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SOU overhauls Tech, matches record win total

BUTTE, Mont. — The fifth-ranked Southern Oregon University football team escaped early trouble Saturday afternoon with the help of receiver Dylan Young’s milestone day and toppled Montana Tech, 45-33, at Alumni Coliseum.

The Raiders (9-1 overall, 8-1 Frontier Conference) matched three other SOU squads for the program record for wins in a season. They’ll try to replace it, and clinch at least a share of their second Frontier title in two years next Saturday in the final game of the regular season against Eastern Oregon at Raider Stadium.

Montana Tech (1-9) grabbed a quick 14-0 lead with 2:50 left in the first quarter. It was swiftly erased. Austin Dodge connected with Young for a 31-yard touchdown less than two minutes later, and on the next possession the duo connected for a 56-yard score that tied the game.

Young, a senior who transferred to SOU before last season, tied Martin Turner’s 31-year-old program record of 28 career touchdown catches. He has 16 this season, including six in the last three weeks.

Against the Orediggers, Young caught six passes for 182 yards — putting him over 160 for the third straight week — but was outdone by South Medford alum Ryan Retzlaff, who caught seven passes for 222 yards, including TDs of 72 and 97 yards in the fourth quarter. The latter grab put the Raiders up 45-26 with 3:01 left.

Dodge completed 27 of 38 passes for 497 yards and four touchdowns. His 97-yard TD pass to Retzlaff broke a school record a week after he and Young hooked up for a 91-yard score.

SOU went into halftime leading 28-14 following Melvin Mason’s 8-yard TD run.

It was Joseph Lealofi’s 56-yard fumble recovery and return that initially put the Raiders up, 21-14, midway through the second quarter.

Julius Rucker grabbed his third interception of the season and had a team-high 11 tackles. Karrington Jones claimed SOU’s other interception of Tech quarterback Dawson Reardon, who went 18-for-31 with 241 yards and a pair of TD passes.

Isiah Carter forced a fumble for SOU, which was also recovered by Lealofi in Raider territory. Carter and Laurence Calcagno were both in on 10 tackles.

Tech’s Pat Hansen rushed 29 times for 169 yards and a touchdown. The Orediggers have lost eight straight games and have had leads in the last five of them.

Sean Tow had 17 carries for 73 yards to lead the SOU ground game. The Raiders totaled 589 yards, and Tech had 517.

The Raiders remain tied in first place with second-ranked Carroll, which was a 27-10 winner Saturday against Rocky Mountain. Carroll closes its regular-season slate with College of Idaho next week.

SOU is likely to move up in the NAIA rankings that will be released Monday due to fourth-ranked Faulkner’s 30-21 loss at 25th-ranked Campbellsville. The NAIA Championship Series pairing will be released next Sunday, and SOU will be in favorable position to host a first-round (Nov. 22) game if it can remain in the top eight.

Ryan Retzlaff