SEATTLE – In a game that offered Eastern Washington little margin for error, the Eagles committed just enough mistakes Saturday to make an upset over Washington that much tougher.
Eastern eventually recovered from a fumbled kickoff return that gave Washington an early 14-0 lead, but a late turnover by true freshman wide receiver Terence Grady almost put the game out of reach.
After Washington took a 52-45 lead on the first play of the fourth quarter, Eastern was driving for a potential trying score when Adams hit Grady on the right sideline. But UW linebacker John Timu stripped the ball as Grady was falling down, and Travis Feeney recovered.
Thirteen plays later, the Huskies had driven 65 yards to score the eventual winning touchdown with 7:45 left.
“That was tough,” coach Beau Baldwin said, “but I went over the Terence and said, ‘You have a long career ahead of you, so keep your head up,’ because he was as hard on himself as anyone.”
And for the second straight meeting with Washington, the Eagles failed to force a turnover, while commiting five. “We’ve got to force a turnover or two,” Baldwin said.
Miles ahead of the curve
In his first game in almost nine months, Huskies quarterback Cyler Miles didn’t show a bit of rust; in fact, he sparkled in a fashion that wasn’t reflected in his passing stats: 14 for 24, 180 yards and a touchdown, a short sideline pass that John Ross took 55 yards for a score.
“I think he did some good things,” said Huskies coach Chris Petersen, who started Miles after fill-in starter Jeff Lindquist struggled in a 17-16 win in the opener at Hawaii. “He is learning, and will continue to get better.”
Mostly, Miles made good decisions, keeping the Eastern defense off-balance all afternoon while rushing 12 times for 59 yards and three touchdowns.
“He’s pretty athletic,” Eastern safety Tevin McDonald said. “With the quarterback they had last week, he might have just thrown the ball away, but he made some good decisions.”
Flags were flying
It didn’t cost them the game, but a flurry of penalties may have kept the Huskies from wrapping up the game a bit sooner.
With the Eagles trailing 44-38 late in the third quarter and facing third-and-9 from their own 36, Vernon Adams was sacked, but UW’s Feeney was whistled for unsportsmanlike conduct for a post-play head-butt on Eastern receiver Cory Mitchell.
Eight plays later, Adams hit Mitchell on a fourth-down, 22-yard touchdown pass to give the Eagles a 45-44 lead.
In all, the Huskies were whistled for 10 penalties totaling 100 yards, while Eastern had six for 51 yards. Early in the game, leading 21-7, the Huskies faced third-and-11 from their own 20. Miles ran toward the right sideline, crossed the sideline at least a yard short of the first-down marker, but EWU linebacker Ronnie Hamlin was whistled for a late hit.
The Husky drive eventually stalled, but UW addded a field goal to stretch the lead to 24-7.
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