Record effort lifts Raiders
Yates notches CFA mark for yards rushing
ASHLAND -- Griff Yates, Southern Oregon University's record-breaking junior tailback, sat in the corner of the Raiders' locker room giggling and talking to his cousin Bro.
I don't really like to talk about myself or records, Yates said, smiling at Bro. I hate cocky people.
But Yates, who set a Columbia Football Association record for rushing yards in a single game when he romped for 348 yards on 38 carries and scored five rushing touchdowns Saturday, finally warmed up to talk about his spectacular feat.
And oh by the way, Yates' five touchdown runs played a major role as the Raiders pounded Pacific Lutheran University 58-21 at Raider Stadium.
The win ended PLU's 12-game winning streak over the Raiders and evened SOU's record at 1-1.
I thought I played a better game against Douglas in my junior year of high school (1994), said Yates, chuckling. I scored five touchdowns in that game, too.
But he didn't gain 348 yards. And he wasn't playing against PLU, a perennial defensive power in Northwest small college football.
Yates, a 6-0, 200-pound junior tailback from Coquille, ran through this PLU defense like a knife slicing through warm butter.
Actually, they have a good defense, said Yates of the Lutes. But I had good blocking and big holes. My O line (offensive line) did a great job opening holes.
Yates set other records on Saturday as well. He broke the SOU record for single-game scoring with 30 points on five touchdown runs. The old record of 24 points was shared by Alphonso Harris, Dan Johnson and Dennis Shields.
Yates also broke his own school single-game rushing record of 270 yards. He was charging toward the NAIA national single-game rushing record of 409 yards by Derrick Williams when he was taken out of the game with six minutes to play.
As Yates closed in on the CFA rushing record, SOU head coach Jeff Olson wanted to take him out of the game with the big lead.
I walked up to him and he told me he wanted the record, said Olson. So, I said I would leave him in until he broke it. In no way did I want to embarrass Pacific Lutheran over this. Frosty Westering and his players are too classy for that.
I appreciate coach (Olson) letting me stay in and get (the record), said Yates. Some day, it will mean a lot to me. But right now, I just play it one game at a time and I'm out there to win.
Yates ripped off touchdown runs of 71 and 58 yards in the third quarter as the Raiders exploded for a school-record 28 points in the quarter. He also had a 2-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.
The final touchdown of the period came when Eagle Point defensive lineman R.J. Josephson caused PLU quarterback Chad Johnson to fumble and freshman defensive lineman Kodiak Malmstrom recovered it in the end zone to give SOU a 44-21 lead.
Yates added his fifth touchdown run in the fourth quarter and Eagle Point quarterback Dan Woodward threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Leo Stoddard for the Raiders' eighth and final touchdown.
Southern Oregon appeared to strike quickly on the game's opening kickoff when Mike Long returned the ball 98 yards for a touchdown. But the return was called back due to a holding penalty against SOU.
The Raiders still managed to get points in their opening drive when Jason McGregor kicked a 36-yard field goal.
PLU struck back when W.T. Peterson caught an 11-yard touchdown pass from Johnson. Yates followed with his first touchdown run of the game, a 1-yard burst into the end zone, as the Raiders regained the lead 9-7.
PLU made it 13-9 when Johnson scored on a 1-yard keeper play.
Former Eagle Point High receiver Toby Taylor gave the Raiders the lead they never let get away when he caught a 15-yard touchdown pass from reserve quarterback Dan Walters, who completed 12-of-13 passes for 119 yards and one touchdown in relief of starter Shawn Sharp.
Taylor ran a pattern across the field and broke open in the middle to score his first collegiate touchdown.
It was a drag pattern and Dan (Walters) looked off the safety and threw it right to me, said Taylor. I caught it and took it to the (end) zone.
Taylor said the Raiders were emotionally ready to play PLU after losing 31-28 at Eastern Oregon last Saturday.
There was so much more emotion this week, he said. I think that loss brought us closer together. This is the way we'll play from now on.
Tight end Don Lovett caught five passes for 45 yards to lead the Raiders.