LA GRANDE — Since the College of Idaho reinstated football in 2014, the Yotes have been a tough test for Eastern Oregon.
The two teams have met each of the last 18 seasons the College of Idaho has fielded a football program, with the Caldwell, Idaho, school holding a 33-13-1 all-time series lead, including an 8-5 mark since football returned in 2014. Eastern Oregon won the first two games after the resumption of the series, but has since gone 3-8, including four straight loses.
“In the Frontier Conference, anybody can beat anybody and anybody can lose to anybody,” EOU head coach Tim Camp said. “We just have to be us. They have some very talented players, but at the same time so do we.”
The two teams meet again at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 25, at Community Stadium in La Grande.
Eastern is coming off a low-scoring 10-7 victory at Carroll College that improved the team’s record to 3-0 and helped the Mountaineers climb up to No. 11 in this week’s National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics coaches’ poll. The Yotes enter the matchup 2-1 on the year, receiving 16 votes in the latest poll.
“We’re super excited about it, but have a lot to improve on,” Camp said.
The Mountaineers have won each of their games by one possession through the undefeated start to the season. After a scoreless first half, quarterback Kai Quinn scored the lone offensive touchdown of the game on a 13-yard strike to Isaiah Thomas in the third quarter.
Eastern’s defense was efficient, holding the Saints to just 216 yards and no offensive touchdowns. The defensive unit will look for similar production facing a College of Idaho team that is averaging 33.7 points and 257.7 rushing yards per game.
“I think they have one of the best backs in football,” Camp said. “We have to line up and play solid assignment football.”
Eastern’s kicker Zachary Cahill has been a difference maker. He took home special teams player of the week honors in the Frontier Conference following his steady performance in the narrow win at Carroll College. Cahill scored a 30-yard field goal and converted his only extra-point attempt in the victory. This is the second time this season Cahill has earned the honors during a season where he has converted all five of his field goal attempts to date.
Yotes running back Nick Calzaretta has tallied 381 yards and five touchdowns across College of Idaho’s three games this year. EOU linebacker Solo Taylor, the team’s leader in tackles, will have his hands full aiding the defensive line in stopping the run.
The Mountaineers stifled the pass against Carroll College, sacking quarterback Devan Bridgewater seven times. Senior defensive end Chase Van Wyck will look to carry the momentum of his two-sack performance into Saturday’s action against the Yotes.
The Mountaineers are 3-4 all time at home since 2014 against the Yotes and will aim to improve that number at Community Stadium. Eastern has not started the season 4-0 since the 2011 season, when the team finished the year 8-3.