THIRD-STRING QUARTERBACK TO START FOR MOUNTAINEERS

November 02, 2001 12:00 am

By Pat Perkins

Observer Staff Writer

Somebodys going to win.

Either the 0-7 Eastern Oregon Mountaineers or the 0-7 Puget Sound Loggers will get their first football win of the season Saturday.

The game starts at 1 p.m. in Tacoma.

If Eastern is to win, third-string quarterback Aaron Hazel will be the man to lead his team. First-stringer Mark Hanrahan is still nursing a knee injury, and second-stringer Ruben Villa, who started Saturdays game against Whitworth, suffered a concussion in that game.

Hes out this week for precautionary reasons, said Eastern Oregon coach Rob Cushman, a Puget Sound alum. His headaches are basically gone.

That leaves the game to Hazel. The sophomore replaced Villa late in the third quarter against Whitworth and led the team the final 35 yards for Easterns third touchdown of the night, a 4-yard run by the quarterback.

Easterns defense then allowed two touchdown passes by Whitworth, and the Mountaineers lost a heartbreaker, 21-20.

Hazel has taken plenty of snaps this week, and Cushman has confidence in him.

He did some things Saturday, having been thrown into the battle like that, Cushman said. Were just trying to sort through what he does best (and) getting him ready to go at that level.

When youre the third-team guy you just dont get much work in practice. We just havent had a chance to really work with him, but thats what this weeks all about.

Eastern will again have a backup starting at fullback, with freshman Brian Morriss replacing Mike Kyle, who is also the teams punter and is out with a knee injury. Morriss ran for 45 yards against Whitworth.

Wide receiver Phil Nyby will punt this week, but he has a sore knee, too, so Hazel could get the call.

A lot of players are playing hurt this time of year, but Eastern has taken hits at key positions. Even so, Cushman likes the depth that his team has.

We didnt miss much when guys went in to fill some roles, Cushman said. You didnt even sense that we had all those injuries.

Puget Sound has had injuries as well. The Loggers running game has had one good game this season, but they present a solid defensive front and have been able to throw the ball effectively at times, Cushman said.

Predictably, Cushman thinks he has the better team.

Weve played much better more often than they have, but then again that doesnt mean anything, he said. Ive had a lot of other teams that have won more games that havent played as well as this team.