October 14, 2001 11:00 pm

By The Observer

McMINNVILLE Another opportunity slipped away Saturday from the Eastern Oregon Mountaineers.

Linfield got two touchdowns from David Russell and made a three-touchdown lead stick in a 21-13 small-college football victory at Maxwell Field.

Eastern had its chances to score, but a botched field goal here, a holding penalty there, gave the Mountaineers their fifth loss in five games this season, 10 in a row dating back to last year.

We didnt get the ball in the end zone a couple times when we should have and ultimately thats what cost the game, Eastern Oregon coach Rob Cushman said.

Overall, this was the best weve played all year, he added. The guys battled and scrapped and did the things youve got to do to give yourself a chance to win.

Linfield (3-2) kept Easterns offense out of the end zone for the first three quarters. Easterns first score, after Linfield had taken a 21-0 lead, was on a 57-yard interception return by defensive lineman Eli Thornley.

That play just about turned the game around. When the Mountaineer offense got the ball back, backup quarterback Ruben Villa, who replaced starter Mark Hanrahan in the third quarter, led his team deep into Linfield territory. A holding penalty pushed Eastern (0-5) back 10 yards, and then a bad snap forced holder Hanrahan to run with the ball and fall short of a first down at Linfields 4.

Villa led a touchdown drive the next time around, with Joey Allard running in from 1 yard out. But Gabe Minthorn missed the extra point kick and Eastern was eight behind.

Minthorn has missed five of nine extra point kicks this season.

The kicking game is a problem, Cushman said. Weve got to correct that.

The punting game had problems, too, with punter/fullback Mike Kyle hyperextending a knee and handing over punting duties to wide receiver Phil Nyby. Combined, they averaged 27 yards per punt.

Villa came into the game because hes a better passer than Hanrahan, Cushman said, and Eastern needed to pass to come back from its 21-0 deficit. Villa was 4-for-11 for 33 yards, while Hanrahan was 3-for-6 for 23 yards.

Linfield started the game by marching down the field in five plays and scoring on a Marty Williams 1-yard run.

We couldnt have stopped a marching band on that first series, Cushman said.

After that, the Mountaineer defense regrouped. It gave up a couple of big plays by Russell, the first being a 24-yard touchdown from Tyler Matthews in the second quarter. Russell added a 31-yard run in the third quarter.

The defense just did a whale of a job, Cushman said. Sven Wilson had a great ballgame and Brian Moore did some real great things coming off the edge, like he always does.

Eastern Oregon 0 0 7 6 13

Linfield 7 7 7 0 21

First quarter

L Marty Williams 1 run (Ryan Cruz kick), 13:21

Second quarter

L David Russell 24 pass from Tyler Matthews (Cruz kick), 8:59

Third quarter

L Russell 31 run (Cruz kick), 5:32

EO Eli Thornley 57 interception return (Gabe Minthorn kick), 2:31

Fourth quarter

EO Joey Allard 1 run (kick failed), 6:03

A 1,700


First downs 16 18

Rushes-yards 59-241 43-248

Passing yards 62 124

Comp-att-int 8-18-0 13-21-1

Punts 5-27.4 7-35.0

Fumbles-lost 3-2 1-0

Punt returns-yards 6-40 4-45

Kickoff returns-yards 4-84 3-50

Penalties-yards 4-41 6-49

Third-down conversions 5 of 19 0 of 11

Fourth-down conversions 3 of 6 2 of 3

Sacks byyards lost 1-8 2-14

Time of possession 33:29 26:31

Individual statistics

RUSHING Eastern Oregon, Hamlin 13-82, Kyle 11-75, Hanrahan 14-30, Villa 6-19, Geske 7-17, Allard 3-8, Morriss 2-6, Davidson 3-4. Linfield, Russell 13-87, Williams 17-74, Hubbard 6-69, Cooney 3-32, Matthews 4-(minus 14).

PASSING Eastern Oregon, Villa 4-11-0-33, Hanrahan 3-6-0-23, Hamlin 1-1-0-6. Linfield, Matthews 12-20-1-101, Hubbard 1-1-0-23.

RECEIVING Eastern Oregon, Nyby 4-33, Hannah 1-13, Geske 1-8, Villa 1-6, Hanrahan 1-2. Linfield, Hubbard 4-19, Cooney 2-21, Carter 2-15, Wood 2-14, Russell 1-24, Buchheit 1-23, Armstrong 1-8.

TACKLES FOR LOSSES Eastern Oregon, Boggs 1-8, Pritchett 1-3, Moore 1-2, Van 1-1, Wilson 1-1, Jorgensen 1-0. Linfield, Bertsch 2-8, Gaspar 2-2, Potter 1-7, Sackman 1-7, Hillison 1-3, Boatsman 1-2, Lions 1-2, Bacus 1-0.

INTERCEPTIONS Eastern Oregon, Thornley 1-57.

MISSED FIELD GOALS Eastern Oregon, Minthorn 37. Linfield, Cruz 40, 29.