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EWU-Idaho notebook: Vandals retain Che-Scow Trophy in front of largest crowd at Roos Field since 2019

Idaho Vandals running back Anthony Woods (5) and Idaho Vandals quarterback Gevani McCoy (4) celebrate a touchdown against the Eastern Washington Eagles in the second half at Roos Field on Sat. Sept. 30, 2023 in Cheney WA. Idaho won by a final of 44-36.  (James Snook/FOR THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)
By Dan Thompson For The Spokesman-Review

The “Che-Scow” Trophy did not make a public appearance after Idaho’s 44-36 win over Eastern Washington on Saturday, but it did make the trip from Moscow to Cheney for the occasion, Idaho coach Jason Eck confirmed.

“I told the team we needed to win it because I don’t know that anyone else wanted it,” Eck said, referring to its condition rather than the Eagles’ competitiveness. “… So I’m glad we kept it. We’ve got to get a fresh piece of athletic tape to put the score on it for the ride home.”

After the Vandals beat the Eagles last year in Moscow, Eck brought the trophy – with the score 48-16 written on a piece of athletic tape attached to it – to the postgame news conference. But this time, he chose to keep it in the locker room.

The rivalry, which is still more or less officially known as “The Governor’s Cup,” saw a road team win for the first time since the Vandals returned to the Big Sky at the start of the 2018 season. Idaho leads the all-time series, which dates to 1942, 19-9.

Idaho is one of two teams Eastern Washington is scheduled to play every year, according to the Big Sky’s current rotation. The other is Montana State. Idaho’s other yearly opponent is Idaho State.

The announced crowd of 8,347 was the largest at Roos Field since Nov. 23, 2019, when 8,629 attended Eastern’s 53-46 win over Portland State.

One turnover isn’t enough for EWU

For the second game in a row, the Eagles did not commit a turnover. On the season, they have committed just four.

But unlike last week, when their defense forced three in a 27-24 win over UC Davis, those turnovers did not come in heaps against Idaho. The Eagles got one, an interception by junior Cage Schenck. It was the first of his career.

While the Eagles did not commit any turnovers, field position played a crucial role in Idaho’s victory. In the third quarter, Idaho started drives at the EWU 7-yard line (kickoff return), the EWU 34-yard line (turnover on downs) and on its own 46 (punt). The Vandals turned those into 16 points, part of a run of 23 unanswered points in the second half.

Secondary adjusts without Williams

Playing without redshirt sophomore safety Kentrell Williams Jr., who was injured last week at UC Davis, the Eagles started redshirt freshman Drew Carter and redshirt sophomore Armani Orange at the safety spots.

Orange was one of four Eagles with a team-high seven tackles; Carter had four. It was Orange’s fifth start of the year and Carter’s second, although he has played significant minutes throughout the season. They were spelled by redshirt sophomore Zane Thornton, who finished with three tackles.

EWU’s Alphonse Oywak, another redshirt sophomore, made his third start at cornerback and finished with six tackles opposite senior Marlon Jones Jr., who broke up one pass.

Eagles senior captain Darrien Sampson dressed but did not play. The cornerback has played in 38 games in his EWU career, including 27 starts, but he hasn’t played this year after recovering from a knee injury he suffered last season.

For the first time this season the Eagles did not record a sack. They also had a season-low three tackles for loss. Idaho had one sack, the seventh allowed by the Eagles this season.