Game against NAU a must-win to bolster playoff hopes
CHENEY, Wash. – The No. 18 Eastern Eagles were happy a month ago to find out the NCAA lifted their postseason ban, allowing them to compete in the playoffs if they were to be selected. Now it’s that whole “selection” thing EWU has to battle.
It’s been that kind of a roller coaster season for coach Beau Baldwin’s team in Cheney. Eastern Washington sits at 7-3 overall, and 5-2 in the Big Sky. He’s well aware a win Saturday against Northern Arizona is a must if they want to keep playing.
“Our guys have done a great job of staying focused each week,” said Baldwin. “We’ve taken a few lumps along the way but we’ve put ourselves in a situation where we’re trying to play for something going into the last game of the season.”
|story continues below...|
|QB Matt Nichols and the Eastern Eagles know they must beat Northern Arizona to make the FCS Playoffs. (Photo: SWX)|
“We can’t control what happens if we win, but if we lose we know what’s going to happen: our season’s going to be over,” said defensive lineman Jacob Kragt. “We’re treating this as a first round of our playoff run – hopefully. So this is a huge game for us.”
Should they beat Northern Arizona and be selected to the playoffs, it will be EWU’s fourth FCS Playoff berth in six years. The game on Saturday is at Flagstaff, with kickoff scheduled for 2:05 p.m. (PT). The selection happens on Sunday, with the results broadcast nationally on ESPNews at Noon (PT).
The Eagles were ranked as high as No. 15 this season before losing 31-13 to then No. 21 Weber State. They fell to No. 21 after losing 41-34 to No. 3 Montana in a game that went down to the wire and could have gone the other way had the officials not blown a couple of controversial calls.
Eastern Washington made the playoffs in 2007 and 2004 with an 8-3 record, so having three losses doesn’t automatically disqualify them from the selection process.
Eastern Washington at Northern Arizona
Sat., Nov. 21 at 2:05 PT
Radio: 1510-AM in Spokane (may change to 1050am or 790am)