happened because of Terence Grady and Antoine Custer and the other guys blocking downfield.”
By the end of the night, Sblendorio had nine catches for a career-high 273 yards, the third-best single-game mark in school history.
The only better marks are held by Eastern legend Cooper Kupp, who had 275 at Northern Colorado in 2015 and 274 yards last year at home against UC Davis.
However, Kupp never scored a 60-yard touchdown after the ball bounced off an opponent’s helmet.
In a play that’s sure to make the ESPN highlights, quarterback Gage Gubrud threw downfield into double coverage. It was a low-trajectory pass that struck the helmet of PSU linebacker Taylor Biaggi.
“I saw it at the last second,” said Sblendorio, who snatched the ball just as a safety closed in.
With both defenders on the ground, Sblendorio loped the rest of the way for a touchdown that put Eastern ahead 24-14.
Subscribe to The Spokesman-Review's sports newsletter
Get the day's top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.