fb pixel

Log In

Reset Password

Raiders tackle Azusa in heavyweight battle

Raiders tackle Azusa in heavyweight battle


-- The top two NAIA independent college football teams on the West Coast will lock up tonight in Azusa, Calif.

Southern Oregon University's 11th-ranked Raiders (5-1) meet fifth-ranked Azusa Pacific (5-1), the defending NAIA national champion, at Cougar Field.

Entering the 6 p.m. game, both teams are averaging more than 34 points a game.

Southern Oregon, which had a bye last Saturday, will take some important injured players on the 700-mile bus trip, including tailback Griff Yates and nose guard R.J. Josephson.

Yates, who suffered a dislocated wrist two weeks ago in a 49-19 win over Simon Fraser, is expected to play. A decision will be made at game time, says SOU coach Jeff Olson.

If he plays, Yates will wear a soft cast with padding over it.

It depends on Griff as to how much he plays, says Olson. He wants to play, and he has been cleared to play, but it will depend on how much pain he can tolerate.

Yates participated in limited contact drills this week.

Josephson, who is recovering from a knee injury, has missed four games. He has been cleared to play by the SOU medical staff, although Tony Adame will continue to start.

R.J. is anxious to get back in there, and it will be an emotional lift to our defense to get him back out there on the field, not to mention that he will help us, says Olson. But like Griff, we will have to see how he feels and moves.

A Raiders win will give them their best start (6-1) since 1962 and will be a big step toward the NAIA national playoffs. They have games remaining against Humboldt State next Saturday in Ashland and at Western Oregon on Nov. 6 to close out the regular season.

Humboldt State handed Azusa Pacific its only loss.

We have to win at least two of our last three games to get in, says Olson. Maybe all three.

Playing at Azusa will be a big challenge, and it will tell us what kind of a team we are. I expect us to go down there and have a good chance to win.

The Cougars, who have won 11 straight home games, and Raiders are similar teams. Both control the ball with dominant running backs and play solid defense. Azusa Pacific's workhorse back is Jack Williams.

Southern Oregon counters with Yates, who has rushed for 923 yards on 165 carries, an average of 5.6 yards per carry.

Yates has drawn interest from NFL scouts, who have visited the campus to watch film.

We've had a scout from almost every NFL team, says SOU sports information director Rich Rosenthal, who is promoting Yates for the NAIA national player of the year award. Having Griff makes us a more attractive playoff team as an independent.