(Editor’s note: Big Sky Conference media release)
CHENEY, Wash. (December 15, 2018) – Seven touchdown passes for Eric Barriere, four touchdown receptions for Nsimba Webster and No. 3 Eastern Washington sailed its way through the air to a 50-19 victory over No. 7 Maine in the semifinals of the NCAA Division I Football Championship to advance to their second title game appearance in school history. The Eagles draw defending champion No. 1 North Dakota State in the championship game.
The Eagles racked up 318 yards of offense in the first half that led to a 28-0 advantage heading into the locker room. Barriere registered four touchdown passes, including a pair of touchdown completions to Nsimba Webster to close out the half.
Barriere and Webster continued their assault on the Maine defense in the second half, as the pair juked and jived past the Black Bear defense with ease. Barriere tied Vernon Adams’ school record of seven touchdown passes, while Webster recorded a career-best four touchdown receptions on the day.
A bad snap early in the third quarter led to a safety for Maine – its first points of the game. The Black Bears were able to capitalize on the field position by adding a 31-yard made field goal less than two minutes later. A 47-yard touchdown pass midway through the third quarter added seven more points for Maine and then a two-yard score with 1:47 remaining in the third quarter cut the Eagles’ lead to 35-19.
Eagles added two straight touchdowns, the Black Bears had some untimely turnovers and it all worked out in favor of the Big Sky preseason favorite as they punched their ticket to the FCS Championship game.
Defensively, Josh Lewis collected a pair of interceptions and five tackles for the Eagles. Dehonta Hayes led all players with 13 tackles and the Eagles rallied for their seventh consecutive win.
Maine registered 479 yards of offense, while Eastern Washington forced four turnovers.
The Eagles competed in their sixth semifinal game in school history this afternoon and first under Best. The victory lands a Big Sky team in the championship game for the first time since 2010 – when the Eagles defeated Delaware 20-19 to win the national title.
Eastern Washington will play No. 1 North Dakota State in the FCS Championship game. The top seeded Bison State defeated South Dakota State, 44-21, to advance to its seventh title game in eight years. The Bison enter the championship having won 20 straight games and have a 111-8 record since 2011.
The FCS Championship game will be held in Frisco, Texas on Saturday, January 5 at Toyota Stadium.