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Raiders aim to win on the road

It may be premature to call the Raider football game against — Rocky Mountain College Saturday crucial, but the game could weigh heavily — on the post-season hopes of No. 18 Southern Oregon.

The Battlin' Bears, the Frontier Conference fourth-place — team in 2003, mark the second Raider meeting with an NAIA team this fall.

"Any game's huge, especially when you're playing an NAIA — school," Raider senior quarterback Brandon Griffin said. "We kind of want — to send a message. It's very important."

It will also be important for Southern to bounce back — from its shocking 32-0 shutout at Humboldt State last week. The Raiders — (1-1) realize another loss could virtually trash any shot the team has — at the NAIA playoff picture this year because wins - and losses - against — NAIA teams carry more clout with pollsters than game results against nonaffiliated — teams.

"I don't pay a lot of attention to (the polls)," ninth-year — Raider head coach Jeff Olson said, admitting he told his team to forget — about the numbers at this point. "The thing that will take care of national — rankings is a win on Saturday."

Southern will look to bone up on offense and hold onto — the ball against Rocky Mountain, a team the Raiders beat handily 37-14 — two years ago in Billings, Mont.

"It's tough for any team to come off essentially a blowout — and be positive," Griffin said. "We haven't really thought about it. You — have to move on."

SOU gave up six turnovers a week ago versus Humboldt, — including two fumbles that set up Lumberjack end zone drives and an interception — that resulted in a 61-yard touchdown return.

"We know we have the talent to be a good team," Griffin — said, explaining the Raiders will focus on building a running game and — avoiding turnovers.

The Raiders will face a balanced Battlin' Bears attack — that includes three second-team All-Frontier conference players. Senior — all-conference wide receiver Jon Owen led the team in receiving yards — last season with 635 yards and two touchdowns in 10 games.

Rocky Mountain also returns quarterback Adam Sanchez, — who recorded 15 passing touchdowns and paced the team in rushing yards — (350), and senior linebacker Eric Reis. Reis, an all-conference selection, — notched 50 solo tackles in 2003, including 21 for-loss takedowns.

But Southern seems to have the confidence and skill to — take down the still-winless Bears.

"We've got to develop an identity and get some consistency," — Olson said. "We just haven't gotten into a rhythm yet."

But the team will leave the past in the past and buckle — down for the long road trip and important duel against Rocky Mountain.

"This team, so far, appears to be a very close-knit group — and the way we've responded to last week's game, so far, has been very — positive," Olson said. "The intensity's been excellent. It's been a very — physical week of practice."