The Eastern Oregon University football team found a way to win in Ashland again.
This time, it took some last-second heroics.
Kai Quinn shook off three first-half interceptions to throw for 270 yards and two touchdowns, including the game-winning 4-yard score to Saige Wilkerson with 10 seconds remaining, and the Mountaineers upset No. 20 Southern Oregon on the road, 24-21, Saturday in Frontier Conference play.
“The team showed a toughness and family aspect that is special, (and) we need to build on this,” head coach Tim Camp said. “(We need to) keep working on ways to improve what and how we do things.”
It was the second-straight time, and fifth time in the last seven years, that EOU knocked off its in-state rival on the road. The win also continued a trend in the small-school Civil War, as the road team is 11-3 in the last 14 meetings.
Eastern led much of the afternoon but fell behind 21-17 when SOU’s Wyatt Hutchinson scored on a 13-yard run with 10:30 to play in the game.
The Mountaineers’ next drive ended when they were stopped on fourth down, but they got one more chance with two minutes to play, and they took advantage.
EOU drove 70 yards in 10 plays on the winning drive, and twice converted a fourth down — once on a Quinn 14-yard pass to Josh Mendoza, and once on a SOU pass interference. Quinn then threw the winning strike to Wilkerson to complete the comeback and seal Eastern’s first win of the season.
The teams traded four first-quarter interceptions as they struggled to find their footing. EOU got rolling in the second, taking a 10-7 lead on a Kaler Moore 12-yard run and pushing the margin to 10 on Victor Dias’ 12-yard reception.
Jordan Suell hauled in a 33-yard scoring reception for SOU to cut the gap to 17-14 at the half, and the score held there until the fourth.
Quinn finished 27-for-49 passing. Wilkerson, who converted from quarterback to wide receiver ahead of the season, had seven catches for 65 yards. Conner Falk added five grabs for 55 yards.
The Mountaineers also won the ground-game battle. A week after allowing College of Idaho to amass 377 yards, EOU held Southern to just 96 yards rushing, and itself gained 151. Moore and Dias were the top rushers for EOU, with 53 and 45 yards, respectively.
Hutchinson was 19-for-30 for 177 yards for SOU and was also the Raiders’ top rusher with 64 yards. He was sacked four times — three times by Sage Delong, who had a team-best eight tackles. Zack Jacobs, meanwhile, had both interceptions. The total yardage allowed by Eastern (273 yards) was its fewest since allowing 280 against Montana Tech in a road game last fall.
EOU (1-1 overall, 1-1 Frontier) hosts Montana Tech in its home opener Saturday. The Orediggers (0-1, 0-1) are coming off a 28-14 loss to College of Idaho in their season opener.