CHENEY, Wash. – At the close of the first half, Nicholls, up 14-3, had just advanced the ball 68 yards on 11 plays behind the offensive direction of QB Chase Fourcade, and PK Lorran Fonseca was lining up for a field gol try to put the Colonels up two scores.
But Eastern Washington rover Kedrick Johnson eventually would scoop up returned a blocked field goal by nose tackle Dylan Ledbetter for a touchdown to instead have the Eagles enter the halftime locker room only down 14-10.
That play would start a barrage of 39 unanswered points by the Eagles that would ultimately lead to Eastern Washington prevailing over Nicholls 42-21 in the second round of the FCS Playoffs.
“It’s incredible,” said Eastern Washington head coach Aaron Best. “We have a lot of grit and resilience – that’s who we are at Eastern. You can hang around about 40 seconds and you’ll understand. I’m proud of this team and it’s awesome to come back from a 14-3 deficit and end up winning 42-21.”
After allowing Nicholls to to convert on its first five third down conversions, the Colonels converted just five of its last 12 after entering the game eighth in FCS. Eastern, meanwhile, started one of its first five but finished at 9-of-16 for the game.
“When two champions get together, there are going to be punches thrown back and forth,” Best said. “They threw more way early on, but we absorbed the punches and got our own punch in when Dylan Ledbetter blocked that ball. The block was awesome, but the return by Kedrick was even more awesome. We could have had momentum at 14-3, but at 14-10 we had a ton of momentum.”
Magic in the Inferno! 🎩🔴
Step 1 – Block FG
Step 2 – Scoop
Step 3 – TO THE HOUSE!
— FCS Football (@NCAA_FCS) December 1, 2018
After the blocked field goal, EWU QB Eric Barriere, RB Sam McPherson and the offense started to click in the second half.
After a 34 yard touchdown pass to WR Andrew Boston, Eastern Washington’s next possessions were puncuated by two rushing touchdowns of 4 and 34 yards respectively by McPherson. A 95 yard interception return by Ketner Kupp, brother of the LA Rams’ Cooper Kupp, ended the scoring onslaught.
The win advances Eastern to the quarterfinals where it will face UC Davis on Saturday, Dec. 8 at 1 p.m. at Roos Field. The game will be broadcast nationally via the ESPN streaming service.
Chuck has been writing about Lehigh football since the dawn of the internet, or perhaps it only seems like it. He’s executive editor of the College Sports Journal and has also written a book, The Rivalry: How Two Schools Started the Most Played College Football Series.
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