Eastern Washington Eagles Advance To National Championship Game
The fourth time is a charm.
The #3 seed and 2018 Big Sky Conference football champion Eastern Washington Eagles (12-2) are no strangers to playing in the semifinals, however, since winning their first - and only - FCS National Championship in 2010, they have come up short on the red turf at Roos Field in Cheney each of the last three seasons. Today they knocked the barn door down with a 50-19 thrashing of the seventh-seeded Colonial Athletic Association champion Maine Black Bears (10-4) out of Bangor, ME to return to the finals in a game televised nationally on ESPN2.
The Eagles were lead by back-up quarterback Eric Barriere who threw 7 touchdown passes - 4 of which went to wide receiver Nsimba Webster. EWU rolled up over 550 yards of total offense against a normally stingy Maine defense. Barriere replaced starting QB Gage Gubrud on October 6 due to injury.
Eastern put a 50-burger on the Black Bears with 8:07 left in the contest on a 29-yard touchdown reception by Jayce Gilder - his second such grab of the day.
Head coach Aaron Best's squad will face the undefeated (14-0) North Dakota State Bison out of Fargo, ND in the FCS finals on January 5th in Frisco, Texas. The Bison topped South Dakota State yesterday 44-21 to make it to the championship round for the seventh time in the last eight years. NDSU has won six of the last seven titles and are considered the "Alabama of the FCS." The game will be televised nationally on ESPN2 at 9:00 a.m.
Yakima native Ketner Kupp, brother of EWU legend and current NFL star Cooper Kupp came in to the game with 28 tackles and one interception. Four generations of the Kupp family were on hand to watch. Cooper and Ketner's father Craig, grandfather Jake as well as Cooper's wife Anna and their newborn son.
When asked by ESPN2's sideline reporter Dawn Davenport if the Kupp clan was planning to attend the FCS championship game, the eldest Kupp answered, "We already have our hotel room."