Eastern Oregon University quarterback Dominique Blackman made his Mountaineer debut Saturday. The junior finished 14-for-30 for 98 yards. (Casey Kellas/The Observer)
EOU offense has hard time in 23-7 loss to No. 7 Montana Tech in home opener
The defense did its part for the Eastern Oregon University football team Saturday. But the offense had a lackluster performance in a 23-7 loss to No. 7 Montana Tech at Community Stadium.
“We were too up and down,” EOU head coach Tim Camp said. “The defense I thought did some really good things. Offensively, as I told the team in the locker room, we were put up in a lot of positions to be able to move forward. We were too inconsistent at certain positions.”
The Mountaineers finished with just 223 yards of total offense, while the Orediggers finished with 412 yards.
Quarterback Dominique Blackman, who transferred from the University of Idaho, made his debut for the Mountaineers (0-2, 0-1) Saturday. But the 6-foot-5, 257-pound junior struggled throughout the game, finishing 14-for-30 for 98 yards and two interceptions.
He rushed for seven yards on 16 attempts.
“I prepared,” Blackman said. “I prepared myself. That’s the one thing I can say. I tried to prepare our offense with what the coaches had given us. We have a big saying. ‘They’ll give us the how to, we gotta give the want to.’ I don’t feel like me as an individual I gave the amount of want to that I wanted to (give).”
Blackman said he had been battling the flu most of the week, and he sat out the majority of the second quarter while trying to cool down.
“I caught a fever,” Blackman said. “I’m still making the transition coming from California to here. The air is so much cleaner. But I gotta learn to ignore that. I let my team down by missing four or five drives.”
Both T.J. Esekielu and Zach Bartlow also saw snaps behind center. Esekielu finished 2-for-5 for three yards. Bartlow threw for seven yards on two
Eastern Oregon did strike first Saturday, scoring on its second drive of the game. Blackman marched the team 80 yards in 12 plays.
It looked like the Mountaineers got on the board on a 22-yard touchdown pass from Blackman to Justin Hernandez.
But the play was called off due to an ineligible man downfield.
A couple plays later, Chris McGinnis-Parker found the end zone from 6 yards out to give EOU a 7-0 lead.
But early in the second quarter, the Orediggers responded. Quarterback Herman Tapley connected with Zach Kinney from 29 yards out to tie the game.
“We did a lot of scouting,” said EOU linebacker Ryan Watson, who had 11 tackles and an interception. “They have a new offensive coordinator, so at first we weren’t certain what they were going to run. We knew they were going to come in with a fast-paced tempo. They did a lot of bubble screens. A lot of inside-zone. Nothing spectacular that we weren’t expecting. They just played well.”
After that it was all about missed opportunities for the Mountaineers.
The next three drives of the first half ended with two punts and an interception.
Montana Tech (1-0, 1-0) got two field goals in the final three minutes of the half to take a 13-7 lead into the locker room at the half.
But Eastern Oregon could never get going in the second half, putting a couple of promising drives together only to stall out in the end.
Montana Tech opened the third quarter with a 37-yard field goal to make it 16-7.
But the real killer was when Blackman threw his second interception of the game that Andre Cornell returned for a touchdown to make it 23-7 for the final score of the game.
“We’d sputter,” Camp said of the offense. “No excuses. We gotta be better. I think it’s a mixture of some new people in certain areas and youth. But at the same time, we are better than how we performed today
McGinnis-Parker finished with 104 yards rushing on 18 carries. Hernandez had four grabs for 55 yards, while Jace Billingsly had 17 yards on four catches.
Montana Tech was led by Pat Hansen, who rushed for 180 yards on 28 carries. Tapley completed 31-of-44 passes for 217 yards and a score.
EOU will look for its first win of the season Saturday when it travels to Havre, Mont., for a showdown with Montana State-Northern. The Lights are 1-1 this season after losing to Carroll College 31-3 Saturday.