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Record High

ASHLAND — Southern Oregon has a tradition of counting out its final point tally in unison following victories — “one, two, three …” and so on — but on Saturday, in the interest of time, head coach Craig Howard called an audible: Count by 10s, he said.

It still took a while, but the fourth-ranked Raiders did eventually get through the ritual following the most prolific offensive performance in program history, an 82-9 victory over Montana State-Northern in a Frontier Conference laugher Saturday at Raider Stadium.

Southern Oregon scored a record 41 points in the first quarter, 62 in the first half and hit 75 late in the third quarter before easing off. The Raiders gained 686 yards of offense and were as balanced as they’ve been all season, with 369 yards passing and 317 rushing.

After a rough offensive start to the year, the Raiders (3-1) seem to have found their footing. They scored 41 points in their first seven quarters of the season. By halftime Saturday, they had scored 100 in the subsequent seven.

And they’ve done most of that damage at a machine-gun pace, as seven of the Raiders’ nine first-half touchdown drives drained less than a minute of game time.

“Obviously, we replaced a lot of key guys from last year,” SOU offensive coordinator Ken Fasnacht said. “So trying to get that group to jell and become part of our unit was important. And then, obviously, we were developing our quarterbacks at the same time. We struggled a little bit with some things, didn’t know what our quarterbacks could and couldn’t do.

"As we’ve gone through three weeks we’ve kind of figured out what they’re good at and what we can execute with our new receiver corps. I think they’re finally improving and understanding what they’re supposed to do.”

SOU's previous highs for points in a quarter (35) and points in a game were established in a 76-29 win at Montana Western on Oct. 20, 2012.

Starting quarterback Tanner Trosin and backup Kamerun Smith combined to complete 14 of 20 passes for 302 yards and seven touchdowns. Running back Melvin Mason celebrated a birthday by rushing for 110 yards and catching three passes for 57 yards and a touchdown to earn offensive player of the game honors.

Eight Raider receivers had two or three catches as Trosin and Smith spread the ball around against an MSUN defense that was completely overwhelmed from the opening kickoff. Matt Retzlaff had three catches for 89 yards and two touchdowns, and Zack Davis had two catches for 100 yards and two TDs, including a 73-yard bomb from Smith with 24 seconds to go in the first half.

Lost in the Raiders’ offensive firework display was an equally dominant performance by their defense. The Lights (0-4) were held to six first downs and 87 yards of offense in the first half, and SOU’s defense sacked MSUN quarterback Jess Krahn six times and had two interceptions. Linebacker Tyson Cooper had 2½ sacks and three tackles for a loss, and Sam Woods had 1½ sacks.

Raider defensive lineman Aaron Downes provided the fans that hung around one final highlight when he snared an interception and chugged 64 yards to the MSUN 9 with 6:06 to go in the game. Two plays later, Bobby Lum charged in from the 6 to set the SOU scoring mark.

The Raiders set an ominous tone for the visitors from the get-go, as JJ Latu returned the opening kickoff 64 yards to the Lights' 31. On the next play, Trosin hit Retzlaff on a post route in the end zone. The ball was underthrown, but Retzlaff was so open he had time to slow down and make an easy basket catch.

Trosin’s 3-yard pass to Adonis Griffin made it 13-0 less than five minutes later, and Mason’s 44-yard touchdown reception on a third-and-14 screen pass gave SOU a 20-0 lead. Griffin’s score capped a 76-yard drive and Mason’s score a 73-yard drive. Later, Trosin and Retzlaff hooked up again for a nice 43-yard touchdown pass to make it 47-3.

“This week, we just tried to focus on getting the ball in the air and get a touchdown in the air, because we haven’t had that the past couple weeks,” Trosin said. “I think it’s really starting to click this week and it’s a good little momentum shift for the next couple weeks, getting guys some more confidence catching the ball. We've still got a lot things to figure out, but today was a good team win all around and I think we showed some spark — a lot of good connections here on offense today."

Smith lit up the Lights’ secondary, too, hitting Davis with a 27-yard TD pass with 6:02 to go in the first half.

Smith’s next touchdown pass wrapped up a nightmare half with a disastrous sequence for the Lights. Facing a fourth-and-2 from its own 22, Southern Oregon punted the ball away with 43 seconds to go, but a roughing the kicker penalty against MSUN gave the Raiders a first down. Only 33 seconds remained, but that was enough for Smith to drop back and loft a beautiful pass to Davis, who made a fingertip grab at the MSUN 40 and sprinted the rest of the way untouched for the score.

“We just run our offense,” Davis said. “We don’t change anything that we do regardless of what the situation is. It was the two-minute drill so we got into the two-minute drill and just wanted to go deep and score before the half.

“On my side it was a cover two look but the safety didn’t come over the top so he just hit me right when I passed the (cornerback). It was just a good feeling to hook up with the quarterback. He put it right there for me.”

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Senior defenders Joseph Lealofi (40) Trevor Jones (14), of SOU, chase down quarterback Jess Krahn. PHOTO BY LARRY STAUTH
Defensive back Karrington Jones, an SOU senior, pulls down an interception in front of Jake Day Saturday at Raider Stadium. PHOTO BY LARRY STAUTH