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Gubrud, league-leading Eastern Washington offense snubbed in All-Big Sky balloting

UPDATED: Tue., Nov. 21, 2017, 1:37 p.m.

Eastern Washington Eagles punter Jordan Dascalo (45), shown on Senior Day, is the Eagles’ lone first-team All-Big Sky Conference selection. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)
Eastern Washington Eagles punter Jordan Dascalo (45), shown on Senior Day, is the Eagles’ lone first-team All-Big Sky Conference selection. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

The hits keep coming for Eastern Washington football.

This one doesn’t compared to being left on the sidelines for the postseason, but the Eagles didn’t land a single player on the first-team All-Big Sky Conference offensive or defensive teams announced Tuesday.

Eastern’s only first-team selection was punter Jordan Dascalo, who also won a national special teams award last week.

“I knew this was my last chance to put it all together,” said Dascalo, a senior who hopes to play professionally next year.

“This year I learned that I didn’t have to swing for the moon for a good punt, that I just needed to rely on my leg strength,” Dascalo said.

In eight Big Sky games, Dascalo averaged 42.6 yards per punt, with nine kicks going 50 yards or farther.

For Dascalo, the biggest number was 42 – the total punt return yardage by Eastern’s eight conference opponents. For that, Dascalo credited special teams coach Heath Pulver, his long snapper Curtis Billen, and the blockers and gunners.

However, no Eagles were named to the first-team offense even though the Eagles had a league-leading 511 yards in eight Big Sky games.

Despite better statistics, Eastern quarterback Gage Gubrud – a Payton Award finalist and All-American last year – dropped to second team this year in favor of Case Cookus of Northern Arizona.

In seven Big Sky games, Gubrud led the conference in total offensive yards per game (391.6), passing yards (371.7) and ranked third in passing efficiency at 150.5.

Cookus was fifth in total offense (292.9), passing yards (291) and his pass efficiency rating of 137.3 ranked seventh in the Big Sky.

In conference play, Gubrud ran for 236 yards while Cookus had minus-18.

For the season, Gubrud was 261-for-422 (61.8 percent) for 3,342 yards, 26 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Cookus was 255 for 433 (58.4 percent), with 21 touchdowns and five picks.

Eastern placed four other players on the second team, including wide receiver Nic Sblendorio, center Spencer Blackburn, running back Antoine Custer Jr. and defensive end Albert Havili.

Sblendorio, a two-time Big Sky weekly winner, finished with a team-high 912 yards on 72 catches. The senior from Sammamish, Washington, also had five touchdown catches.

Custer, a true sophomore from Berkeley, California, led an improved Eastern ground game with 776 yards and 10 touchdowns on 157 carries. Custer also had 276 receiving yards, fourth-best on the team.

Third-team selections were wide receiver Nsimba Webster, safety Mitch Fettig and special teamer Anfernee Gurley; and honorable mention picks were offensive lineman Tristen Taylor, running back Sam McPherson and cornerback Josh Lewis.

UC Davis wide receiver Keelan Doss was the Offensive Player of the Year and Weber State cornerback Taron Johnson was the Defensive Player of the Year.

The conference will announce its coach of the year on Wednesday.


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