Raiders try to rebound in final home tilt
ASHLAND — Even though it's not yet the end of September, the Southern Oregon football team will play its final home game Saturday and will be looking to bounce back after a disappointing setback last week.
The Raiders (1-2) host NCAA Division III Linfield (2-0) Saturday at 6 p.m. in the annual Hall of Fame game. After Saturday's contest, the Raiders wrap up the season with five straight on the road.
The Raiders looked to be on their way to a victory last week at home against Willamette, but a 13-3 halftime lead turned into a 22-15 setback after a series of miscues.
"We have to learn from it," SOU head coach Steve Helminiak said.
"It was a tough loss and some of the guys took it really hard and we've had a lot of soul searching going on around here, including with the coaches. But it comes down to football. If you don't do the little things right, you are going to lose. It's football."
Linfield comes into this week's game ranked 13th in NCAA Division III after a pair of victories over ranked teams to start the season.
"Linfield is a very, very good team and they are coached extremely well," Helminiak said. "They believe they are going to win every time they go out. They play hard, minimize mistakes and at the end of the day they expect to win."
Helminiak has been impressed with a Linfield defensive front line that is only giving up 95 yards per-game on the ground this year.
"They are good up front," Helminiak said. "They are not big, but they play smart and rally to the ball really well. To gain yards against them is a fight."
The Wildcats' defensive line will be looking to stop SOU sophomore running back Brandon Baldwin. Baldwin ranks fourth in the NAIA in rushing at 131 yards per game and has gone for 195 yards and 171 yards in two games at home this year.
"He's a very unassuming and no nonsense type of guy," Helminiak said. "He's a tough kid and exactly what you want in a running back.
"He's all about the team and us getting better, and that attitude is obvious to the team. He comes to work everyday and you couldn't ask for more out out him."
Defensively, Nate Best leads the team with 17 tackles, while Will Watson has 16 tackles, five tackles-for-loss and two sacks.