CHENEY — Gage Gubrud finished 21 for 32 for 287 yards and three touchdowns, all three in the first half, to lead second-seeded Eastern Washington past Richmond 38-0 in the FCS quarterfinals on Saturday.
Samson Ebukam finished with eight tackles (four for loss), an interception and a forced fumble and Cooper Kupp had six receptions for 128 yards and a touchdown for the Eagles. Kupp became college football’s all-time leading receiver with 6,284 yards, passing Chris George of NAIA Glenville State (1991-1994).
Richmond fumbled four times in the first half and Eastern Washington went up 21-0 at halftime.
“I don’t think I’ve been a part of a playoff shutout in my life, let alone if you really think about it that’s seven quarters of scoreless football by our defense,” EWU coach Beau Baldwin said, referring to holding Central Arkansas scoreless in three quarters last week. “In college football these days that doesn’t happen.”
The Eagles (12-1) finished with six sacks and forced five turnovers.
The Eagles scored first midway through the first quarter when Gubrud found Nsimba Webster for a 7-yard touchdown pass. The touchdown came eight plays after EWU safety Mitch Fettig forced a fumble at the Spiders’ 45-yard line.
Gubrud hit Kupp for 68 yards after eluding a safety after a Spiders punt pinned Eastern on its 8. Kupp left the game momentarily after being hit, then returned to catch a 20-yard touchdown pass to put the Eagles up 14-0 with 7:45 left in the second quarter.
One play after Jonah Jordan recovered an unforced Richmond fumble at opposing 23 Gubrud hit Shaq Hill for a touchdown with 5:35 to go in the half.
Four of five Richmond first half drives ended in a fumble.
“I felt we had a good plan for the game on both sides of the ball. Early on we really couldn’t get a break, we turned the ball over four times in the first half,” Richmond coach Danny Rocco said. “When it was all said and done I think it was a little too much to ever really overcome.”
The Eagles scored twice on the ground in the second half, one from Jabari Wilson and the other from Antoine Custer Jr.
“Offensively on a day that’s tough, it’s cold, we’re just executing and taking care of the football, grinding out drives, hitting plays when we need to,” Baldwin said. “Sometimes when you’re up 21-0 it can be really easy to take, not purposefully, a little gasp and wait for the game to finish and our offense went right down and scored on that first drive of the second half.”
Richmond quarterback Kevin Johnson went 20 for 31 for 157 yards and an interception. He was sacked six times in his third start. Johnson burned a redshirt on the last game of the regular season after the Spiders’ starter Kyle Lauretta suffered a season-ending knee injury.
Eastern Washington plays Youngstown State in the FCS semifinals at Roos Field on either Dec. 16 at 4 p.m. or Dec. 17 at 3:30 p.m.