BOZEMAN — Eastern Washington has boasted some explosive offenses in the past, but none put up as many yards as the Eagles did Saturday.
Granted, EWU played its home opener against a Division II opponent, but it still had to go out and execute its game plan. The Eagles couldn’t have done that any better while posting a school-record 769 yards of offense in a 59-31 victory over Lindenwood.
And it wasn’t just the yardage record that fell.
Senior wideout Dre’Sonte Dorton finished with 289 receiving yards, the most in a single game in school history. It broke the previous mark of 275 set by Cooper Kupp in a 2015 game against Northern Colorado. Dorton’s 15 catches were the fourth-most in EWU history, five shy of Kupp’s mark.
Incidentally, Dorton wears No. 10 at EWU, just as Kupp — who now plays in the NFL with the Los Angeles Rams — did during his illustrious career.
“No. 10 was special back a few years ago and No. 10 was special in 2019,” coach Aaron Best said in an EWU press release. “They just have different names — one was Cooper Kupp and now it's Dre’Sonte Dorton.
“I'll drop a line to (Kupp) and let him know No. 10 stepped up.”
Junior quarterback Eric Barriere, meanwhile, came up just short of the school record for single-game total offense, finishing with 556 yards. Barriere threw for 522 yards on 32-of-46 passing with five touchdowns.
Barriere’s passing yards were the second-most ever in an EWU game. Gage Gubrud, now a fifth-year graduate transfer QB at Washington State, threw for 549 yards at Montana in 2017.
For their efforts, Dorton and Barriere each took home national honors on Monday. Dorton was named the national FCS offensive player of the week by STATS, while College Sports Madness gave Barriere its Big Sky Conference offensive player of the week nod.
Weber State running back Josh Davis was named Monday as the top offensive player for Week 2 by the Big Sky. Davis, last year’s Jerry Rice Award winner as the top freshman in the FCS, rushed for 129 yards and two touchdowns in the Wildcats’ 41-24 win over Cal Poly, a game that did not count toward the conference standings.
Sterk, Louie-McGee make waves
Montana’s Jerry Louie-McGee put himself in some good company with a weaving 74-yard punt return touchdown Saturday in a 61-17 romp of North Alabama at Washington-Grizzly Stadium.
Louie-McGee now has three career punt return touchdowns, which ties him for No. 1 in school history with two standout special teams players from the past: Marc Mariani (2006-09) and Levander Segars (2001-04).
The touchdown gave Montana a 40-17 lead, effectively putting the game away. Louie-McGee, a senior from Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, finished with 150 punt return yards, the second-most in a game in Griz annals. On Monday, Louie-McGee was named the Big Sky Conference’s special teams player of the week.
“When Jerry wins the player of the week as a punt returner, I mean, he didn’t play any other plays (on special teams), so he’s the special teams player of the week based on his punt return ability and his statistics in that week,” coach Bobby Hauck said during a press conference Monday in Missoula.
“Good for that punt return team. They’re working awfully hard, and as I said, they believe in him and they work hard for him, and it showed up on Saturday.”
Montana State defensive end Bryce Sterk had six tackles and three quarterback sacks in a 38-17 victory over Southeast Missouri on Saturday, a win that vaulted the Bobcats into the top 10 of the STATS Top 25 poll.
Sterk, who had 8 1/2 sacks last season and already has four through two games this year, was named a co-recipient of the Big Sky’s defensive player of the week award. He shared the honor with UC Davis’ defensive back Devon King.
King forced a fumble at the goal line with two seconds left to help preserve the Aggies’ 38-35 victory over San Diego.
Big Sky-MVFC challenge
Through two weeks, the Big Sky Conference holds a slight 2-1 edge against the Missouri Valley Football Conference in the annual challenge series between two of the top conferences in the FCS.
Northern Iowa defeat Southern Utah 34-17 this past week, but Montana had topped South Dakota 31-17 and Northern Arizona beat Missouri State 37-23 in Week 1 to put the Big Sky in front.
There is only one challenge series game on the docket this week, as Montana State travels to play Western Illinois.
There are six more matchups scheduled after that, including five on Sept. 21: Idaho State at Northern Iowa, NAU at Illinois State, South Dakota at Northern Colorado, UC Davis at North Dakota State (in a marquee matchup) and Southern Utah at South Dakota State.
The Missouri Valley won the challenge series in each of the past two seasons.
Montana State (1-1), as previously noted, moved ahead three spots to No. 10 in this week’s STATS poll following its victory over SEMO. It is the Bobcats’ first time in the top 10 since the halfway point of the 2014 season.
Montana (2-0) jumped ahead two spots to No. 20 by beating North Alabama.
Eastern Washington (1-1) held steady at No. 4, as did UC Davis (1-1) at No. 5. Weber State (1-1) slid up one spot to No. 6, meaning the Big Sky Conference now has four teams in the top 10, by far the most of any conference.
Nationally, Central Arkansas (2-0) made the biggest jump, moving from No. 20 to No. 11 after knocking off Austin Peay on the road, 24-16. The Bears had already beaten FBS Western Kentucky in Week 1.
Southeast Missouri (1-1) fell seven spots to No. 19 after its loss to Montana State.
Around the league
Sacramento State nearly pulled off an upset over Pac-12 foe Arizona State last week but ultimately fell 19-7. The Hornets trailed 12-0 into the fourth quarter as it limited the Sun Devils to four field goals, then pulled within one possession when Tao McClinton scored on a 9-yard pass from QB Kevin Thomson. But ASU iced the game with 4:42 left on Eno Benjamin’s 72-yard TD catch. … NAU QB Case Cookus threw for 373 yards in a 65-41 loss against the Pac-12’s Arizona on Saturday, and is now averaging 331.5 yards per game, which is good for fourth in the Big Sky. EWU’s Barriere has thrown for a league-best 733 yards with six TDs and no interceptions.