The Big Sky Conference saw another competitive week of action as each contest was decided by one possession. Idaho State took Weber State to the brink of losing the outright conference title. Eastern Washington edged out a gutsy win against an even more gritty Idaho team that was playing with a “5th string quarterback” according to SWX commentators. Northern Arizona pulled off a first-ever two-peat win of the Grand Canyon Rivalry trophy in the same year against rival Southern Utah. From this weekend’s results, we know that Weber State will automatically represent the Big Sky and that EWU has a good chance to be an at-large playoff representative for the Big Sky.
Weber State def. Idaho State 20-15
Weber State allowed Idaho State to give them another week of stressful endings. The “Cardiac Cats” found a way to edge out the Bengals in a desperate effort to finally win the Big Sky Conference title outright for the first time in school history. These two teams usually can produce high octane passing offenses, but the quarterbacks were cold and the defenses were hot. Field position played an important role in the fact that both teams had to travel down the majority of the field to earn their points. Other than Idaho State’s first field goal there were no gifts for either team. The pivotal elements of the Wildcats’ win were the ability to limit Tyler Vander-Waal’s passing attack, persevere in scoring, and seal the game with a last-minute interception.
Weber State Player of the Game: Dontae McMillan, RB – 21 rushes, 90 yards, 1 touchdown
Idaho State Player of the Game: Tyler Vander-Waal, QB – 19/41 for 268 yards, 1 touchdown, 1 interception, 5 rushes for 43 yards
Eastern Washington def. Idaho 38-31
If there was an award for player who stepped up the most for his team then Zach Borisch would win unanimously. Borisch has played defensive back, safety, running back, and now starting quarterback. Borisch’s Taysom Hill-like performance put the unlikely quarterback in a position to get a win against a top ten caliber team. Eastern Washington showed a lack of defense towards a rush heavy team that had little choice in the matter, but when the Vandals did pass the Eagles were waiting to strike. If it were not for Borisch’s two interceptions and Merritt’s career day with three rushing touchdowns it might have been a repeat win for Idaho.
EWU Player of the Game: Dennis Merritt, RB – 9 rushes for 64 yards and 3 touchdowns
Idaho Player of the Game: Zach Borisch, QB/RB/S – 5/11 for 74 yards 1 touchdown, 2 interception, 33 rushes for 205 yards and 2 touchdowns
Northern Arizona def. Southern Utah 28-20
Northern Arizona made history in their Grand Canyon Rivalry with Southern Utah. For the first time in the rivalry’s history a team won the trophy twice in the same year. The Lumberjacks will actually have a chance in fall to make it a “triple crown” type win as the two teams have never matched up more than once, much less more than twice in a season. The Thunderbirds would fly out to a 14-0 lead in the second quarter after a completely quiet first quarter. Despite SUU’s quick start, the Lumberjacks would go on a 28 point run from the last seven seconds of the second quarter until early in the fourth quarter. Justin Miller would get his second touchdown pass with 2:28 left in the game, but the Thunderbirds would get no closer than that.
NAU Player of the Game: Keondre Wudtee, QB – 23/34 for 289 and 1 touchdown
7 rushes for 38 yards and 2 touchdowns
SUU Player of the Game: Landen Measom, WR – 8 catches for 112 yards and 2 touchdowns
My name is Ben Schleiger and I’m your representative for the Big Sky Conference. I have done work for multiple newspapers and sports blogs including The Johnstown Breeze, The University of Northern Colorado Mirror, and Mile High Maniac. I am a proud alumnus of the University of Northern Colorado with a degree in Psychology and a minor in Political Science. In my free time, I like watching sports, playing video games, and trying new foods.