In Second Career Start, Barriere Guides No. 5/4 Eagles Past SUU 55-17
CHENEY, Wash. — Even without their All-America signal caller, the Eagles didn’t miss a beat.
Junior Eric Barriere was an injury replacement for injured starting quarterback Gage Gubrud , and he used his arm and feet to lead the Eastern Washington University football team to a 55-17 victory over defending Big Sky Conference champion Southern Utah Saturday (Oct. 6) at Roos Field in Cheney, Wash.
Barriere made his second career start, and he completed a 48-yard pass on the first offensive play of the day for the Eagles, then later had an 85-yard rush for a touchdown – a school record for a quarterback — to give the Eagles a 31-10 lead in the second quarter.
He accounted for three of EWU’s seven touchdowns, rushing for 98 yards and two scores and passing for 233 and a TD.
“From start to finish I was a proud coach of Eric Barriere ,” said Eastern head coach Aaron Best . “He’s one individual that no matter how much I yell or how much I hug him, he looks the same no matter what. He has the same unflappable personality, which is a great trait to have as a quarterback. There are going to highs and there are going to be lows, but he had a great day today at the office.”
In the first of two-straight Big Sky Conference games versus opponents EWU lost to last season, Gubrud didn’t play because of a lower leg injury suffered last week in a victory at Montana State. It was supposed to be a milestone day for the Eagle senior, who is just 16 passing yards from reaching the 10,000-yard plateau in his illustrious career.
Instead, Gubrud watched as the Eagles had its 10th-most yards in school history with 648 and equaled the 23rd-most points all-time. Eastern had 380 yards rushing and 268 passing, and averaged 9.4 yards per play compared to just 4.4 for the Thunderbirds.
Defensively, Eastern had seven passes broken up, an interception and a sack, and won the turnover battle 2-1. Eastern is now 44-0 since 2010 when it wins the turnover battle.
Eastern jumped out to a 14-0 lead with a pair of long scoring drives that took just eight plays to complete, but unlike a year ago, EWU poured it on from there. The Eagles scored 20 points in the second quarter and 21 in the third quarter – 31 unanswered in all — for its fifth lopsided victory of the season. Last year, EWU jumped out to a 14-0 lead before the Thunderbirds held Eastern scoreless for a 35-minute stretch and won 46-28 in Cedar City.
“It’s never going to be perfect – we still had some red zone mishaps,”‘ said Best. “We have things to work on, but we scored 55 points at home and for the third-straight game the defense has only allowed 17 points. I’m very proud of our team – it was a very gritty effort.”
Eastern was in a tie for fourth with South Dakota State in the American Football Coaches Association Top 25 poll this week and was fifth in the STATS poll of sportswriters, broadcasters and sports information directors. Weber State, EWU’s next opponent, was ranked right behind EWU in sixth by STATS and seventh by the AFCA, with Montana (14/15) and UC Davis (16/21) also ranked in the top 25. The Eagles don’t face Montana but host UC Davis on Nov. 10.
Records & Rankings . . .
* Now 5-1 overall and 3-0 in the Big Sky in 2018, Eastern closed the 2017 season with a 7-4 record overall and was 6-2 in the Big Sky Conference in the first season under head coach Aaron Best . Last season was the 11th-straight season the Eagles have finished 5-3 or better in the Big Sky, with an 11th-straight winning season and 20th in the last 22 years. But winning a 10th Big Sky title and making a 13th appearance in the FCS Playoffs is the quest for the 2018 Eagles, who are hungry to make that happen.
* Southern Utah had a bye last week, and is still looking for its first victory after losing three nonconference games and its first two league games. The Thunderbirds fell to North Alabama (34-30), Oregon State (48-25) and Arizona (62-31) to open the year, then began Big Sky play with a loss at Northern Arizona (31-23). The EWU game was SUU’s fourth-straight road game after playing North Alabama at home.
What It Means . . .
* In what some circles are calling the “EWU revenge tour,” the Eagles took on one of the two FCS teams they lost to in the 2017 season. Eastern had a five-game winning streak overall and a 12-game Big Sky Conference victory streak going a year ago when it lost to the Thunderbirds 46-28 on the road. The following week, the Eagles fell at home to Weber State 28-20. Although EWU finished 7-4 overall and 6-2 in the Big Sky, the Eagles were passed over for the postseason while SUU, WSU and Northern Arizona all advanced to the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision Playoffs.