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EOUís Mahonri Bostrom secures the ball during practice. The Mountaineers take on MSU-Northern Saturday. (Casey Kellas/The Observer)
The Eastern Oregon University football team has won five straight games against Montana State-Northern, including picking up its first win of the 2010 season against the Lights.
The Mountaineers (0-2, 0-1) will try to get its first win of 2013 when they travel to Havre, Mont., Saturday for a showdown with MSU-Northern (1-1, 1-1) at noon PST.
The Mountaineers are coming off a 23-7 loss to Montana Tech last week. Head coach Tim Camp said Eastern Oregon needs to improve in one important area for a win Saturday.
“Making plays, obviously,” Camp said. “The ability to make plays is what we need to be great at. We got the guys to do it. It’s just a matter of syncing up and making sure we’re on the same page the whole time.”
EOU finished with just 223 yards of offense last week. Three different quarterbacks took snaps behind center, led by junior Dominique Blackman, who finished 14-for-30 for 98 yards and two interceptions. T.J. Esekielu and Zach Bartlow also played.
Camp said he is hoping for more stability at the quarterback position this week.
“We gotta settle that down a little bit,” Camp said. “But each one of them does something just a little bit different. But they’re all very good quarterbacks.”
Camp said there is one quarterback whose skill set he likes against the Lights’ defense, but he wasn’t willing to say who.
“Whoever we put out there will give us a chance to win,” Camp said.
EOU did have its first 100-yard rusher since Week 10 of the 2011 season last week. Chris McGinnis-Parker rushed for 105 yards on 18 carries and scored the Mountaineers’ only touchdown.
“I’m very pleased with the running backs,” Camp said. “I think they block well. I think they do a good job of carrying the football. Production-wise I’d like to see them in a few more checkdowns.”
Montana State-Northern has had its own problems on offense this season.
Senior quarterback Derek Lear, who was a second-team all-Frontier Conference
That forced the Lights to play sophomore Tyler Dean, who completed 18-of-38 passes for 209 yards and two interceptions in a 31-3 loss to No. 12 Carroll College last week.
Camp said he didn’t know the status of Lear for Saturday’s game, but that the Mountaineers better be ready no matter who lines up under center.
“I certainly hope (Derek) is OK,” Camp said. “He’s a very good player, and I like to play against their very best. But I know Coach (Mark) Samson — if Derek doesn’t play — will have their backup ready.”
The Mountaineers have won by an average margin of 11 points per game in the last five victories over MSU-Northern.
“I think we match up well with everyone in the conference,” Camp said. “I think every time we’ve put the kids in a position to be successful, they’ve made plays.
“I think that was no different last week, and it’s not going to be any different this week. We just gotta be able to make the plays that are out there.”
Kickoff is scheduled for noon Saturday and the game can be listened to live on 103.1 FM in La Grande.
Other games taking place in the Frontier Conference Saturday include No. 7 Montana Tech at No. 12 Carroll College and Montana Western at Dickinson State.
The Mountaineers return to Community Stadium Sept. 21 for a showdown with