November 02, 2003 11:00 pm
BACK IN ACTION: Eastern Oregon's Aaron Hazel looks to pass against Whitworth Saturday. He threw a touchdown pass on the Mountaineers' first series of the game. Eastern Oregon defeated Whitworth 21-14. (The Observer/RAENELLE KWOCK).
BACK IN ACTION: Eastern Oregon's Aaron Hazel looks to pass against Whitworth Saturday. He threw a touchdown pass on the Mountaineers' first series of the game. Eastern Oregon defeated Whitworth 21-14. (The Observer/RAENELLE KWOCK).

By Raenelle Kwock

Observer Staff Writer

Damien Johnson's 1-yard dive into the end zone with 15 seconds left in regulation was the go-ahead and game-winning touchdown in Eastern Oregon's 21-14 victory over Whitworth Saturday evening in frigid conditions.

"It feels great," Johnson said. The (offensive) line was opening holes."

The victory snapped the Mountaineers' three-game losing streak and was their first win this year over an NCAA III opponent.

Johnson carried the ball 37 times for 143 yards. He came in after starting running back Justin Alsterlund left with an injury after the Mountaineers' first series.

"The line was phenomenal," Johnson said.

The winning drive began with 4:56 remaining at the Mountaineer 47-yard line, with Eastern trailing 14-13. Scott Jensen opened the drive by finding Johnson for a 9-yard completion on first down.

Jensen picked up the first down on a 1-yard run and later in the drive, facing a third-and-one at the Pirates' 31, Johnson found some running room for a three-yard gain keeping the drive going.

Johnson would continue running at the Pirate defense for the rest of the drive.

With 42 seconds remaining, Johnson broke off for a 10-yard run from the Pirate 11 to set up a first-and-goal. Johnson's dive from one yard out capped off the 10-play, 53-yard drive.

Brett Richards caught a pass from Jensen in the back of the end zone for a two-point conversion.

Eastern coach Jim Fenwick said he was thinking about setting up for a field goal during the drive, but the players told him they were going to go all the way into the end zone.

"We had a great game plan," Johnson said. "Our line stepped it up."

Nick Martin's kickoff after Johnson's touchdown was fielded by the Pirates' Billy Condon, who handed it off to Matt Tippon. Trying to imitate the "Music City Miracle" of a few years ago, Tippon threw a lateral pass across the field to Jared Thomas, who was stopped by Eastern's Josh Thorn at Whitworth's 19-yard line with nine seconds left.

With nine seconds remaining, quarterback Joel Clark threw a pass to Condon, who tossed it back to Clark who was trailing the pass for an unusual hook-and-ladder play, but Eastern's Pard Smith tackled Clark at the Pirates' 36 and the game was over.

The Mountaineers grabbed a 7-0 lead off their first series in the first quarter when Aaron Hazel threw a 7-yard TD pass to TaShawn Dickerson.

In the second quarter, the Pirates' Daniel Jones picked off Hazel's pass at the Mountaineers' 2-yard line and ran it in for a touchdown. Cam Collings' kick failed, leaving the score at 7-6.

Billy Condon ran in a 1-yard TD for the Pirates and the Pirates passed for two points to take a 14-7 lead at the half.

The Mountaineers turned the ball over on downs to open the third quarter.

The Pirates got the ball at their own 28-yard line. A pass interference penalty on third down kept the drive alive. The Pirates made it to the Mountaineers' 17-yard line and set up for a Collings' 34-yard field goal attempt.

The attempt was blocked by the Mountaineers' Stephen Stokes who ran it back 44 yards to the Pirate 32-yard line.

The Mountaineers then put together an 11-play drive culminating in a 1-yard TD run by Johnson. Martin's kick failed leaving the score 14-13.

Both teams traded series in the fourth quarter until the Mountaineers had one final shot to win the game.

Fenwick said the Mountaineers have gone through a couple tough weeks and they talked about wanting to win Saturday's game. He said the Mountaineers showed class in coming from behind and played hard.

Eastern's Hazel was 7-for-18 passing for 85 yards with one interception, while Jensen was 6-for-10 passing for 76 yards and one interception.

Eastern's Matt Hamlin had nine receptions for 99 yards. Stokes led the Mountaineer defense with nine tackles.

The Pirates' Condon rushed 21 times for 135 yards. Clark threw for 105 yards on 11-for-25 passing.

The Mountaineers (3-5 overall) travel to Tacoma to take on University of Puget Sound Saturday.

Whitworth 0 14 0 0 — 14

Eastern Oregon 7 0 6 8 — 21

First quarter

EO — TaShawn Dickerson 7 pass from Aaron Hazel (Nick Martin kick), 7:56

Second quarter

W — Daniel Jones 2 INT return, 13:00

W — Billy Condon 1 run (Joel Clark pass from), 5:59

Third quarter

EO — Damien Johnson 1 run (kick failed), 00:31

Fourth quarter

EO — Johnson 1 run (Brett Richards pass from Scott Jensen), 00:15


First downs 11 20

Rushes-yards 27-140 51-162

Passing yards 105 161

Comp-att-int 11-25 13-28-2

Punts 8-35.5 6-34.7

Fumbles-lost 1-0 1-0

Punt returns-yards 3-7 3-10

Kickoff returns-yards 4-57 3-66

Penalties-yards 9-70 9-100

Third-down conversions 3 of 12 6 of 18

Fourth-down conversions 0 of 0 3 of 4

Sacks by–yards lost 3-24 0-0

Time of possession 23:28 36:32

Individual statistics

RUSHING — Whitworth, Condon 21-135, Clark 3-9, Jared Thomas 2-(minus 1), Team 1-(minus 3). Eastern Oregon, Johnson 37-143, Jensen 4-14, Cameron Ketner 2-9, Justin Alsterlund 1-8, Jimmy Hoffman 1-3, Major Caldwell 1-3, Hazel 5-(minus 18).

PASSING — Whitworth, Clark 11-25-0-105. Eastern Oregon, Hazel 7-18-1-85, Jensen 6-10-1-76.

RECEIVING — Dwayne Tawney 5-42, Thomas 4-43, Condon 2-7, Clark 0-13. Eastern Oregon, Matt Hamlin 9-99, Andre McIntosh 1-34, Alsterlund 1-12, Johnson 1-9, Dickerson 1-7.

LEADING TACKLERS — Whitworth, Jeremy Scroggins 12, Nick Portrey 11, Matt Krueger 11, Jones 10, Austin Neale 10, Mel Leary 10, Kynan Pang 9, Jeff Riddell 9, Austin Richard 8. Eastern Oregon, Stephen Stokes 9, Nick Hannah 8, Cam Christensen 7, Ricky Guzman 7, Pat Birkby 5, Mark Persche 5, Shane Olesen 5, John Schumacher 5, Eli Thornley 3.

MISSED FIELD GOALS — Whitworth, Cam Collings 34.