SACRAMENTO, Calif. — That eye-popping offense the Southern Oregon University football team has been searching for was recovered in the most unlikely of places Saturday night: on the field of an NCAA Division I opponent.
The Raiders traded jabs with Sacramento State, a member of the Big Sky Conference, and even appeared to land a knockout blow when Melvin Mason's 59-yard touchdown run gave them the lead with 1 minute, 48 seconds remaining. But the Hornets recovered, tying the game with one second left in regulation and winning in overtime, 63-56, at Hornets Stadium.
Quarterback Garrett Safron hooked up with receiver DeAndre Carter for five touchdown passes, including two late to stave off the upset. Safron led the Hornets (1-2) on a 75-yard drive at the end of regulation and polished it off after a costly pass interference penalty with a 6-yard find of Carter, then hit him from 14 yards out on the first possession of overtime for the decisive score.
The Raiders dropped to 0-3 going into next Saturday's Frontier Conference clash at Eastern Oregon. All three of the Raiders' losses this season have come down to their final possession.
The comeback spoiled SOU quarterback Austin Dodge's typically outstanding night — he went 27-for-57 with 366 yards passing, six TDs and no interceptions — and a breakout effort by the freshman running back Mason, who rushed 20 times for 236 yards. Mason also caught five balls for 51 yards.
Mason's 59-yard run was only his second-most impressive go-ahead score of the game: With five minutes left in the third, he sprinted 76 yards to give SOU its first lead of the half, 42-35.
The Hornets took back the advantage with two straight TD drives, the latter ending with a 22-yard pass to Carter with 7:39 remaining. But the Raiders came back immediately with a 75-yard drive and Dodge's 36-yard pass to Dylan Young to tie it at 49-all.
The Raiders offense racked up 599 yards — the 10th-highest total in school history.
Ryan Retzlaff also had a monster, career-best outing with seven catches for 142 yards and two scores — one on a 75-yard Dodge pass in the first quarter and another for 31 yards in the third. His brother, Matt Retzlaff, had two TD catches of his own and six total for 40 yards.
Jeremy Scottow also caught four passes for 40 yards, including a 13-yard gain before Mason's 59-yard romp.
Dodge's four first-half TD passes had the Raiders suddenly up 28-14 with 8:53 to go in the second quarter. Three Safron touchdown passes in the last four minutes gave the Hornets a 35-28 edge at halftime.
Safron's final TD pass came on just the third play of overtime. After that, Southern Oregon was unable to get positive yardage on four plays from 25 yards out.
Sacramento State totaled 639 yards of offense. Safron completed 34 of 52 attempts for 368 yards and seven TDs.
Southern Oregon 14 14 14 14 0 — 56
Sacramento St. 14 21 0 21 7 — 63
SoOr—Mason 3 pass from Dodge (Rosas kick), 10:41.
Sac—Graham 53 run (Aguilar kick), 8:37.
SoOr—R.Retzlaff 75 pass from Dodge (Rosas kick), 8:26.
Sac—Warren 1 run (Aguilar kick), 3:06.
SoOr—M.Retzlaff 9 pass from Dodge (Rosas kick), 13:30.
SoOr—M.Retzlaff 2 pass from Dodge (Rosas kick), 8:53.
Sac—Carter 12 pass from Safron (Aguilar kick), 5:24.
Sac—Norrise 24 pass from Safron (Aguilar kick), 2:11.
Sac—Carter 7 pass from Safron (Aguilar kick), :20.
SoOr—R.Retzlaff 31 pass from Dodge (Rosas kick), 11:03.
SoOr—Mason 76 run (Rosas kick), 5:02.
Sac—Norrise 5 pass from Safron (Aguilar kick), 13:31.
Sac—Carter 22 pass from Safron (Aguilar kick), 7:39.
SoOr—Young 36 pass from Dodge (Rosas kick), 4:43.
SoOr—Mason 59 run (Rosas kick), 1:48.
Sac—Carter 6 pass from Safron (Aguilar kick), :01.
Sac—Carter 14 pass from Safron (Aguilar kick).
First downs 26 34
Rushes-yards 28-233 49-271
Passing 366 368
Comp-Att-Int 27-57-0 34-52-1
Return Yards 16 25
Punts-Avg. 8-37.4 6-44.3
Fumbles-Lost 1-0 1-1
Penalties-Yards 7-59 13-129
Time of Possession 25:15 34:45
RUSHING—S. Oregon, Mason 20-236, Marshall 4-4, Team 1-(minus 2), Dodge 3-(minus 5). Sacramento St., Graham 24-166, Warren 11-54, Safron 14-51.
PASSING—S. Oregon, Dodge 27-57-0-366. Sacramento St., Safron 34-52-1-368.
RECEIVING—S. Oregon, R.Retzlaff 7-142, M.Retzlaff 6-40, Mason 5-51, Young 4-84, Scottow 4-40, Marshall 1-9. Sacramento St., Carter 12-122, Norrise 10-96, Harrison 4-72, B.Robertson 2-36, Graham 2-15, Maciel 1-13, Warren 1-6, Broadnax 1-4, Sander 1-4.
SOU MEN TRIUMPH — At Monmouth, the Southern Oregon men placed first and the Raider women second at Western Oregon's Ash Creek Invitational Friday.
The second-ranked Raider men had nine of the meet's top 15 runners to collect their first team title of the season, and the 16th-ranked women put three in the top 10 to place second at the four-team meet.
Making his season debut, junior Eric Ghelfi finished second overall by completing the 5,900-meter course at the Ash Creek Preserve in 18 minutes, 40 seconds. Trevor Lynn (18:56) and Zach Boyd-Helm (18:59) were right behind him in third and fourth.
In the women's race, SOU freshman Aspen Abbott, also making her season debut, paced the Raiders with a sixth-place showing in 16:19 on a 4,200-meter course. Luisa Westley (16:33) and Jessie Rozario (16:34) were impressive for the second straight weekend in taking eighth and ninth.
WESTMONT 2, SOU 0 — At Santa Barbara, Calif., ninth-ranked Westmont Warriors struck twice in the first half.
Julie Zamzow's shot was the only one all day for the Raiders (2-2-1), who were facing a ranked opponent from the Golden State Athletic Conference for the second time in three days.
Westmont (5-0-1) scored first in the 20th minute when Courtney Stonesifer found Amanda Diesen from up close. Kathryn Hornibrook notched the second goal unassisted in the 30th minute.
The Warriors got off 20 shots, though only five went on goal. They improved to 4-0 in the all-time series against SOU.