MOSCOW, Idaho – Chris Ojoh and Jack Sendelbach stood helpless on Eastern Washington’s sideline Saturday, both starting linebackers shelved this week with injuries.
Two of EWU’s top run-stoppers looked on as Idaho ran through the 11th-ranked Eagles’ first and second levels in a 35-27 upset at the Kibbie Dome, Idaho’s first win over EWU in 20 years.
The Eagles’ struggling secondary could have also used the services of its top cornerback, Darreon Moore, who was also out with an injury.
Jusstis Warren, another viable pass rusher and University of Washington graduate transfer, missed the third straight game.
But Idaho was also missing a handful of big contributors, including starting cornerback Sedrick Thomas, defensive end Kayode Rufai and center Conner Vrba.
EWU head coach Aaron Best didn’t make excuses for the missing bodies that would have likely helped stop Idaho’s suddenly potent offense.
“I’m not going to worry about the bodies we don’t have – at 28-0 they dictated tempo and kept (quarterback) Eric (Barriere) where they needed to,” Best said. “Credit their defensive game plan. And they ran the ball better than us and were more consistent with it.”
EWU (1-3) may have been the walking wounded, but self-inflicted wounds killed their momentum on numerous occasions.
Idaho (2-2) had a 14-0 lead when EWU’s Dylan Ledbetter blocked a field-goal attempt early in the second quarter, giving EWU a chance to cut the lead in the half.
One play later, EWU running back Antoine Custer fumbled on the Eagles’ 19 yard line, setting up an easy Idaho touchdown to make it a 21-0 ballgame.
Later in the second quarter, Barriere – who missed wide-open receivers on multiple throws – helped manufacture the Eagles’ best drive of the half but was intercepted by Christian Elliss.
In the third quarter, Barriere found Dre’ Sonte Dorton deep, but Dorton was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct after the catch. EWU ended that drive by failing to convert on a fourth-and-goal situation.
Cotton shines for Idaho
After a 10-catch day for 110 yards and a touchdown, Idaho’s leading receiver, Jeff Cotton, has 38 catches for 429 yards and three touchdowns on the season.
Idaho left six points on the field as All-America kicker Cade Coffey had a pair of field goals blocked.
Big day for Hayes
EWU safety Dehonta Hayes had a game-high 17 tackles and a third-quarter interception in Idaho territory that led to one of Barriere’s two rushing touchdowns.
Walker leads Idaho defense
Vandals middle linebacker Tre Walker led Idaho with 14 tackles, including one for loss. Strong safety Tyrese Dedmon and buck linebacker Charles Akanno each added nine tackles.