EOU Kai Quinn vs. Rocky Mountain 2021

Quarterback Kai Quinn prepares to receive a snap during Eastern Oregon’s 34-17 loss to Rocky Mountain on Saturday, Oct. 9, 2021. The senior led the Mountaineers to a 14-10 victory in the season finale against Southern Oregon on Nov. 13.

LA GRANDE — It has been a brutal season for the Eastern Oregon University football team, but things ended on a high note in the final game of the year.

The Mountaineers defeated the Raiders 14-10 on a last-second touchdown to end a six-game losing streak and send its seniors out with a victory in their final game in blue and gold. Senior quarterback Kai Quinn came away with a flawless game-winning drive to cement his legacy at Eastern.

It was another low-scoring affair, with Eastern’s defense making several key stops throughout the matchup.

The game was scoreless through the first quarter, but a 12-yard touchdown pass from SOU quarterback Blake Asciutto to Ben Graziani put the Raiders up 7-0 just seconds into the second quarter.

Eastern’s defense kept the team in contention midway through the second quarter, when redshirt-freshman Blaine Chavez intercepted Asciutto deep in EOU territory. Just when it looked like Eastern might tie the game thanks to a deep completion to the SOU two-yard line by senior Isaiah Thomas, the drive eventually stalled. Kicker Zachary Cahill missed from short range in a windy afternoon game as the Mountaineers remained scoreless.

The Mountaineers were unable to find the end zone in the first half as Southern went into halftime leading 7-0.

Midway through the third quarter, Quinn took matters into his own hands with an eight-yard touchdown run to tie the game. The touchdown moved Quinn into a tie for second place in the EOU record book for all-time rushing touchdowns. It was an impressive drive by the Mountaineers that started at their own 10-yard line and resulted in the team’s first touchdown of the day.

With 6:26 to go in the third, Southern added a 37-yard field goal to take a 10-7 lead. This scoreline would stand for nearly the remainder of the game as both teams struggled to get much offensive production.

Southern controlled possession late in the fourth quarter and looked to run the clock out efficiently. However, a huge stop by Eastern’s defense kept the game alive with just one minute left in regulation. The Mountaineers took over at their own 10-yard line with 53 seconds remaining as Quinn and the seniors on the team looked for a legacy-defining drive.

Quinn looked composed and efficient in a textbook game-winning drive. He completed three straight passes to move the ball to the Southern 40-yard line with 23 seconds remaining. A 20-yard run by Quinn to the Southern 20-yard line set up the Mountaineers in field goal range with just nine second remaining.

With just one play left before having to take the field goal attempt, Quinn aired out a perfect pass down the center of the field to Sage Wilkerson for six points. Eastern’s sideline erupted as the Mountaineers gained an improbable 14-10 lead with just three seconds remaining. The Mountaineers held off a Hail Mary attempt on the ensuing drive and stormed the field after a gutsy victory in a rivalry game.

While Quinn’s season has had its ups and downs, the game-winning drive over Southern is certainly a legacy moment that fans around La Grande will not forget. He finished the game with 284 passing yards, 65 rushing yards and one passing touchdown. Thomas shined in his final game in La Grande, hauling in 147 receiving yards. Senior Chase Van Wyck recorded three tackles for loss and seven tackles.

Eastern concluded its season 4-6 overall and tied for fifth in the Frontier Conference. After a 3-0 start to the season, the Mountaineers lost six straight gut-wrenching games. While the victory over Southern Oregon will not change the fact that the team’s season ends with a losing record, it is a definitive high note to end the year on.

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