Eastern Washington running back Quincy Forte is the first to admit it: He’s taking his game to a higher level because he’s riding the shoulders of his teammates.
That includes his offensive line, quarterback Vernon Adams and especially the big stable of backs who’ve paved the way for Forte to run like a thoroughbred in December.
With 392 yards in two FCS playoff games, Forte has given the Eagles what they haven’t had since Taiwan Jones in 2010: a feature back – but you won’t hear that from either Forte or head coach Beau Baldwin.
“We work as a team,” Forte said. “Coach Baldwin talks about that a lot, those young guys getting a lot of carries early in the year, that’s helped us a lot.”
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The Eagles, who host Towson on Saturday, are a win away from playing for the FCS national title.
Forte ran for 190 yards on 24 carries in Eastern’s quarterfinal win over Jacksonville State.
That effort – seven days after going off for 202 yards against South Dakota State – puts Forte at 1,131 yards for the season on only 165 carries, a 6.9-yard average.
To put that in perspective, Walter Payton finalist Terrance West of Towson will bring a 6.3-yard average into Saturday’s semifinal at Roos Field. But then West has carried the ball 364 times. And that’s the whole point.
“I’d be sore all season if I had to carry it 25 times every game,” said Forte, a junior from Fairfield, Calif., who didn’t even suit up for the season opener at Oregon State because of a hamstring injury.
Early in the season, the load fell on redshirt freshmen Jabari Wilson and Jalen Moore – until injuries put them on the sideline.
“He’s just so fast,” Eagle running backs coach Kiel McDonald said. “We’re just trying to slow him down, and make him understand that it’s a team game, to let the hole develop and when you see it, to use all the gifts that God gave you.”
Of all his backs, Baldwin said that the 5-foot-11, 190-pound Forte offers the best combination of power and speed.
Forte, who lines up as a receiver when the Eagles go to an empty backfield, also is the team’s fifth-leading receiver with 17 catches for 211 yards and four TDs.