Redshirt freshman quarterback Vernon Adams certainly has a flair for dramatics, and as a result, was selected Monday as The Sports Network co-Freshman of the Week in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision, as well as the Root Sports Offensive Player of the Week awarded by the Big Sky Conference.
Despite an interception and a fumble in the fourth quarter, Adams had two touchdown passes in the final 2:19 as the No. 7 Eagles rallied for a 32-26 victory over 21st-ranked Montana Grizzlies Sept. 29 at Roos Field in Cheney, Wash.
Adams completed 25-of-41 passes for 353 yards and three touchdowns in his second career start for EWU, and also added a team-leading 54 yards rushing. He accounted for 407 of EWU’s 447 yards of total offense. In the final quarter alone, Adams was 13-of-21 for 171 yards and a pair of scores. Adams is 24th in FCS in passing efficiency (143.1), completing 60.4 percent of his passes for 428 yards, three touchdowns and one interception in three games -- the last two as EWU's starter.
Besides Adams, wide receiver Brandon Kaufman received College Sports Madness Big Sky Offensive Player of the Week accolades and honorable mention Performer of the Week accolades in FCS by College Football Performance Awards. He had eight catches for 138 yards and two TDs against Montana, marking the fourth time in four games this season – and 12th time of his career – he has eclipsed the 100-yard mark. The 2010 All-American leads the Big Sky and ranks second in FCS in receiving yards per game (138.5), and is 27th in FCS in catches per game (6.0).
Punter Jake Miller averaged 46.0 yards on four punts with a long of 53 versus Montana to earn honorable mention Performer of the Week accolades in FCS by College Football Performance Awards. He is ranked ninth this week in FCS in punting (44.05 average).
And in the FCS rankings released Monday morning, the Eagles remain ranked seventh in both The Sports Network Top 25 rankings and the FCS Coaches poll. Montana fell out of the rankings for the first time since 1998.
Versus Montana, Eastern put together an 82-yard scoring drive to pull within two points with 2:19 remaining on a 30-yard touchdown pass from Adams to Kaufman. After EWU successfully recovered an onside kick, Eastern scored again on a 20-yard TD pass from Adams to Ashton Clark with 53 seconds to play. Eastern scored the first time it had the ball on an eight-play, 75-yard scoring drive, then led 14-7 in the second quarter on Kaufman’s 36-yard TD reception from Adams.
“Our team is resilient," said Eastern head coach Beau Baldwin. "Sometimes you lose quarters, sometimes you lose a quarter and a half, but you just have to know that until the clock strikes zero, you keep fighting. Our guys did that against Montana and made some plays. I am proud of them and truly happy for our team.”
Eastern’s comeback magic – dating back to 2010 -- is alive and well after the win over the Grizzlies. In the last three seasons (2010-12), the Eagles have had nine victories when they’ve trailed or been tied in the final stanza.