SOU hits road for quarterfinals
ASHLAND — The state of Kansas has been good to the Southern Oregon University football team in recent postseason history, and now the Raiders get to pay it a visit for the first time in program history.
Baldwin City, population 4,540, will be the site of Saturday's NAIA Championship Series quarterfinal game between the seventh-ranked Raiders (9-2) and No. 2 Baker University (11-1). Kickoff is scheduled for 10 a.m. PST at Liston Stadium, where the Wildcats defeated No. 17 Point (Ga.) by a score of 68-21 in the first round.
All eight hosts won in the first round for the second year in a row. SOU dominated No. 10 Kansas Wesleyan, 52-8, with 691 yards of total offense and a defense that didn't allow the Coyotes to score through the first 54 minutes.
The defending champion Raiders will be making their sixth quarterfinal appearance and their third in the last four years.
Baker has also been in the quarterfinals five times before, most recently in 2013. Before that appearance, the Wildcats hadn't advanced since the NAIA went to one division in 1997, losing first-round games in 2008 and '12.
The Wildcats represent the Heart of America Athletic Conference's South division, which they won with a record of 5-0 to earn an automatic playoff berth. SOU's opponent in the 2014 first round, MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.), was also from the HAAC South. SOU won that game, 44-26, in Ashland.
The Wildcats will come in with the NAIA's seventh-best scoring offense (41.3 points) and the seventh-best scoring defense (17). Their only loss this year was 35-31 at No. 21 Benedictine (Kan.), and they've defeated three teams in the current NAIA top-25 poll: No. 3 Grand View (Iowa) (20-15), No. 23 William Penn (Iowa) (48-13), and Point.
SOU and Baker's only previous meeting was a nonleague affair on Oct. 29, 2005 at Raider Stadium. The Raiders won, 44-29, and it was their only win in a 1-9 season.