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Run-heavy SOU makes Long a lonely receiver

He's become the lonely outside receiver for Southern Oregon University's run-oriented offense.

But senior Mike Long doesn't care. He just wants to catch passes -- when they come his way -- and win football games.

I'm like everybody else, says Long. I like to watch Casey Jackson and Griff Yates run the football as much as anybody. I'd like to catch more passes, but it's fun watching those guys run.

I'd like to have more passes thrown my way, but I can live with it and wait my turn..

Winning has become a passion for Long and the Raiders. Southern Oregon's 56-35 pounding of rival Western Oregon last Saturday gave the Raiders a positive start in the Columbia Football Association. It also set the tone for another pivotal game on Saturday in Ashland.

The Raiders (3-2 overall and 1-0 in the CFA) will meet ninth-ranked Central Washington (3-1, 1-0) at — p.m. at Raider Stadium with first place in the CFA at stake.

On paper, we're the underdog, says Southern Oregon coach Jeff Olson.

But Olson's tone of voice suggested he doesn't agree with what he had just said.

We're playing with a lot of confidence, he says. We think we can win at home, if we played like we did last Saturday against Western.

From halfway through the second quarter of that game, we played our best football of the season. That's very encouraging. It was also good to see us control the football during the last 11 minutes of the fourth quarter.

Yates, the national leader in rushing at 188.8 yards per game, rushed for 165 yards against Western Oregon and two touchdowns. He increased his season rushing total to 944 yards.

Jackson added another 167 yards and two rushing touchdowns.

Olson says Long may get more chances to catch passes against Central Washington, which is known for jamming the interior front of its defense to try to stop the run.

The Wildcats are expected to do even more stacking of linebackers and linemen inside to try to stop Yates and the rush-hungry Raiders.

We've put in a few new wrinkles to get me the ball, if the situation is right, says Long. I'd like to catch more balls.

At times, it's frustrating, but as long as things are going well, I don't really care that much if I get the ball.

Against Western Oregon, Long caught touchdown passes of 28 and 74 yards from quarterback Dan Walters, and returned a kickoff 82 yards for a touchdown to open the game.

Their safeties were playing too close to me and that gave me the opportunities to get deep, says Long. I was one-on-one with the cornerback on my side all day long, it seemed.

On both touchdowns, Dan (Walters) threw the ball perfectly. That made it pretty easy.

For the season, Long has caught 13 passes for 345 yards and five touchdowns.

Central Washington lost its first game of the season last Saturday to NCAA Division II power UC-Davis, 51-16. The Wildcats have another strong defense despite that score against Davis.

They are allowing 337.5 yards per game and just 129.8 yards on the ground. contrast, SOU is averaging 260.6 yards rushing per game.

RAIDER NOTES: Former North Medford High player Will Salade leads the CFA in interceptions with three. Salade is playing free safety in place of Jenner Yriarte, who is lost for the season with a broken wrist ... Former Eagle Point star R.J. Josephson has taken the CFA lead in tackles for losses with 16.5 ... Central Washington tops the CFA with fewest turnovers with one in four games. contrast, SOU leads the CFA in takeaways with 15 ... Linebacker J.D. Callicoatt of Grants pass continues to lead SOU in tackles with 67, including 37 of the unassisted variety. Josephson ranks second with 39.