Eric Barriere is gone, so UC Davis might have a fighting chance of beating Eastern Washington on Saturday night in Davis. And a win would be a first for the Aggies, who are 0-10 all-time against the Eagles and can blame Barriere for four of those losses because the quarterback made a difference in each of those four games.
In those four games, Barriere completed 101 of 150 passes for 1,324 yards and 10 touchdowns. He threw two interceptions and was sacked six times, including five in the Eagles’ 34-29 victory in the 2018 FCS playoffs. UC Davis, Eastern Washington and Weber State shared the Big Sky Conference championship five years ago.
The five-point loss was the closest the Aggies came to beating Berriere and the Eagles. The playoff game came four weeks after UC Davis traveled to Cheney and was knocked out cold in a 59-20 victory. At least the Eagles were nice enough to shovel the snow from the red turf and provide sideline heaters for the Aggies.
Barriere threw for 285 yards and one touchdown, but the Eagles did not need anything more from him because they rushed for 370 yards and six touchdowns. Eastern Washington ran 94 offensive plays to 50 for UC Davis and had a 37:15-22:45 edge in time of possession. A 69-yard touchdown run by Tehran Thomas with 22 seconds to play in the second quarter left UC Davis trailing 21-17 at halftime.
Eastern Washington scored twice in the first seven minutes of the third quarter to blow the game open. Barriere’s touchdown pass came with 41 seconds remaining in the game, adding insult to injury for UC Davis. Why Barriere was still in the game with the Eagles leading by 32 points in the fourth quarter is anyone’s guess.
In the playoff rematch, UC Davis was 73 seconds away from its first victory against Eastern Washington after Jake Maier’s 3-yard touchdown pass to Ulonzo Gilliam. The Aggies passed on an extra-point attempt to tie the game and took the lead when Maier connected with Namane Modise for the two-point conversion.
Eastern Washington needed just 47 seconds to regain the lead. Berriere had a 29-yard run and then threw an 11-yard pass to Nsimba Webster. Focusing on Barriere cost the Aggies when Sam McPherson broke loose for a 35-yard touchdown run.
The next meeting came in April 2021 after the spread of COVID-19 led to the 2020 season being reduced to a five-game schedule in the spring. Berriere was 30-of-41 for 393 yards and three touchdowns. Two of his scoring passes came in the first half as the Eagles jumped out to a 16-0 lead on their way to a 32-22 victory.
It was more of the same seven months later when the teams met in Davis. Barriere was 34-of-54 for 411 yards and three touchdowns in a 38-20 victory. The Aggies finished the season with a three-game losing streak, falling 27-7 to Sacramento State in the Causeway Classic and 54-26 at South Dakota State in the playoffs.
Eastern Washington’s quarterback on Saturday will be redshirt sophomore Kekoa Visperas, who has thrown for 849 yards and five touchdowns in three games. The Eagles are 1-2 with losses to No. 2-ranked North Dakota State and Fresno State in double overtime. The Aggies are 2-1 and ranked 15th with their only loss coming at Oregon State, which is ranked 14th in the Associated Press Top 25 poll.
Six Big Sky teams are ranked in the FCS coaches poll and there will be two battles of ranked teams on Saturday in the first week of the conference season. Third-ranked Montana State will travel to No. 8 Weber State and No. 4 Sacramento State will pay a visit No. 10 Idaho. Montana is No. 11 and will travel to Northern Arizona.