ASHLAND — What looked like a possible early blowout by the offense became a stirring comeback by the defense as the Black team defeated the White team 54-40 in Southern Oregon's spring football game Friday night at Raider Stadium.
With the full squad split into an offensive unit (White) and a defensive unit (Black), a unique scoring system awarded points to the defense for stops, three-and-outs and turnovers forced. Meanwhile the offense received points based on scores, PATs, field goals and consecutive first downs.
The offense scored on each of its first two drives, as Austin Dodge completed a 28-yard touchdown pass to former South Medford standout Matt Retzlaff to cap the 70-yard drive. Dodge finished the game with 163 yards passing with one scoring pass and one interception, nearly identical numbers to Chris Kammel, from Phoenix High, for the White team. Melvin Mason finished with a game-high 48 yards rushing and a touchdown, while Teran Togia also rushed for a score in the game.
Two drives into the game the White team had a 13-0 lead, and midway through the second half the offense led 29-5. From that point the defense took over. Back-to-back turnovers gave the Black team 14 points — seven for each turnover forced — to pull within 29-17 at the brief halftime break.
With a running clock throughout the second half, the defense stepped up. The White team scored the first six points of the third quarter to pull back up by 17, but the Black team turned it around with 37 consecutive points. The defense forced turnovers on four of the next five drives, with the fifth a three-and-out that netted three points.
The play of the game was a 13-point play for the Black team, as Brian Keathley busted through the line and recovered a fumble on the 35-yard line. With several defenders around him to serve as blockers, Keathly returned the fumble all the way to the end zone, garnering seven points for the forced turnover and another six for the touchdown to turn a 34-24 deficit into a 37-34 lead. A late touchdown by the offense established the final score of 54-40.
The fifth-annual Raider Red Zone Golf Shootout is scheduled for today, with alumni and fans joining the tournament at Eagle Point Golf Course. The fifth-ranked Southern Oregon football team officially opens the 2013 season Aug. 31 with the Kickoff Classic against Frontier Conference foe Rocky Mountain at Mel Ingram Stadium in Grants Pass.