Turnovers. Penalties. Struggles in the red zone.
Many of the items that have plagued Eastern Oregon throughout the season sprung up once again Saturday.
Despite rolling up 558 yards of offense, the Mountaineers turned the ball over twice inside the 5-yard-line and committed 11 penalties in a 38-20 loss to Frontier Conference foe College of Idaho at Community Stadium.
“I think you have to look at the red zone scoring opportunities (and us) being able to move the ball at will against them but just not capitalizing,” EOU head coach Tim Camp said. “That hurt us.”
The Coyotes, who completed a season sweep of Eastern Oregon, broke the game open in the second half due largely to its running game. Quarterback Darius Peterson, who ran for 99 yards, gashed the defense for a 58-yard score and a 24-10 lead with 6:27 to play in the third quarter. After a Nathan Harden field goal, Dominic Garzoli, who ran for 101 yards, went 78 yards for a 31-13 lead at the 1:30 mark of the third quarter. Nick Calzaretta put the game on ice with another TD run, this time a 24- lead at the 1:30 mark of the third quarter. Nick Calzaretta put the game on ice with another scoring run, this time a 24-yard score, for a 38-13 margin.
The Yotes finished with 336 yards rushing, and 473 total.
But while C of I pulled away in the latter stages, it was EOU’s self-inflicted wounds in the first half with that kept the Mountaineers from being in the game.
After a field goal on their first drive, the Mountaineers drove into the red zone looking for a 10-7 lead. But a penalty backed EOU up, and then Nate Moore jumped in front of a Kai Quinn pass for a pick at the goal line to kill the drive. A second drive, early in the second quarter, reached the 1-yard-line before the C of I defense stuffed Victor Dias on fourth-and-goal at the 1. And a third first-half drive was cut short when Nico Chavez caught a pass but fumbled at the 5-yard-line, which was recovered by Moore.
That negated Eastern’s second straight week of gaining more than 500 yards.
“Those are more (total yardage) numbers that I’m accustomed to around here. There’s things that, obviously, we’re doing correctly,” Camp said. “But again, you can have 560 yards of total offense, and (if) you score 20 points, it’s not enough. That’s where it goes back to the 2-of-5 in the red zone. That’s going to get you every time.”
Flags again cost the Mountaineers dearly as they racked up 132 penalty yards. One on the opening play of the game negated a successful onside kick recovery by EOU. Other untimely penalties extended a drive for the Coyotes or cost Eastern’s offense.
Camp said cleaning up the flags has been a point of emphasis throughout the season, and will be again going forward.
“We’ll continue to try and coach them up to get better,” he said. “Two weeks ago, we had six. A week ago, we had eight. That five to seven (range) is about right for a football game. At the same time being able to do those things more consistently is what we need to focus on (and) getting out of our own way.”
Camp felt for the most part EOU overcame the penalties, but couldn’t completely recover due to the red zone failure.
“We just have to be cleaner, have to be better. We have to finish,” he said.
EOU went into the half down 17-3 after the Yotes converted touchdowns on a Keegan Crafton 15-yard reception and a 24-yard run by Charlie Shepard.
Calvin Connors’ 18-yard scoring reception pulled the Mountaineers within 17-10 in the third before C of I took off.
Quinn finished 21-for-34 for 239 yards and added 84 yards rushing. Dias carried the ball 12 times for 72 yards and Connors had his best game of the season with nine catches for 118 yards.
EOU (2-6 overall, 2-6 Frontier) travels to Rocky Mountain Saturday.