By Travis Rae, Eastern Oregon Sports Information Director
LA GRANDE, Ore. – Eastern Oregon football used a fourth quarter comeback to claim its first victory of the season with a 35-31 upset victory over No. 3 Carroll (Mont.) Saturday afternoon. Chris McGinnis-Parker had a career day for the Mountaineers, scoring four touchdowns and rushing for 187 yards on 31 carries.
Carroll jumped out to the early lead in the first quarter, as the Fighting Saints marched the ball down the field on its opening drive. Carroll took five minutes and 30 seconds off the clock with a 15-play drive covering 80 yards. Dustin Rinker capped the drive with a one-yard touchdown run putting Carroll up 7-0.
The Fighting Saints extended its lead to 14-0 in the second quarter on its opening possession. Carroll marched the ball down the field covering 80 yards on 16 plays. Carroll's quarterback Dakota Stonehouse capped the drive with a 13-yard rushing touchdown.
The Mountaineers answered right back on the next possession, as they went 70 yards on 14 plays. Dominique Blackmon found Alexander Miles for a seven-yard gain to put EOU on the Fighting Saints 16-yard line. On the next play, Chris McGinnis-Parker scored his first touchdown of the day with a 16-yard rush cutting the Fighting Saints lead to 14-7.
Right before halftime Carroll added a 36-yard field goal to extend its lead to 17-7.
Carroll's first possession of the second half, the Fighting Saints added to their lead. Stonehouse found Jared Mayernik for an 11-yard touchdown extending its advantage to 24-7 over the Mountaineers.
The Mountaineers answered right back with a touchdown on its next possession. Blackman marched the team down the field and capped the drive off by himself with a seven yard touchdown run to cut the Fighting Saints lead to 10, 24-14. However, Carroll answered with its own touchdown the following drive on a seven-yard run by Rinker to put Carroll ahead, 31-14.
Eastern Oregon started its comeback early in the fourth quarter. TJ Esekielu came and and rushed for 10 yards to get down to the 23-yard line of Carroll. The next play Blackman found Jace Billingsley for a 12-yard gain. McGinnis-Parker finished finished the drive off by rushing for 15 yards on two carries for his second score of the game, trimming the Fighting Saints lead to 31-21.
Carroll looked to be moving the ball on the following drive as they ran two plays for 18 yards. However, after those two plays EOU's defense locked down and forced Carroll to punt.
EOU continued to trim Carroll's lead as a drive that featured two key fourth down conversions. Blackman found Billingsley on a key fourth and seven for a 10-yard gain to keep the drive alive for EOU. On the Mountaineers next three plays, EOU lost three yards and had a fourth and 13 and for the second-straight fourth down in a row, Blackman found Billingsley. Billingsley went 46 yards on the reception. On the very next play McGinnis-Parker went four yards for his third touchdown of the game putting EOU down three, 31-28.
With 2:20 left in the game, EOU went for the onside kick. It looked like the ball was going out of bounce, however, Tyson Fernstrom came out of nowhere to recover the kick and give Eastern Oregon the ball. Eastern Oregon continued to move the ball down the field and on a third-and-six, Blackman found McGinnis-Parker out of the backfield. McGinnis-Parker went 19 yards for his forth score of the day and to give EOU a 35-31 lead.
With four seconds left Carroll tried one last second heave to the end zone that fell out of everyone's reach and EOU came away with a 35-31 upset of No. 3 Carroll.
Eastern Oregon concludes its three game home stand next week when the Mountaineers host University of Montana Western for homecoming. Kick-off is set for 1 p.m. PT.