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La Grande Observer Paper 08/29/14

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The Eastern Oregon Mountaineers sure have their work cut out for them this week.

In fact, this will be Eastern's biggest challenge all season.

EOU is traveling to McMinnville Saturday to take on the Linfield Wildcats. Linfield is a perennial power, but the Wildcats look especially tough this season. They are the No. 3-ranked Div. III team in the nation.

The unbeaten Wildcats are averaging 44.3 points and 421 yards a game. Linfield's quarterback, 6-foot, 3-inch, 207-pound senior Tyler Matthews, is averaging 266.5 yards a game passing, has passed for 15 touchdowns in just four games. He has the No. 1 NCAA Div. III quarterback ranking at 177.4.

Linfield has beaten Redlands 49-10, Southern Oregon 47-42, Pacific Lutheran 19-10 and the University of Puget Sound 62-0.

Eastern, 2-3, is coming off a heartbreaking home loss to Pacific Lutheran. The Mountaineers played PLU extremely tough, but lost a fourth-quarter TD because of a holding call and gave up a TD in the final three minutes on a muffed punt. Eastern eventually fell to the Lutes 27-17.

Eastern is averaging 194.6 yards a game on the ground, with much of the damage being done lately by Justin Alsterlund.

Alsterlund has a total of 701 all-purpose yards (rushing, receiving, punt return, kick returns), for an average of 140.1 yards a game.

The Mountaineers' Andre McIntosh also has 12 catches for 248 yards, for a sterling per-catch average of 20.67.

Last year, EOU stayed close to Linfield until late in the third quarter, when the Wildcats exploded for 30 points in less than 13 minutes to win 51-14.

The game begins at 1:30 p.m. It will be broadcast on KCMB 104.7 FM.

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