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Difference maker: Keenan Williams’ fumble recovery saves Eastern Washington’s day

UPDATED: Sat., Oct. 14, 2017

Eastern Washington defensive lineman Keenan Williams (90) recovers the ball after Montana State quarterback Chris Murray (8) fumbles. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)
Eastern Washington defensive lineman Keenan Williams (90) recovers the ball after Montana State quarterback Chris Murray (8) fumbles. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)

It was a “gift,” Keenan Williams admitted, that fourth-quarter fumble by Montana State quarterback Chris Murray that handed the momentum back to Eastern Washington.

“I was just there for the ball,” said Williams, a junior defensive end who made the biggest play in a game that went down to the wire.

With a 17-point lead whittled down to five, Eastern kick returner Dre’Sonte Dorton had just fumbled the ensuing kickoff at the EWU 25-yard-line with 9 minutes, 24 seconds to play.

Now holding the ball and all the momentum in the world, MSU had a chance to take the lead. On second down at the 19, MSU quarterback Chris Murray appeared to hesitate in the middle of an option play.

“He was in between keeping it and handing off and he lost the handle on it,” said Williams, who pounced on the mistake, then went to the sideline to cheer a game-clinching drive by the Eastern offense.

“I love being here – I love being here on the red,” said Williams, a Cheney native who grew up rooting for the Eagles.

After choosing Eastern over several FBS schools, he graduated early from Cheney High School and was practicing with the Eagles as a 17-year-old in the spring of 2015.

“Playing with my brothers, there’s nothing else like it,” said Williams, who finished with nine tackles.

Most of those tackles came against the MSU run game, which was a bit frustrating.

For most defensive ends, the fun usually comes on passing downs. Murray and the run-oriented Bobcats are a different animal. Most of the third downs ended in runs, not passes.

“As a defensive end, you have to play more disciplined going against a great athlete like that,” Williams said. “We talked about keeping him in a ‘well,” of keeping him in the pocket.

“It’s frustrating sometimes, though I think we got him stopped at the end of the day.”

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