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Prolific Raiders enter rankings at No. 23

KANSAS CITY — Back-to-back 60-point offensive outputs pushed the Southern Oregon football team into the NAIA Top 25, ranking 23rd in the poll released Monday by the national office.

Southern Oregon improved to 4-2 with its second consecutive blowout victory, defeating Montana State-Northern 65-34 Saturday for its first road win of 2012.

The Raiders jumped into the top 25 for the first time since the 2010 season, when the team spent one week ranked 24th before dropping out of the poll. The last time SOU ranked as high as 23rd was on Sept. 28, 2010, when it was 23rd.

The Raider offense is averaging more than 50 points per contest, and their 630-plus yards per game average is on pace to shatter the NAIA record.

Southern Oregon has won each of its past two games after falling in a double-overtime heartbreaker at No. 16 Oregon Tech on Sept. 29. The Raiders return to Montana this weekend for a rematch with divisional opponent Montana Western at 1 p.m. on Saturday.

Southern Oregon knocked off the Bulldogs 54-21 in the season opener in Medford.

DODGE HONORED — SOU quarterback Austin Dodge picked up his second consecutive Frontier Conference player of the week award, and teammate Josh Leff earned his first such honor following the Raiders' 65-34 win over Montana State-Northern last Saturday.

Dodge added three more yards to his career-high total set one week earlier, throwing for 471 yards and five touchdowns while completing 36 passes. He also added 13 yards on four carries in leading the SOU offense to a school-record 729 yards.

Leff helped an SOU defensive effort that limited MSU-Northern to minus 9 rushing yards. The junior defensive back wreaked havoc in the secondary, tallying four solo tackles and picking off a pair of passes as the Raiders forced four turnovers.

MEN PICKED FOURTH — Southern Oregon was one of four teams to receive first-place votes as the Cascade Collegiate Conference coaches picked the Raiders to finish fourth in the preseason conference poll.

The Raiders picked up two first-place votes and totaled 73 points, behind defending champion Oregon Tech (91 points), Eastern Oregon (80) and Warner Pacific (79). OIT took four first-place votes, with each of the next three teams receiving two.

Southern Oregon returns three starters from last season's 17-13 team, including NAIA All-American Eric Thompson.

Head Coach Brian McDermott opens his 17th season with nine new recruits, highlighted by a pair of international players from Australia in Joel Spear and Jordan West.

The Raiders' annual alumni game is Saturday at Bob Riehm Arena. Two alumni teams will play at 12 p.m., followed by the contest between the alumni and the 2012-13 team at 2 p.m.

WOMEN CHOSEN SIXTH — Cascade Collegiate Conference coaches expect the Southern Oregon women's basketball team to finish in the middle of the pack, picking the Raiders to finish sixth.

The Raiders lose one senior from last year's 14-16 squad and return four starters. Southern Oregon head coach Lynn Kennedy also signed 10 newcomers for the season, highlighted by a pair of NCAA Division I transfers and 6-4 junior forward Hanka Musa.

Eastern Oregon picked up nine of 10 first-place votes to total 99 points, with defending champion Corban grabbing the final first-place vote to rank second with 83 points. College of Idaho was picked third (83), followed by Warner Pacific (63), Oregon Tech (53) and SOU.

Southern Oregon plays its annual alumni game at 5 p.m. Saturday at Bob Riehm Arena.

AVILA RECOGNIZED — Southern Oregon sophomore Eric Avila has been named Cascade Collegiate Conference Red Lion men's runner of the week.

Avila won his second race in three meets this season, leading the top-ranked Raider men to first place at Saturday's CCC Preview Meet in Portland.

Avila finished the 8,000-meter race in a course-record 24:32.

TICKETS ON SALE — Tickets are on sale for the 2012 Southern Oregon University Sports Hall of Fame Banquet.

The banquet is Oct. 27 at 9 a.m. in the Stevenson Union on the SOU campus and will include breakfast. Attendees should RSVP and a $10 donation is requested. To RSVP, call 541-552-6772.

This year's Hall of Fame class includes softball player Brandi Brown, track and field athlete Gary Ross Berentsen, football star Mark Helfrich, supporter Sid DeBoer and the 1962 football team.

Helfrich, offensive coordinator for the University of Oregon, will give his induction speech through a recorded video.

The class will also be honored at halftime of the SOU-Carroll football game that day.