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Raider seniors end careers on high note

ASHLAND — The Southern Oregon University football seniors finally got the meaningful victory that had eluded them for the past four years.

The Raiders (5-4) got big plays from sophomore quarterback Bryan Lee-Lauduski and rolled over Dixie State, 42-9, in the season finale Saturday at Raider Stadium to notch the program's first winning season since 2003.

Lee-Lauduski neared perfection with three touchdown passes to three receivers and no interceptions on the afternoon. The rest of his teammates, and the seniors in particular, did some damage, too.

"We wanted to go out there and finish strong," senior linebacker Austin Stack said. "We (the seniors) decided to go out and give everything we had and establish a new tradition for this program."

If Saturday was any indication, these seniors took the Raiders a step in the right direction.

"We (the seniors) got together this summer and made a pact to do whatever it takes to win," said wide receiver Kevin Holtzman.

"We set the foundation to build for the future," said Brandon Beatty, echoing Holtzman's sentiments. "We put in the countless hours in the weight room and practice field to show these guys how to win."

The rest of the team seems to have learned more quickly than expected.

Junior running back Marlon Rosales caught the first touchdown pass against Dixie State and ran for another at the end of the second quarter, and four other Raiders found pay dirt.

The game started off with both teams trading blows. Ten minutes into the action, Lee-Lauduski connected with Rosales on a swing pattern that turned into a 9-yard touchdown pass.

Two minutes later, the Rebels (3-8) answered with a 39-yard bomb from quarterback Nate Lewis to his own backup, Skyler Ence. The Rebels missed the ensuing extra-point attempt and trailed 7-6.

Dixie State took a brief 9-7 lead after Zach Manning connected on a 39-yard field goal, but it was all SOU from there.

The Raiders fielded the ensuing kickoff and proceeded to march straight through the Rebel defense. Two minutes later, Rosales scored on a 3-yard run, and the Raiders were in control.

Senior receivers Tim Greenidge and Holtzman reeled in touchdown passes of 18 and 8 yards, respectively, from Lee-Lauduski in the third quarter, and senior running back Shane Van Zant added a 5-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter, putting the Raiders up 35-9.

Things got even uglier for the Rebels when Raider defensive back Danson Cappo picked off a Lewis pass and ran it back 25 yards for a touchdown. The score put the Raiders up by the final margin, 42-9, and started the celebration on SOU sideline.

Head coach Steve Helminiak and defensive coordinator Stacy Collins were treated to Gatorade baths from their players, and the seniors passed around hugs, laughs and tears.

"This is the best possible way to have ended my career," said senior lineman Jake Purcell, victory cigar in hand. "Not too many people can say they went out with a win, and this couldn't be any better."

"Bra, I can't express how crazy this has been," said senior center Adam Akau. "I remember all the smiles and good times, but I can't believe that its finally over."

Dixie State 6 3 0 0 — 9

Southern Oregon 7 7 14 14 — 42

SOU — Rosales 8 pass from Lee-Lauduski (O'Neill kick)

DSU — Ence 36 pass from Lewis (kick failed)

DSU — FG Manning 39

SOU — Rosales 3 run (O'Neill kick)

SOU — Greenidge 18 pass from Lee-Lauduski (O'Neill kick)

SOU — Holtzman 8 pass from Lee-Lauduski (O'Neill kick)

SOU — Van Zant 5 run (O'Neill kick)

SOU — Cappo 25 interception return (O'Neill kick)

Southern Oregon’s Tim Greenidge runs for a touchdown in the third quarter of Saturday’s win over Dixie State at Raider Stadium. - Jamie Lusch