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'Cats look to stop Yates

ASHLAND

-- Southern Oregon and Willamette face off today in what stands to feature a battle of wills as each football team brings a 2-1 record into Raider Stadium.

The Bearcats boast the No. 2 rushing defense in NCAA Division III, allowing only 26 yards per game on the ground.

Conversely, senior tailback Griff Yates enters today's game needing 165 yards, 35 points and six touchdowns to establish three new Northwest small-college career records.

Whichever team flinches first most likely will walk away with its third win of the season, a feat increasingly important for SOU considering its independent status this season. A win would equal the Raiders' best start in eight years, and could help vault SOU back into the NAIA top-25 rankings.

Game time is 2:30 p.m., with radio coverage beginning at 1:30 p.m. on KTMT (580-AM).

The Bearcats are coming off a 9-3 loss at home to Humboldt State after opening the season with convincing wins over Colorado College (51-6) and Chapman (42-13).

Although Willamette boasts a potentially potent Fly offense led by former Ashland High standout Tim Blair, the defense carries the key to the Bearcat hopes. Willamette allows a mere 159 yards of total offense heading into today, and will have its sights set on shutting down the NAIA's leading rusher in Yates.

After picking up his 19th, 20th and 21st career 100-yard outings to start the season, Yates is already up to 500 rushing yards (166.7 per game) and eight touchdowns.