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Sports >  EWU football

EWU notebook: Redshirt freshman Jeff Carpenter catches touchdown in home state

Sept. 10, 2022 Updated Sat., Sept. 10, 2022 at 10:52 p.m.

Eastern Washington's Gabriel Johnson reacts to a play during a game at Oregon on Saturday in Eugene, Oregon.  (Courtesy EWU Athletics)
Eastern Washington's Gabriel Johnson reacts to a play during a game at Oregon on Saturday in Eugene, Oregon. (Courtesy EWU Athletics)
By Dan Thompson For The Spokesman-Review

EUGENE, Ore. – It wasn’t the outcome Jett Carpenter wanted for his team, but there was at least one highlight for the Eastern Washington redshirt freshman: He caught his first-career touchdown.

And though it came in a 70-14 loss, he got to catch it in his home state, about 170 miles from his hometown of Medford.

Carpenter’s touchdown came with 6:03 left in the second quarter on Saturday and capped the first drive where the Eagles – down 28-0 at the time – had been able to move the chains. One play earlier, wide-open receiver Freddie Roberson failed to catch a pass just a couple yards from the end zone, and a would-be touchdown throw from senior quarterback Gunner Talkington to Efton Chism III was called back earlier in the drive due to a penalty for an illegal man downfield.

Carpenter’s catch – his only one of the game – came on a third-and-goal play from the 7-yard line.

“I lined up and I saw that man over the top, and I had a little wheel route,” Carpenter said. “Our receiver came back across, and I saw the defenders run into each other. My eyes kind of lit up and I thought, ‘oh boy, I could get the ball right here.’ ”

“I’ve always made sure to keep my eye on the ball, to make sure to watch it all the way in and keep my feet in and so,” Carpenter said, “when I saw the ball released, I did everything I could to reel it in and get my first career touchdown here at Oregon.”

Carpenter had the football in his hands in the end zone last week, but it came on a two-point conversion. Carpenter was also originally, but erroneously, given a catch in the Tennessee State game last weekend. It was later correctly credited to Chism.

So, the play at Autzen was both Carpenter’s first collegiate touchdown and his first collegiate reception.

A different struggle for Eagles’ defense

A week after they were gashed for three first-half scoring plays of more than 40 yards, Eastern’s defense didn’t allow a play longer than 39 yards by the Ducks at Autzen.

But it did give up a whole lot of midrange plays as the Ducks sustained drives and held the ball for nearly 39 of the game’s 60 minutes. The Ducks also spread the ball to 14 different receivers and ran the ball with five different running backs, led in yardage by sophomore Mar’Keise Irving with 74.

In all, the Ducks averaged 8.3 yards per pass attempt and 5.5 per rush, achieving 40 first downs. Eastern’s offense had only 11.

“We did a lot of things from the (running game) perspective better than we did last week,” EWU coach Aaron Best said. “We got to the ball carrier, (but we) just allowed some really, really good ball players to get out of our grasp a few times to extend drives. We just couldn’t get off the field, and we obviously put the defense back on the field with a lot of (short drives).”

The Eagles’ defense also failed to record a sack and had just six tackles for loss. When Eastern beat UNLV in its season opener last year, it had five sacks and 12 tackles for loss.

Keshaun King, Ely Doyle and Marlon Jones Jr. – all players in the secondary – each had a team-high seven tackles Saturday. Mitchell Johnson had just one tackle after recording 11 against Tennessee State.

Chism return highlights special teams

Eastern’s biggest play of the game came on return when the sophomore Chism brought a second-quarter kickoff all the way from the end zone to the EWU 47-yard line.

Referees tacked on 15 more yards for a targeting call on Bryce Boettcher, and the Eagles took advantage by scoring their first touchdown of the game nine plays later on Carpenter’s reception. It was the longest return of Chism’s career at Eastern.

Junior Nick Kokich punted seven times, the second-most of his career. But his average Saturday of 45.7 yards per punt was better than all but one game last season, and his average through two games (and 13 punts) this season is 46.0, almost six yards better per kick than his mark a year ago (40.2).

Sophomore Jackson Cleaver handled – and made – both Eagles’ extra point attempts after entering last week for an injured Seth Harrison. Cleaver is now 5-for-5 on PATs this season and has yet to attempt a field goal.

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