Eastern Washington notebook: Eagles secondary steps up in win over UC Davis; Webster twins relish big Senior Day
Twin brothers Nsimba and Nzuzi Webster sat down in front of a group of reporters Saturday following No. 5 Eastern Washington’s 59-20 thrashing of fourth-ranked UC Davis, their smiles lighting up the school’s designated news conference room.
Standing behind the TV cameras were a few of the Websters’ family members, who made the trek from Oakland, California. A couple of the proud relatives filmed the interview with their phones, capturing the rarity of the twins being interviewed at once in a postgame setting.
The senior wide receiver and cornerback, two of the 27 players who celebrated Senior Day in the last regular-season home game of their career, deserved the attention.
Nzuzi, who has been a starting defensive back since his freshman season, came up with a momentum-changing interception early in the third quarter, returning it for a touchdown.
He also helped a secondary which had the lion’s share of EWU’s 13 pass breakups, three by safety Mitch Fettig.
Nsimba, EWU’s leading receiver, had 103 yards on just three catches, and also showed some nifty footwork on a would-be wide receiver pass he opted to keep for a nice gain.
Playing in meaningful November games is why the Antioch, California, products came to EWU, where they are in the final stretch of their careers.
They cherished this win, and not just because the FCS Game of the Week was a lopsided triumph.
“It’s a true blessing,” Nzuzi said, as Nsimba nodded in agreement. “Especially with our parents here. To go out there and perform, especially in a big game like this.
“We always pictured something like this growing up. When the moment came, we capitalized.”
“We’re very grateful,” Nsimba said.
EWU cornerbacks coach Cherokee Valeria demanded more interceptions after the Eagles came up with a meager six picks in 2017.
The Eagles have tallied six in the past two games, including Nzuzi, Josh Lewis and Cole Karstetter’s interceptions Saturday.
EWU has 11 total interceptions. D’londo Tucker leads the way with three.
Ojoh steps up
With EWU senior linebacker Kurt Calhoun out with an injury, sophomore Chris Ojoh has made his presence felt.
The fast and physical Ojoh had a team-high 10 tackles against UC Davis, a week after tallying seven tackles and a sack in a 48-13 win at Northern Colorado.
He provided the pressure on a blitz Saturday that forced an errant throw by quarterback Jake Maier, a scoring interception by Nzuzi Webster.
Linebackers coach Josh Fetter has said that Ojoh, a sophomore, is EWU’s most physically gifted linebacker.
Pedal to the metal
When EWU took a 52-20 lead with just more than 7 minutes left in the fourth quarter, coach Aaron Best elected to keep starting quarterback Eric Barriere in for the rest of the game.
After the Eagles recovered a fumble in the closing minutes, Barriere connected on a 6-yard touchdown pass to Trenton Harris with 41 seconds left for the final margin.