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EOU’s Ray Walser is wrapped up by a Montana Western defender in the Mountaineers’ 16-3 loss to the Bulldogs Saturday at Community Stadium. CASEY KELLAS - The Observer
The days of 40 points and 500 yards of offense may not be completely over for the Eastern Oregon University football team, but for the time being, those days aren’t anywhere in sight.
The Mountaineers fell to Montana Western 16-3 Saturday at Community Stadium, their lowest point total since a 38-3 loss to Carroll College on Sept. 15, 2007.
The EOU offense was held to 253 yards and was forced to punt 10 times while picking up just 13 first downs in the game.
“The rhythm is not there,” coach Tim Camp said of his offense. “It’s the continuity and the flow of things that’s not where it needs to be right now.
“We put an offense in very fast this fall. No excuses, but it’s my job to make sure the kids know exactly what’s going on.”
The Mountaineers had to punt on their first six possessions of the first half. After punting and losing a fumble on its first two possessions, Montana Western got on the board with 4:49 to play in the first quarter.
The Bulldogs went 77 yards in 12 plays before Dylan Kramer punched it in from one-yard out. UMW added a 24-yard field goal in the second quarter before a 17-yard touchdown pass from Jeff Logan to Matt Lickfold with 32 seconds left before halftime made it 16-0.
A long completion to Jace Billingsly on the ensuing Mountainteers’ drive set up a 32-yard field goal by Marc David as time expired in the second quarter, making it a 16-3 game.
But the score would remain the same from that point on.
Ray Walser replaced starter Jason Simonis at quarterback in the second half, but EOU was never able to sustain long drives.
“I was trying to get something sparked,” Camp said. “It’s not that I don’t believe in Jason, because I think he’s going to be a nice quarterback — he is a nice quarterback — it’s just that we’re going through some youth battles at that position. And those are things we gotta get fixed.”
A fumble by Luis Ortiz in the fourth quarter went into the endzone for a touchback on a promising drive for EOU. Then late in the fourth, the Mountaineers blocked a punt at the 17 yard line, but failed to do anything with it, turning the ball over on downs.
“We had a couple situations, we fumble the ball. That would have been a big play for us. Then I decide to go for the block and we got it, but then we have four inefficient plays in a row inside the red zone. Those are things you can’t do. You have to at least capitalize on something. That’s frustrating in my mind,” Camp said.
Walser finished eight for 19 for 105 yards, while Simonis was 13 for 20 for 71 yards.
Camp said he will look at the game tape before deciding on a starting quarterback for next week’s game at Southern Oregon.
“I think we have a couple good guys that we can look upon, then we’ll make that decision as competition brings out the best in everyone during the week of practice.”
EOU not only struggled through the air, but rushing the ball as well. Sean Hurlbut led the team with 36 yards rushing on nine attempts. Matt Orthmann had 27 yards. Ortiz finished with 47 yards receiving on three catches, while Billingsly had 44 yards on three grabs.
EOU will have to figure out its offensive woes in a hurry, as the Raiders are averaging 43.5 points per game. Southern Oregon is coming off a 48-45 loss to Montana Tech in double overtime Saturday.
“We have to find out what we’re good at,” Camp said. “And right now, if you’re a fan in the stands, it doesn’t look like we’re good at anything. And that’s my job. We’re going to do everything we can to make sure that we get that fixed for these boys so they can go out and feel like they can have some success. It’s not always as bad as it looks.”
EOU and Southern Oregon will have live video and stats on EOUSports.com. Live radio will be on KCMB 104.7 FM. A live television broadcast will be on Charter Channel 3 in La Grande.
Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m.