Raiders in search of road breakthrough

Southern Oregon travels to play at MSU-Northern in Frontier matchup

ASHLAND — They've already proven that they can win, and win big, at Raider Stadium. Now, the Southern Oregon Raiders want to show the rest of the Frontier Conference that their don't-blink-or-you'll-miss-something show can also succeed on the road.

SOU's next chance comes today in Havre, Mont., where the Raiders will face the Montana State University-Northern Lights at 11:30 a.m. Pacific at Blue Poney Stadium.

Raider fans can follow the action with live stats and video through links at souraiders.com.

Southern Oregon improved to 3-2 last weekend with a 68-22 win over No. 24 Eastern Oregon. The Raiders set program records for total yards (706), passing yards (611) and points (68) while extending their home win streak to seven games. But this week provides a new test.

"We've got a rule that we put that game away," SOU head coach Craig Howard said. "We can't take any of those points or records with us into the next game."

Midway through the season, Southern Oregon's offense is on an historic pace. The Raiders lead the nation in points (48.4 per game), passing offense (408.4 yards per game), total offense (610.4), first downs (30.6 per game) and sacks given up (two). Southern Oregon's 51.6 third-down conversion percentage ranks third.

Quarterback Austin Dodge, last week's NAIA offensive player of the week, leads the nation in passing (372 yards per game) and total offense (384.4) and is tied for second with 17 touchdown passes. Cole McKenzie ranks second in receiving, while fellow receiver Patrick Donahue ranks seventh in all-purpose yards and Mike Olson ranks eighth in scoring (10 points per game).

Kicker Colin Amsler leads the NAIA in per-game kick scoring.

Montana State-Northern comes into today's game with a 2-3 record, winning its past two games at home against Montana Western (46-39) and Rocky Mountain (42-19) after losing its first three games to Carroll, Eastern Oregon and Dickinson State.

The Lights' offense averages 470 yards per game. Quarterback Derek Lear has thrown for 1,319 yards with 15 touchdowns and six interceptions while completing 66 percent of his passes. He's also rushed for 241 yards, averaging almost 50 per game.

Stephen Silva leads the team in rushing with 527 yards and four touchdowns on 89 carries to rank 11th in the nation (105.4 yards per game).

"Northern presents a big challenge for us," Howard said. "We've got to prepare well. We've never been there so it's all a new experience for us."

Today's game will mark the sixth meeting between the two teams and the first since 2004. The Raiders are 5-0 in their previous matchups against the Lights, as the teams faced off every season from 2000-04. Four of those games were blowout wins for SOU, which has outscored the Lights 210-34 in the series.


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