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Eastern Washington sophomore quarterback Vernon Adams finished second in voting for the Payton Award given to the top player in the Football Championship Subdivision.

The winner was Eastern Illinois quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, and finishing third was Towson running back Terrance West.

EWU’s Cooper Kupp received the Jerry Rice Award as the top freshman in FCS.

Eastern Washington hosts Towson on Saturday in a semifinal playoff game.

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The Payton Award was won previously by Eastern players Erik Meyer (2005) and Bo Levi Mitchell (2011).

Eastern coach Beau Baldwin called the performance by Adams “the best I’ve seen since I’ve been a college football coach.”

Adams was Big Sky Conference Offensive Player of the Year.

“The ride this year isn’t even close to being over in our minds, and the same is true of the ride in terms of the growth we can make as a team and Vernon’s growth as a quarterback,” Baldwin said. “His mindset is that he wants to keep getting better and there is still a very high ceiling he can go after.”

Adams is second in the nation behind Garoppolo in total offense (367.1 yards per game), with Big Sky record totals of 5,140 yards of offense (third in FCS history), 4,600 passing yards (fourth) and 53 touchdown passes (third). His passing efficiency rating of 185.7 leads the nation, ranks fourth all-time in FCS and is well ahead of EWU and Big Sky records. The native of Pasadena, Calif., is 20-3 as an Eastern starter.

The Buck Buchanan Award (FCS outstanding defensive player) was given to Montana State’s Brad Daly and the Eddie Robinson Award (FCS coach of the year) was given to North Dakota State’s Craig Bohl.

Kupp, from Davis High School in Yakima, has already earned first-team All-America honors for a season that has included 85 catches for 1,567 yards and 21 touchdowns. All three are FCS records for a freshman, and his streak of 14 games with a TD catch is an FCS record.

Towson beat second-ranked Eastern Illinois 49-39 in the quarterfinals. West had an FCS playoff-record 354 rushing yards.

The 5-foot-11, 223-pound junior has 2,295 yards and 38 touchdowns this season and averages 6.3 yards a carry.

Material from EWU sports information and the Spokesman-Review contributed to this report.

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