Maine at Eastern Washington FCS Playoff Game Breakdown

#7 Maine at #3 Eastern Washington
Maine traveled more than halfway across the continent on Friday night and upset the #2 seed Weber State, 23-18. If not for a last second score, the final would have been 23-12. The Black Bears defense was even more dominant than the stout host’s they were visiting. How does four interceptions sound? Okay, how about three sacks and thirteen tackles for loss, limiting the Wildcats to -1 yards rushing? That’s impressive. Quarterback Chris Ferguson was only 15-30 passing, but did toss a pair of touchdowns. Ramon Jefferson added a 45 yard touchdown run with just under three minutes. The point after was missed, but a field goal less than a minute and a half later put the game out of reach.
Eastern Washington knew they were going to get a stronger effort from UC-Davis in the quarterfinals than the 59-20 drubbing they gave the Aggies earlier this year. And they were behind the 8 ball going into the fourth quarter, 21-14. Quarterback Eric Barriere was not about to allow the Eagles to come up short on his watch. A touchdown run and pass each in the first half of the fourth and Barriere had them back in front. That didn’t mean the Aggies were suddenly going to roll over. A responsive touchdown pass with 73 seconds left, was paired with a two-point conversion to put the Eagles behind again. Running back Sam McPherson took in a 35 yard run with 26 seconds to clinch the victory. The Eagles defense came up huge, forcing four turnovers against UC-Davis.
We spoke last week about Maine earning their frequent flyer miles and this will be an even longer trip. Remember, Maine only had four home games this season, hitting the road doesn’t seem to bother this team. Still, Eastern Washington is probably the most balanced team they will have played up to this point. Many saw the Eagles as the favorite from this side of the bracket, even though they were seeded lower than Weber State. The question is how much did UC-Davis take out of them. This game should be a real treat to watch. Defensively, both of these teams seem capable of shutting the other down. But the Eagles seem a little more likely to squeeze out more points. And they’re at home.
Prediction: Eastern Washington 24, Maine 17