Observer staff

A 14-point first-quarter deficit and four lost fumbles were too much for the 11th-ranked Eastern Oregon football team to overcome in a 28-20 loss to Frontier Conference foe College of Idaho Saturday in Caldwell, Idaho.

The Mountaineers found themselves in a hole right out of the gate. C of I scored on a Mike Kirby four-yard run and an 18-yard reception by Jack Hogeboom for a 14-0 lead in the first quarter.

Two Nathan Harden field goals — including a career long of 45 yards — around a Victor Dias three-yard touchdown run pulled the Mountaineers within 14-13 after three quarters. But Kirby’s second touchdown of the game, this time from six yards out, early in the fourth quarter gave the Yotes an eight-point lead. After an EOU turnover, Darius Peterson, who rushed for 105 yards, scored from a yard out to cap an eight-play drive for a 28-13 lead.

Brenden Kelly hauled in a 28-yard TD pass from Kai Quinn with 2:12 to play to keep Eastern’s hopes alive, but EOU couldn’t find enough offense late.

A week after posting their third-highest rushing total under Tim Camp, EOU was held to 148 yards on the ground. Dias led the ground game for Eastern with 67 yards. Quinn was 17-for-32 for 200 yards with a touchdown. Kelly had six catches for 83 yards to lead the receivers.

But Quinn, John Lesser and T.J. Hancock all lost fumbles for Eastern, which lost the turnover battle for the third time this season. EOU has already lost six fumbles in three games this season after losing just eight in 13 games last fall.

EOU’s secondary did record two interceptions — one by Anfernee Cortez and one by Haziel Ledezma. But Eastern struggled to stop a balanced C of I offensive attack that finished with 440 yards — 220 rushing and 220 passing. Peterson, in addition to leading the Yotes in rushing, was 6-for-10 passing for 143 yards.

Eastern (1-2 overall, 1-2 Frontier) travels to Butte, Montana, Saturday to face fifth-ranked and undefeated Montana Tech.