Late turnovers prove costly at Eastern Washington
CHENEY, Wash. – Turnovers in the second-half proved extremely costly for the Northern Colorado football team as they lost 48-27 at defending national champion Eastern Washington on Saturday. The Bears scored at least three points in every quarter but had two interceptions and one fumble in the second half to set up the Eagles.
The Bears (0-7, 0-5 Big Sky) had a season-best 425 yards of total offense and 20 first downs, 17 coming off passing as sophomore quarterback Seth Lobato threw for a career-best 408 yards, completing 32-of-49 passes.
The Eagles (3-4, 3-2 Big Sky) totaled 522 yards of offense with 104 rushing yards and 418 passing yards as the two quarterbacks completed 29-of-43 attempts.
Senior wide receiver Patrick Walker caught 14 of Lobato's 32 passes for a career-best 166 yards and one touchdown. His 166 yards move him up three spots into eighth all-time at Northern Colorado with 1,727 yards and he is also now fourth with 141 career receptions, passing Bill Krueger (1985-88) who had 138.
Walker's 14 catches are the second-most in a single game in Northern Colorado history, just one shy of 15 by Vincent Jackson against Montana in 2004.
Lobato ended the game with 405 yards of total offense, the fourth-best single game total, while his 408 passing yards is second on that single game list.
Defensively, sophomore linebacker Clarence Bumpas recorded double figures in tackles for the fifth straight game with 12, while senior defensive back Elliott Dorsey also had 10. Freshman defensive back James Davis had his first career sack, while three of junior Marcel Gibbons' tackles were for lost yardage.
Eastern Washington was led by Bo Levi Mitchell who completed 28-of-39 passes for 400 yards, while Greg Herd caught 11 of those passes for 159 yards and one touchdown. Nicholas Edwards also caught two TD passes. The Eagles had three players record six tackles each, while both Paul Ena and Anthony Larry had 1.5 sacks.
Eastern Washington scored first on a 43-yard field goal with 9:55 on the clock.
The Bears answered with a nine-play, 76-yard drive where Lobato completed 7-of-7 passes and Hildreth ran it in from four-yards out with 5:53 to play in the first quarter for the 7-3 lead.
The Eagles regained the lead on a 19-yard touchdown pass from Mitchell to N. Edwards one play after the Bears were whistled for pass interference. With 11:54 before the half the score was 10-7. Mitchell called his own number after a seven-play drive that went 43 yards from one-yard out for the 17-7 advantage. After a missed field goal by the Bears, EWU had three big plays to extend the lead to 24-7 with 1:19 to go in the half.
A 19-yard return by Walker, helped out by a 15-yard personal foul gave the Bears the ball on their own 49-yard line. Gunn broke free for a 39-yard gain on a pass from Lobato and a pass-interference penalty by the Eagles placed the ball on the two-yard line. Dave Eden nailed a 22-yard field goal with two ticks remaining on the clock for the 24-10 score.
Walker caught a 37-yard reception in double coverage in the end zone to pull the Bears within a touchdown, 24-17 just two-and-a-half minutes into the third quarter. The teams traded field goals and then Eastern Washington scored back-to-back touchdowns after the Bears threw an interception to open the lead to 41-20 with 58 seconds left in the third quarter.
Northern Colorado was driving at the beginning of the fourth quarter and Lobato was hit from behind on a pass. The ball was ruled a fumble and the Eagles took over on the Bears 45-yard line. The defense got a stop, forcing a 43-yard field goal attempt, but NC jumped off-sides and EWU was able to sustain the drive and score another touchdown with 12:04 remaining for the 48-20 score.
On the ensuing drive, the Bears went 60-yards in 11 plays, capped by a three-yard rush by Lobato to make the score 48-27 with 8:31 to go.
Northern Colorado returns home next Saturday to host #3 Montana State for Friends and Family Weekend. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:35 pm and the game can be seen on Altitude Sports & Entertainment.