The field is red.
Get over it.
It’s red. It’s called The Inferno. And it is the home of Eastern Washington University’s Eagles football team at Roos Field. Roos as in Michael Roos, longtime star offensive lineman for the Tennessee Titans.
Eastern Washington plays in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS). They are a perennial powerhouse in the Big Sky Conference and in all FCS. Ranked either #1 or 2 in FCS preseason polls, the Eagles had the privilege of opening the college football season against another powerhouse, Sam Houston State. Not just FCS level football. ALL of college football started in Cheney, WA on Saturday.
The Eagles have lost to the Bearkats each of the last two years. Last year, they lost early in late September. In 2012, the Bearkats came out on top in the semi-finals of the FCS playoffs. To say that this was a revenge game might be an overstatement, considering it was the season opener for both teams. But, those losses weren’t too far from the Eagles minds after their 56-35 win today.
“They kicked our butts last year. We were ready to get after it this year. For us to be able to answer back, we got down 21-14 and gave up a pick-six and two consecutive long touchdowns and still be able to win, that says a lot about the type of character we have,” said Tevin McDonald, senior defensive back.
“It means something. They’ve had our number. It means something nationally (for seeding later),” said Coach Beau Baldwin.
Despite the pick-six, junior quarterback Vernon Adams went 26-48 for 302 yards and 4 touchdowns. Seven of Adams’ passes found one of his favorite targets from last year, Cooper Kupp (7 receptions, 62 yards, 1 touchdown). Adams also rushed for 76 yards on 12 attempts. The two teams combined for over 1100 yards of total offense. Adding to the not-the-defense’s day department: EWU and SHSU ran 185 offensive plays combined with 60 first downs.
As the college football opener, ESPN was on hand to kick things off. Not ESPN2, ESPNews or ESPNU. It was the mothership itself, ESPN, in town for the first time. Their presence enabled Eastern Washington to have a sell-out crowd on hand in a sea of red – before school has even started and students are back on campus, it was a sell-out. Coach Baldwin added, “That whole red-out deal, I noticed it. We feed off that (energy). We knew we were the one game. That probably caused some of the jitters and near-misses early.”
Red on the field and red in the stands. All that red brought out a variety of comments on Twitter.
No matter how you feel about the red turf, college football is back, baby! And it all started in a little town in Eastern Washington.