Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883


Eastern dominates Idaho in opener

This wasn't close, and it could have been worse. Eastern Washington was that good. Idaho was that bad. Our game story is below.


Before we get to our story, a few words on Dominique Blackman's absence for Idaho. When asked for a reason why he didn't play, Robb Akey said, "That’s between he and I and it will stay between and I." Akey said the Vandals knew "for forever" that Blackman wouldn't start (though he was listed as the No. 1 QB and suited up before the game). His replacement, Logan Bushnell, said he found out about 10 days ago that he would start. Bushnell went 10 of 24 for 123 yards, but he didn't get much help from a receiving crew that dropped several catchable passes. Backup Taylor Davis might have relieved Bushnell sooner, but Akey said he was sick throughout the day. Davis still came in for the last few minutes and went 6 of 8.

Here's my story ...

By Josh Wright

MOSCOW, Idaho – It was the story of two high-profile transfer quarterbacks -- Eastern Washington’s played and Idaho’s didn’t – but it was so much more than that.

The Eagles’ linebackers were swarming. Their secondary was in complete control. Their three talented receivers reeled in clutch catches all over the field.

In short, Eastern played like the higher-division team Thursday night in a 20-3 romp of the Vandals in front of 11,136 at the Kibbie Dome.

“There’s no point in playing if you think you’re going to lose,” said Kyle Padron, who made his debut at quarterback for the Eagles and helped a large red-clad contingent of fans celebrate afterward.

Padron was shaky at times, yet masterful when it mattered. The SMU transfer completed just 13 of 33 pass attempts, but he directed two Eastern touchdown drives and piled up 260 yards against an Idaho secondary that often looked confused.
“He did a great job, took some hits and stayed so calm,” Eagles coach Beau Baldwin said. “Whenever your quarterback can lead you to a win on the road against a FBS school, that’s something good. It’s the first time we’ve won one of these in a long time.”        

The Eagles came away with their first victory over a Football Bowl Division team since 2003. That win was also against Idaho at the Kibbie Dome, an 8-5 decision, and the Vandals were equally inept offensively this time.

Idaho transfer QB Dominique Blackman did not play for an undisclosed off-the-field reason. Former walk-on Logan Bushnell knew for more than a week that he would start in Blackman’s place, but the Vandals’ offense still sputtered throughout – much like last season.

Coach Robb Akey said Blackman would resume his role as starter next week at Bowling Green.

“This is not one kid’s fault,” Akey said. “Not by any stretch. Don’t anybody dare try to blame this on Logan Bushnell. … We didn’t play well enough.”

Up 13-3, Eastern crafted an 11-play, 65-yard TD drive between the third and fourth quarters that put the game well in hand. EWU converted on third-and-long twice in the drive, both the result of heady Padron passes.

Padron used his feet and quick release to avoid at least four sacks. The main beneficiary was Brandon Kaufman, who paced the Eagles with five catches for 148 yards.

Nicholas Edwards caught only two balls, but one was a 33-yarder that set up Eastern’s first touchdown.

“The QB was playing real smart, as far as I saw,” Idaho linebacker Homer Mauga said of Padron. “… His main point was trying to get the ball out as soon as possible.”

The Eagles outgained Idaho 412-237, while the Vandals converted only 2 of 15 third-down attempts. Almost half of UI’s yards in the first half came on one play – a 66-yard connection from Bushnell to Najee Lovett.

Lovett, left alone on the right sideline, hauled in the high-arcing pass and cut back toward the middle for UI’s longest – and most exciting -- play of the night.  The catch-and-run resulted in Idaho’s only score, a 27-yard field goal from Trey Farquhar.

“We just didn’t get it started going soon enough,” Bushnell said. “It wasn’t good offensive production from us.”

SportsLink is your portal into sports news around the Inland Northwest and beyond. You'll find updates, notes and opinions, and plenty of reader feedback.

Looking for a Grip on Sports?

Vince Grippi's daily take on all things regional sports has been moved to our main sports section online. You can find a collection of these columns here.