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Eastern Washington kicker Roldan Alcobendas finds his sacrifices have paid off

EasternWashington’s Roldan Alcobendas converted his 67th consecutive PAT against Fordham. (Jon Lambert / Courtesy)
EasternWashington’s Roldan Alcobendas converted his 67th consecutive PAT against Fordham. (Jon Lambert / Courtesy)

It looks so easy from the stands and more so from the easy chair. No wonder the extra-point kick has been labeled the most boring play in sports.

However, it was anything but boring last weekend in New York, where Eastern Washington kicker Roldan Alcobendas made a little history by hitting his 67th consecutive extra point.

The moment came early in the Eagles’ 56-21 win over Fordham and broke a 27-year-old school record. Far from getting lost in the moment, Alcobendas didn’t realize that it had happened.

“I didn’t really know about it until after the game,” said Alcobendas, who would hit five more by game’s end.

That’s when his cell phone buzzed with congratulatory messages from former teammates and coaches from all over the country.

Then it sank in. “The whole moment was pretty exciting and gratifying,” said Alcobendas, a senior from Camas, Washington, who appreciates success more than most athletes.

Four years ago, Alcobendas had just signed a letter of intent with the Eagles when he suffered an ACL injury while playing high school soccer.

“That was pretty rough, because I felt like all my hard work had vanished,” said Alcobendas, who redshirted with the Eagles that fall.

Hundreds of hours of rehabilitation were rewarded in the fall of 2014, when Alcobendas won the starting place-kicking position.

Then, three games into the season, he injured the same knee on the second-half kickoff at Montana State.

“At Montana State, that was even tougher than the first (injury) … that really brought me down and stripped away everything and I had to start all over again,” Alcobendas said.

The journey was eased by Brian Norton, the Eagles’ head athletic trainer and his staff. “They were there for me since day one, two or three times a day,” Alcobendas said. “I don’t know where I would be without them.”

Finally, Alcobendas found himself back on the football field in the fall of 2016. He won back his starting job in fall camp, but redemption didn’t come until midseason on the same field where disaster had struck two years earlier.

The bus ride to Bozeman last Oct. 21 was “nerve-wracking,” Alcobendas admits now. “But I tried not to let it affect me too much.”

Instead, Alcobendas had the best game of his career. He made field goals of 48 and 31 yards, and put himself in harm’s way on one kickoff by tackling the MSU return man and possibly saving a touchdown.

The Eagles went on to win 41-17 and Alcobendas won his first Big Sky Conference Special Teams Player of the Week award.

By season’s end, Alcobendas’ extra point streak reached 63, setting the stage for last week’s big moment in the Big Apple.

Going into the Fordham game, Alcobendas was at 65, just one away from the school record of 66 set by Jason Cromer from 1988-90.

“I knew it was in my reach, and people were talking about it all week,” Alcobendas said. “But coach (Aaron) Best tells is to ignore all that noise.”

Alcobendas acknowledges the layman’s blasé attitude toward extra points, but points out that it’s a complicated exercise, demanding precision from the snapper, holder and kicker – plus a lot of brute force from the linemen.

“It takes all 11, and I know I couldn’t come close to that record without all of them,” Alcobendas said.

For now, Alcobendas will try to add to that record. When the season is over, he expects to apply for a sixth year of eligibility.

“Talking with the coaches, they say it’s pretty much guaranteed,” Alconbendas said.

Just like all those extra points.

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