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October 4, 2012     Cheney Free Press
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October 4, 2012

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Page 12 Section 2 Free Press Thursday, October 4, 2012 Crunch Time continued from page 1 Beau Baldwin smiling and happy, albeit probably still a bit stunned by how quickly this game turned from a lump of coal to a big fat shiney diamond. As the Black Eyed Peas "I got a feeling that tonight's gonna'be a good mght," blasted through the new Roos Field sound system, with hugs, hand- shakes and high-fives ev- erywhere, Baldwin was surrounded by well wish- ers and the media. When reminded of some of the somber press conferences in the media room above Montana's Dalhberg Arena, discuss- ing a pair of gut-wrench- ing losses - 41-34 in 2009 and 17-14 last year - Bald- win was quick to agree Saturday was indeed a good night. "It was a wild finish and our guys just kept be- lieving," Baldwin said. After freshman quar- terback Vernon Adams had a pair of turnovers on back-to-back possessions midway through the final period, it was easy for some fans to gwe up be- lieving and head off to do what was sure to be some crying in their tailgating beers - properly disguised in red Solo cups of course. So not only did they miss one of the most im- probable comebacks in at least recent Eastern football history - yes, even more so than the one in Frisco all things considered - they didn't get to experience the rush onto the field of thou- sands of Eastern students who thought they won a national championship or something. EWU football continued from page 1 back from the brink of another disappointing and devastating loss to Montana, something that seemed to have become more common than not in recent years. Trailing 23-17 and at the Grizzlies' 38, Adams threw to Kaufman in double coverage and the ball was intercepted by Matt Hermanson with 10:25 remaining. The Griz tacked on a 25-yard field goal to boost their lead to 26-17 at the 8:26 mark. Eastern's next possession lasted just four plays before a scrambling Adams had the ball slip out of his hand and Montana recovered at their own 49. "The best thing he did was when he came to the sideline, he didn't pout or slam his helmet," Baldwin said. "He just kept saying we are gomg to get another shot." And they did once Eastern's tired and battered defense toughened up one more time to stop Montana on a three-and-out. Eastern began their drive at the 18, got critical plays from Kaufman - a 21-yard catch that took the ball into Montana territory - and Jordan Talley's 7- yard gain on a fourth-and- one before Adams spotted Kaufman inside the goal line in the middle of the end zone for the first TD. The onside kick followed with Kaufman playing a key roll tipping the ball so that Hill could recover. Even when he wasn't catching passes, the 6- foot-5-inch Kaufman was on Montana minds. "Kaufman is an amazing player and he should be on Montana's mind," Baldwin said. "He is one of those guys that will open up opportunities for other players on the team at times, which he was able to do." Adams completed 25- of-41 passes for 353 yards and three touchdowns in his second career start for the Eagles. His first came Sept. 22 at Weber State where he helped engineer a win over the Wildcats by a similar 32-26 score before exiting the game in the second half due to cramping. Adams also scrambled for a team- Beating the Griz can certainly feel like it's a bigger deal than it is some- times. That's because even though Montana's been going through a rough patch recently with issues both on and off the field, the Ursus arctos horribilis are still toward the top of the football food chain. The calm and collect- edness Adams exhibited in the throes of having his day unravel in that fourth quarter implosion thoroughly impressed Baldwin. "The best thing he did when he came to the side- lines, he didn't pout, he didn't slam his helmet, he just kept saying we're going to get another shot, we're going to get another shot," Baldwin said. And he did the next time he got his hands on the ball, shaking off the interception that was the byproduct of a throw into the end zone to Brandon Kaufman. He found his main man for two key catches in the drive that drew Eastern to within 26-24. "I trust Kauf, that's my guy," Adams said in a post-game interview. "I trust Greg (Herd), I trust all these receivers but I knew Kauf was going to come back and get anoth- er; he was upset I knew he Photo by Pa~l Delaney Eastern quarterback Vernon Adams takes a moment on the sidelines Saturday to reflect. The freshman overcame mistakes to direct a two-touchdown rally was going to go get it so I by the Eagles in the final came back to him." Montana 32-26. Then with the unlikely opportunity to go for the (Clark) up the sidelines win seconds later, Adams and I hit him; I'm so glad said his work in the past he caught it." week's practice paid off. Rallies and big de- "My main goal this fensive stands at or near week was scramble and the ends of games have keep my eyes downfield," become a nearly trade- Adams said. "I see Ashton marked outcome for leading 54 yards rushing. Kaufman finished with eight catches for 138 yards and a pair of scores in his fifth-straight 100-yard receiving game. His first came as he caught a 36-yard pass in stride from Adams with 11:42 to go in the first half. That broke a 7-7 tie following an Eastern running touchdown from Demitrius Bronson at 10:47 of the first and Pe- ter Nguyen's score for Montana six minutes later. "Montana was taking it to us in the second half, absolutely taking it to us," Baldwin said. At one point in the second half the Griz had a 169 to a minus-4 advantage in total yards as they rallied from a 17-10 halftime deficit to outscore Eastern 13-0 and take a 23-17 lead into the final 15 minutes. Quarterback Trent McKinney and running back Jordan Canada scored less than three minutes apart. Canada's TD came two plays after a muffed punt from Eastern'sJake Miller when the snap was low. The Eagles, who lost safety Jeff Minnerly to Ronnie Hamlin had 14 a broken collarbone on total tackles, Grant Wil- the first series, had given liams 13 and Tyler Wash- up bunches of yards on burn 12, plus a fumble the ground - 407 total by recovery. Allen Brown game's end - surrendered added 11 tackles and Evan just two yards on the Day a fumble recovery. crucial stand. The 407 Eastern next plays Big yards were the most Sky newcomer North Da- against the Eagles since kota, a recent 35-17loser to Southern Utah rushed for Cal Poly, Saturday at 5:05 535 yards in 1998. p.m. on Hall of Fame Day Canada had 167 ofat Roos Field. North Dako- those yards on 19 carries taisoneoftherareschools while Nguyen added without a nickname after another 23 touches and the NCAA forced them 119 yards. Quarterback to discontinue use of the McKinney scrambled Fighting Sioux . for 95 while bulldozer P a u l D e l a n e y back Dan Moore added can be reached at 24 yards before getting pdelaney@chenevfreepress. injured, com. minutes as they overcame Eastern football in recent years. "That was pretty high and pretty low but the sidelines just kept their cool no different than the WSU game," Baldwin said. "One of our mottos is panic will always equal defeat," Baldwin said. 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