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Bearcats get dirty, topple Raiders

It wasn't so much the icy rain and muddy field that dampened — spirits at the Raider homecoming football game.

It was the 21-10 loss at the hands of NCAA Division III — strength Willamette University. The defeat dropped Southern Oregon to — 3-5 on the year and dashed any chances of the Raiders finishing with a — school-record sixth-straight winning season.

"To be a part of this program for so long, as seniors — we want to keep that legacy going," Raider senior quarterback Brandon — Griffith said. "Our legacy wasn't to be that. In the long run, that's — harder."

With just one game left on the schedule - a Nov. 6 home — showdown against Eastern Oregon - SOU can't salvage a winning record, — but the Raiders can finish with a 4-1 mark against fellow NAIA squads.

"There can still be a positive out of this," ninth-year — Raider head coach Jeff Olson said. "Right now we have to work on the mental — side of things."

Even though Southern will have two weeks to prepare for — the Mountaineers, there's not a lot on the physical side of things the — Raiders can do to improve so late in the season.

Instead, the Raiders will try to get their heads back — in the game and get psyched to upset Eastern. EOU toppled Willamette 20-13 — earlier this fall.

"Our focus can't be who they've played or what they've — done," Olson said. "Hopefully, now the guys can find enough resolve."

Not just the streak

The past four meetings between the Bearcats and the Raiders — have been decided by a total of 22 points, making Saturday night's 11-point — romp the worst loss to WU since a 41-21 beating in 1997.

"I hate losing," Raider senior wide receiver Carl Dice — said. "It's very hard personally for us to lose."

Although the Raiders did limit the mysterious Bearcat — "Fly" offense to just over 350 yards and 21 points - WU averaged 400 yards — and 30 points coming in - Willamette dominated almost every statistical — category.

"What I'm very disappointed in is we've taken a step backwards — and that's really hard for me to deal with," Olson said. "But it starts — with me and I can't point any fingers."

Southern netted 178 yards in total offense, including — a dismal 60 yards on the ground.

Meanwhile, the Bearcats forged across the soupy field — for 259 rushing yards.

"Our success in the past has been predicated on being — able to run the ball," Olson said.

SOU did have the edge in pass completions (13-9) and passing — yardage (118-93), though neither team had much luck throwing the ball.

"We've become a passing team this season, for whatever — reason," Griffith said. "But it's tough to pass when you can't feel the — ball."

One last shot

As frustrating as Saturday night's loss was, Southern — has the opportunity to wrap up the season on a high note at home against — longtime rival Eastern Oregon University.

"I want to win and just to have some fun," Griffith said. — "It's my last time out there with my brothers. I just hope we play like — we can."

The Raiders came together in 2003 to put one past Eastern — 35-12 and clinch their fifth- straight winning season. The Mountaineers — haven't beat SOU since 1998, also the last year the team finished with — a record under .500.

"We're going to try to start a new streak of winning out," — Dice said. "Hopefully, we'll get a little better weather."