EASTERN COMES HOME AFTER LONG HIATUS

October 03, 2003 11:00 pm
GOING DOWNFIELD: Eastern's Aaron Hazel will be looking to get the Mountaineers back on the  winning track after two straight frustrating losses. (The Observer/PIERRE LaBOSSIERE).
GOING DOWNFIELD: Eastern's Aaron Hazel will be looking to get the Mountaineers back on the winning track after two straight frustrating losses. (The Observer/PIERRE LaBOSSIERE).

The Eastern Oregon Mountaineers come home to Community Stadium Saturday, looking to get rid of the sour taste of a two-game losing streak.

Eastern Oregon will play Montana Tech, a team looking for its first win of the year.

After a season-opening road upset over Montana-Western, Eastern followed up with two frustrating losses — 24-21 at home to Menlo College and 29-12 in Salem to Willamette two weeks ago. Eastern was winning the Willamette game in the second half and held a lead against Menlo in the fourth quarter.

The Mountaineers took a break from play last weekend.

Montana Tech is 0-4, but the OreDiggers have had a rollercoaster season. They started the season with an impressive effort, losing to Carroll College, the No. 1-ranked NAIA team in the nation. It took Carroll College two overtimes to finally fend off Tech 19-16.

Since that game, Tech has struggled. The OreDiggers lost 20-3 to Whitworth, 49-14 to Div. 1-AA Weber State and, in a bit of an upset, 29-22 to Montana-Northern. For what it is worth, Montana-Northern lost a game 48-7 to Eastern's opening-game victim, Montana-Western.

After the Carroll loss, Tech lost its starting quarterback, Aaron Johnson, with a broken arm. The OreDiggers have been starting a freshman QB, Jake Hill. Hill did throw for 265 yards in the Montana-Northern game.

Eastern has been led by quarterback Aaron Hazel, who is 53-for-99 for 542 yards. The Mountaineers also have been pummeling teams with a one-two punch of Major Caldwell and Justin Alsterlund. The two offensive stars have combined to average nearly 110 yards a game on the ground.

Caldwell has gained 236 yards on 47 carries for a 5.0 per-carry average, while Alsterlund has carried 15 times for 92 yards for a 6.2-per-carry average.

Last year, Montana Tech beat Eastern 48-26 in Butte, Mont.

The game begins at 1 p.m. and will be broadcast on 104.7 FM KCMB.