SOU offense explodes again in Raiders' first road win
HAVRE, Mont. — One week after the Southern Oregon football team racked up 700 yards of offense for the first time in program history, the Raiders did it again to set a new record in a 65-34 Frontier Conference road victory over Montana State-Northern Saturday afternoon.
Southern Oregon improved to 4-2 after picking up its first road win since Oct. 1, 2011, while the Lights fell to 2-4. The Raiders will be on the road again next week, traveling to Dillon, Mont., for a conference rematch with Montana Western after the Raiders beat the Bulldogs 54-21 in the season opener in Medford.
"We haven't done it on the road like this, so it changes everything for us, and our confidence level goes up immensely," SOU head coach Craig Howard said.
SOU and Montana State-Northern combined for 1,220 yards of offense, including 1,002 through the air. Southern Oregon's 729 yards surpassed last week's record of 706, and the Raiders reached 60 points in back-to-back games for the first time in program history. Southern Oregon's defense held MSUN to minus-9 yards rushing, only the third time in team history the Raiders have held an opponent to negative yards on the ground.
"(Linebacker) Kalii Robinsion had another huge game and the linebackers played extremely well," Howard said. "They stuffed (MSU-N's) run. I think that was the difference in the game."
The Raiders also finished with 36 first downs in the game, one more than last week to give SOU a combined total of 71 first downs in the last two contests.
Austin Dodge continued his assault of the SOU record book, passing for 466 yards to nearly match last week's total of 468. Dodge completed 37 of 52 passes, the second-highest total in team history behind his own record of 42 set two weeks ago against Montana Tech. His five touchdown passes push his season total to 22, the third-most in team history, two behind Travis Mari's record of 24 in 2001.
Heston Altenbach completed his first career touchdown pass for the Raiders, throwing for a 36-yard score to Clay Sierra on a fourth-and-18 punt fake.
Mike Olson scored two more touchdowns for Southern Oregon, catching 11 passes for 204 yards and one score while running in another. Patrick Donahue also caught 11 passes, totaling 115 receiving yards. Cole McKenzie and Sierra each caught touchdown passes for the Raiders.
"They've got big, physical cornerbacks and we felt like our wide receivers could take advantage," Howard said.
Colin Amsler kicked three field goals and eight PATs to tally 17 points in the contest, and Manny Barragan had 56 yards rushing and a touchdown on 17 carries.
The Raider defense finished with five sacks for 44 yards and seven tackles-for-losses totaling 52 yards. Josh Leff led the team with a pair of interceptions, picking up a total of 26 yards on the returns, while Marquice O'Leary tallied a sack and two fumble recoveries.
Derek Lear threw for 500 yards and five touchdowns for the Lights, with a pair of interceptions. Brandon O'Brien caught seven passes for 173 yards and a pair of scores to lead a group of eight MSU-N pass-catchers in the game.
The Lights' offense scored 21 points in the first quarter to build a brief double-digit lead, but it was all SOU after that. Southern Oregon opened the scoring with a Colin Amsler field goal on the Raiders' opening possession, but the Lights countered with a 46-yard touchdown pass from Lear to O'Brien. Lear put together a couple more big passes on the Lights' next drive, hitting Brandt Montelius with a long pass to set up a 25-yard scoring connection with Miller on third-and-goal from the SOU 25-yard line.
Southern Oregon's first touchdown came on a fake punt, as Altenbach threw the scoring pass to Sierra to pull SOU back to within four points.
"That was an important call in the game because they were starting to rout us," Howard said. "We got some momentum back and stayed in the ball game. Altenbach was a quarterback at Coquille (High School) and he threw a nice pass, and Sierra made a nice catch."
Lear's third TD pass of the quarter put MSU-N back up by 11 going into the second quarter.
Dodge connected with McKenzie for his first touchdown pass of the game less than a minute into the second quarter, and the Raiders scored 28 straight points to go ahead 38-21. Dodge found Olson on the Raiders' next drive, and Olson and Barragan picked up 1-yard rushing scores on each of the following possessions. Lear found O'Brien for his second touchdown of the game to break the MSU-N scoring drought, but 36 seconds remained in the half — just enough time for another SOU drive.
Dodge quickly moved the Raiders down the field, completing a 20-yard pass to Olson and a 46-yard bomb to Donahue to give SOU a first-and-10 at the MSU-N 10 with less than 15 seconds to go. Two plays later, Dodge rolled out to his right and found Sierra in traffic to give the Raiders a 45-27 halftime lead with two seconds to go.
"With Dodge at quarterback, the sky's the limit, so we went for it," Howard said.
Amsler kicked a 26-yard field goal to open the second half before Lear threw his fifth touchdown pass to pull the Lights within two scores at 48-34. The Raiders scored the next two touchdowns on Dodge passes to Barragan and McKenzie, and a 35-yard Amsler field goal finished off the scoring in the final minute.
Southern Oregon 65,Montana State-Northern 34
At Blue Poney Stadium
Southern Oregon 10 35 10 10 —65
MSU-Northern 21 6 7 0 —34
SOU — FG Amsler 19
MSUN — O'Brien 46 pass from Lear (Baum kick)
MSUN — Miller 25 pass from Lear (Baum kick)
SOU — Sierra 36 pass from Altenbach (Amsler kick)
MSUN — Johnston 15 pass from Lear (Baum kick)
SOU — McKenzie 36 pass from Dodge (Amsler kick)
SOU — Olson 60 pass from Dodge (Amsler kick)
SOU — Olson 1 run (Amsler kick)
SOU — Barragan 1 run (Amsler kick)
MSUN — O'Brien 5 pass from Lear (kick blocked)
SOU — Sierra 5 pass from Dodge (Amsler kick)
SOU — FG Amsler 16
MSUN — Johnston 28 pass from Lear (Baum kick)
SOU — McKenzie 1 pass from Dodge (Amsler kick)
SOU — FG Amsler 25
First Downs 36 19
Rushes-Yards 53-227 19-(-9)
Passing Yards 502 500
Comp-Att-Int 40-56-0 23-37-2
Total Yards 729 491
Punts 2-36.5 5-34.4
Fumbles-lost 1-1 2-2
Penalties-yards 8-64 11-111
Southern Oregon — Marshall 16-88, Barragan 17-56, Kammel 2-28, Wiggan 2-28, Dodge 5-15, Donahue 2-11, Olson 6-1.
Montana State-Northern — Silva 10-10, Johnson 1-3, Lear 8-(-22).
Southern Oregon — Dodge 37-52-0 466, Kammel 2-3-0 0, Altenbach 1-1-0 36.
Montana State-Northern — Lear 23-37-2 500.
Southern Oregon — Olson 11-204, Donahue 11-115, Barragan 5-29, Otaguro 4-49, McKenzie 4-57, Sierra 2-41, McShane 2-8, Togia 1-(-1), Altenbach 1-36.
Montana State-Northern — O'Brien 7-173, Johnson 5-71, B. Montelius 3-98, Miller 2-34, Silva 2-36, Johnston 2-43, J. Montelius 1-29, Torgerson 1-16.