SEATTLE – Eastern Washington quarterback Vernon Adams always shines brightest in the limelight.
And what better opportunity than a sun-drenched day at Husky Stadium, in front of a national television audience and the biggest crowd he’s ever entertained?
But after throwing for 475 yards and a school-record seven touchdowns, Adams had every opportunity to soak it all in. No chance.
Moments after a 59-52 loss at Washington, Adams was dwelling on the what-ifs, the six sacks, the nerve-jangling third- and fourth-down tests that if they’d failed, would have vanquished the Eagles well before the fourth quarter.
“I have to do a better job of putting our guys in the best spots to make plays, and I can’t get sacked like that,” Adams said, eyes downcast in a subdued Eagles locker room.
Then again, self-criticism has helped Adams get this far.
Said wide receiver Cooper Kupp: “He continues to work, and he has such a passion for this game. He always wants to win … and we have taken on that attitude as a team.”
Trailing 14-0 before he got his hands on the ball in front of the 62,861 at Husky Stadium, Adams was sacked on the Eagles’ first possession, which ended with a punt. But the next four Eastern possessions ended in touchdowns, enough to get the Eagles back in the game against a big, speedy UW defense.
The Huskies are 2-0, but color them impressed.
“He was better than I thought,” UW linebacker Shaq Thompson said. “He can throw on the run, scramble and he can run.”
Despite the six sacks, Adams finished with 17 carries for 43 yards, stretching the Husky defense and giving his receivers time to get open. He also did the dirty work that didn’t stand out while he was surrounded by blitzing linebackers.
“He is special, and for more than being a big-play guy, a busted-play guy,” coach Beau Baldwin said. “He’s tough because he stands in the pocket, and doesn’t just roll out.”
And he also did it while suffering cramps in the third quarter, just as he did a year ago before rallying to lead a 49-46 win at Oregon State.
“That’s all it was, cramps – I got better,” said Adams, who also took oxygen while the Huskies were driving for a 44-38 lead late in the third quarter.
Back on the field, Adams took the Eagles on a 12-play, 75-yard drive capped by a 22-yard scoring pass to Cory Mitchell to give the Eagles a 45-44 lead.
Adams is now 22-5 as a starter, with 91 touchdowns to rank fourth all-time in the Big Sky Conference. The school record is held by Matt Nichols, who accounted for 96 TDs from 2006-09.
“I don’t really care about the stats,” Adams said. “We lost so it doesn’t really matter to me.”
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