Eastern Washington senior Cooper Kupp set the all-time FCS receptions record Saturday on a night where he scored on a run and a punt return to help the Eagles beat Idaho State 48-17.
The Bengals (2-8, 1-6) have lost six straight going into next week’s season finale against Weber State in Pocatello.
Kupp’s seventh catch of the game came in the fourth quarter to reach 396 in his career, passing Terrell Hudgins of Elon (2006-09). Kupp came in with 389 receptions, having already surpassed the FBS record of 387.
EWU called a timeout after the record-setting catch to honor Kupp, who then left the game. Kupp previously broke 12 FCS, eight Big Sky and 21 school records.
Cooper added a 76-yard punt return for a touchdown in the third, making it a 34-17 game.
“That kid, punt return is probably the best thing that he does because he runs so hard inside of every play. The ability to run hard inside of every play is absolutely the recipe you need as a punt returner, because at the end of the play is where you’re making the play, not necessarily at the very start,’’ Idaho State coach Mike Kramer said.
“I thought for the night, we did a pretty good job of containing him. I don’t think they played especially sharp. They came off of two tough games at Montana and at Cal Poly. Offensively, they weren’t where they wanted to be, but they found some rhythm a little bit with the sprint draw which is a big play for them out the back door. Then all of a sudden it was run, catch, pass, throw, run, catch ... 577 yards of mayhem.’’
EWU’s eighth straight win gives the Eagles (9-1, 7-0) a chance to tie North Dakota (8-0) for the Big Sky title if they win their regular-season finale at Portland State on Friday.
Idaho State was outgained 557-292 as the Bengals struggled to put together any offense. Trea Pilster completed 16-of-37 passes for 129 yards, one TD and one interception. He was sacked four times.
James Madison rushed 24 times for 86 yards, and Josh Cook had eight catches for 86 yards.
“We played without our top two tailbacks who are both back in Pocatello right now. We played without a lot of guys on offense and I just think our offensive coaches did a wonderful job,’’ Kramer said. “Defensively, we came up with interceptions and fumble recoveries and played pretty hard. We didn’t play hard enough, well enough, long enough against a really, really good offensive team, and that’s kind of the tale to tell."