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SOU wants to finish on a winning note

ASHLAND — Southern Oregon University's football goals have been pared dramatically in the last week, but they do exist.

The Raiders were knocked from NAIA playoff consideration in a demoralizing, 33-0 loss to powerful Pacific Lutheran and dropped from the national top-25 poll for the first time in 13 weeks.

Still, they're 4-4 and will be gunning for their first back-to-back winning seasons since 1991 on Saturday when they end the season at home against Eastern Oregon.

The game is at — p.m. at Raider Stadium.

The Mountaineers come in with a 2-7 record and have lost five straight.

Our players realize what's on the line, Raider coach Jeff Olson, whose team went 7-2 last year, says. They're committed to going out as winners. They're disappointed we didn't accomplish our goals, but they are determined to have a winning season and start a new winning streak at home.

Last Saturday marked the first time since 1998 the Raiders had lost consecutive home games.

The going shouldn't be as difficult Saturday. The Raiders defeated the Mountaineers 34-2 here last year and lead the overall series 37-10-3.

Eastern Oregon has outgained its opponents by an average of 414 yards a game to 403, but it has allowed 33 points a game.

The Mountaineers are coming off a 7-3 loss to Puget Sound.

Coach (Rob) Cushman will have his team ready to play, says Olson. He's a very competitive person, and a 2-7 record has to be very difficult for him.

Olson says the Mountaineers do present problems with a double-wing formation and the triple-option that is extremely difficult to defend.

Senior quarterback Chuck Nyby is the leading passer in Eastern Oregon history and has completed 157 of 255 passes for 1,875 yards, or 208 per game.

The ground attack gets an average of 197 yards per game from fullbacks Scott Alcock and Tim Sicocan and slotback Mark Hanrahan.

Southern Oregon counters with some weapons of its own.

Despite being held to 92 yards under his season average against Pacific Lutheran, freshman tailback Dusty McGrorty needs just one yard to become only the sixth different player in school history to reach the 1,000-yard mark in a single season.

McGrorty has 999 yards on 203 carries for a 124.9 average. The redshirt freshman from Warrenton would become the youngest Raider to accomplish the feat, and it would be the fifth consecutive season SOU has had a 1,000-yard rusher.

McGrorty also has a chance to be the school's fifth straight Northwest small-college rushing leader.

At quarterback, SOU senior Dan Walters, a four-year starter, has moved into third place on the school's all-time pass attempt (737) and completion (421) lists and into fourth on the passing yardage ledger (4,524). He's completed 57 percent of his career passes and thrown for 29 touchdowns.

On defense, Raider senior cornerback Nathan Mart ranks fifth in the NAIA with six interceptions.