Eastern Washington football left out of 2019 FCS playoffs
A deep tradition in the postseason and overall in this decade didn’t translate to a berth in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision Playoff when bids were handed out Sunday (Nov. 24).
Eastern finished 7-5 overall and 6-2 in the Big Sky Conference to finish in a three-way tie for third with two other league schools who were selected among the top six seeds in the 24-team tourney. Big Sky co-champions Weber State and Sacramento State earned the No. 3 and 4 seeds, respectively, after finishing 7-1 in the league, while fifth-seeded Montana State and No. 6 Montana joined EWU with 6-2 records in the league.
North Dakota, a team EWU defeated 35-20 on Sept. 28, received one of 14 at-large berths. Eastern was 0-2 versus other teams who made the bracket (losses to Sacramento State and Montana).
Nevertheless, Eastern can take solace in that it finishes the regular season with the third-most wins in this decade (2010-19) with 97 victories, and its winning percentage of .735 (97-35) is fifth-best among 124 schools currently in FCS .
Moreover, the Eagles still rank 12th overall in FCS playoff berths with 13, and currently have the ninth-most victories (19) and the seventh-best percentage (.612, 19-12). Eastern has 10 playoff berths in a 16-year span (2004-19), ranking the Eagles as one of only six schools among 124 in FCS to accomplish that feat.
Eastern started the season 1-3 and lost its first four road games. However, the Eagles finished a perfect 5-0 at home to extend its school-record winning streak at Roos Field to 14 games. Eastern won its last two road contests to finish the 2019 season with a four-game winning streak and its 13th-straight winning campaign.
Eastern will likely finish the 2019 season with the best offense in FCS , finishing at 524.8 yards per game. Playoff automatic qualifier San Diego is second at 498.8 per game, and postseason games count in the rankings. Eastern also ended the regular season fourth in scoring (40.6), fourth in first downs (290), fifth in passing (317.1) and seventh in turnover margin (+0.92 per game).
The Eagles also ranked 21st in rushing at 207.8 yards per game, and joined Prairie View as the only team in FCS to rank in the top 21 in total offense, rushing and passing.
Junior quarterback Eric Barriere is second in total offense (355.8, E.J. Perry of Brown is at 367.8), third in passing (309.3) and fifth in points responsible for (20.2 per game). Senior running back Antoine Custer Jr. is 16th in rushing (102.3), 10th in total rushing yards (1,228), sixth in passing TDs (31) and eighth in rushing touchdowns (16).
Junior Talolo Limu-Jones is presently second in average per reception at 24.04, trailing only Isaiah Weston of Northern Iowa, which is also participating in the playoffs.
Redshirt freshman Seth Harrison will end the season first in field goal percentage, with a perfect 12-of-12 performance. He is the only kicker in FCS with at least one field goal attempt per game to make all of his field goals this season.
Eastern’s next game is scheduled for Sept. 5, 2020, at Florida. The Eagles open a six-game home schedule the following week versus Western Illinois on Sept. 12, and also host Northern Arizona (Sept. 19), Montana (Oct. 3), Idaho (Oct. 17), Weber State (Oct. 24) and Montana State (Nov. 7).
Eastern’s honored 19 seniors in its season-ending 53-46 home win over Portland State, including several who are candidates to receive sixth years and return in 2020. One senior redshirted ( Tamarick Pierce ) and one ( Jusstis Warren ) elected not to take part in the pre-game introductions because of his intention to apply for a sixth year.
Together, those seniors helped Eastern go 38-14 overall (73.1 percent) and 27-5 (84.4 percent) in Big Sky Conference play in the last three-plus seasons. After Saturday’s game, those 19 seniors combined for 790 games played and 364 total starts in their careers. One of them, defensive end Darnell Hogan , made the second start of his career versus the Vikings.
Eastern’s particularly large group of 27 seniors honored a year ago was reduced to 25 when Spencer Blackburn and Kaleb Levao each received a sixth year to complete four years of eligibility at EWU .
FCS PLAYOFF BREAKDOWN
2019 Automatic Qualifiers (10)
Big Sky – #3 Seed – Weber State (9-3, 7-1)
Big South – Monmouth (10-2, 6-0) – 8-game win streak
CAA – #2 Seed – James Madison (11-1, 8-0) – 11-game win streak
Missouri Val. – #1 Seed – N. Dakota St. (12-0, 8-0) – 12-game win streak
Northeast – Central Conn. St. (11-1, 7-0) – 8-game win streak
Ohio Valley – Austin Peay (9-3, 7-1) – 5-game win streak
Patriot – Holy Cross – Patriot (7-5, 5-1)
Pioneer – San Diego (9-2, 8-0) – 9-game win streak
Southern – Wofford (8-3, 7-1)
Southland – Nicholls State (8-4, 7-2)
At-Large Berths (14)
#4 Seed – Sacramento State – Big Sky (9-3, 7-1)
#5 Seed – Montana St. – Big Sky (9-3, 6-2) – 4-game win streak
#6 Seed – Montana – Big Sky (9-2, 6-1) – 4-game win streak
Kennesaw State – Big South (10-2, 5-1)
Albany – CAA (8-4, 6-2)
Villanova – CAA (9-3, 5-3)
Illinois State – Missouri Valley (8-4, 5-3)
#7 Seed – South Dakota State – Missouri Valley (8-4, 5-3)
Northern Iowa – Missouri Valley (8-4, 6-2)
Southeast Mo. St. – Ohio Val. (9-3, 7-1) – 6-game win streak
Furman – Southern (8-4, 6-2)
#8 Seed – Central Arkansas – Southland (9-3, 6-2)
Southeastern La. – Southland (7-4, 6-3)
North Dakota – Independent (7-4)
NCAA Selection Committee:
Greg Seitz , the Jacksonville State athletic director who represents the Ohio Valley Conference, is the chair of the committee, which also consists of Thorr Bjorn (Rhode Island, CAA Football), Randy Eaton (Western Carolina, Southern Conference), Kent Haslem (Montana, Big Sky Conference), Eugene Marshall Jr. (Hampton, Big South Conference), Kyle Moats (Missouri State, Missouri Valley Football Conference), Tim Murray (Marist, Pioneer Football League), Matt Roan (Nicholls, Southland Conference), Bill Smith (Bryant, Northeast Conference) and Jermaine Truax ( Bucknell , Patriot League).