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Woodward injury taints spring game

SOU offense struggles after the senior quarterback suffers a high-ankle sprain on the third play of Sunday's scrimmage

ASHLAND ' Players, coaches and fans alike winced and held their collective breath for a few frightening moments at Raider Stadium on Sunday.

The tense moments came after just the third play of Southern Oregon University's second annual spring football game when starting quarterback Dan Woodward lay writhing in pain after getting sacked by Garret Gelker.

The diagnosis: a moderate to severely sprained left ankle that will keep Woodward hobbling for a couple weeks but shouldn't affect his preparation for the Raiders' season-opening game on Sept. 20 against Linfield.

This isn't the way we wanted this thing to start ' that's for sure, SOU coach Jeff Olson said. But Dan had an excellent spring and that ankle will heal up soon.

— Woodward, who has never missed a game during his football career because of injury, said that Gelker grabbed his leg, swung him around and then landed on him awkwardly as they both hit the ground.

I think he (Gelker) was worried about me getting away and he crocodile-rolled my leg, said Woodward, who passed for 1,908 yards and 14 touchdowns last season in leading the Raiders to a 8-3 record and a berth in the NAIA quarterfinals. I felt a little something pop in my ankle and then I felt like my knee was about to go next.

I tried to walk it off but it swelled up fast.

With Woodward restricted to spectator status for the rest of the day, SOU's offense struggled.

All-American tailback Dusty McGrorty performed respectably in limited duty, gaining 26 yards on six carries, but as a team the Raiders accumulated just 85 yards rushing on 30 attempts and their three backup quarterbacks completed just 10 of 29 passes for 89 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions.

Worse, the offense was nailed with 11 penalties for 86 yards.

The only score of the day came on a 21-yard touchdown run on a counter play by backup tailback Brandon White, a senior from Torrance, Calif.

I would have liked to have seen more focus out there today ' all those penalties bother me, Olson said. But we've had a lot of intense practices this spring.

We know we've got some things to work on by the time fall practice comes, but we've got eight starters coming back on offense, six on defense and probably our best recruiting class ever coming in.

The Raider offense, which had eight possessions from varying positions on the field, made one other threat in addition to White's touchdown run.

That came on the fourth series when, after starting from the defense's 35-yard line, junior tailback Bill Jolin gained 16 yards on a sweep and White picked up 10 yards on a swing pass from second-string quarterback Brandon Griffith that advanced the ball to the 9.

After an incomplete pass, Jolin gained — yards to the 6 but then the offense committed holding and offensive pass interference penalties that killed the drive.

While the offense struggled most of the day, Olson was encouraged by an aggressive SOU defense that allowed just 3.1 yards per play, forced three turnovers and registered two sacks, not to mention three other plays for lost yardage.

Our defense is way ahead of where it was last year at this time, Olson said. (Defensive coordinator) Shay McClure walked off the field shaking his head last year (after the spring game). But not today.

Those guys played tough.

Gelker and redshirt freshman linebacker Shaun Negra each had one sack while senior defensive lineman Floyd Watson and junior defensive lineman Josh Clark combined for the other.

Standout freshman cornerback Kellan Quick and sophomore defensive lineman Keith Karbowski collected the interceptions.

INdivIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING '

McGroty 6-26; Jolin 3-18; White 8-32; Stout 3-3; Krantz 2-19; Konidakis 3-15; Despotakis 2-(-)4; Woodward 1-(-)6; Griffith 1-(-)8; Poeltl 1(-)10.

PASSING ' Woodward 1-1-0 for 10; Griffith 6-16-1 for 46; Chiappino 3-6-0 for 30; Despotokis 3-6-1 for 13.

RECEIVING ' Keith 3-32; Poeltl 2-23; White 2-20; Hill 1-9; Krantz 1-3; Howard 2-10; Dice 1-11; Jordan 1-0.

Southern Oregon?s Nick Keith, a freshman wide receiver from Pleasant Hill, races upfield after catching a pass. Keith finished the day with three receptions for 32 yards. Mail Tribune / Andrew Mariman - Mail Tribune Andrew Mariman