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Raiders rise up, hammer Carroll

HELENA, Mont. — Tailback Rey Vega's breakout game helped Southern Oregon University down Carroll College, 34-14, Saturday, the first Raiders' regular-season victory here.

Vega, a sophomore transfer, rushed 14 times for 157 yards for ninth-ranked SOU, and the defense limited Carroll to 237 yards in the Frontier Conference contest.

Vega's output was the most for a Raider back since Sean Tow's 155 on Nov. 1, 2014. His total was helped by a 94-yard touchdown run with four minutes left in the first quarter, which was SOU's longest rush since Dusty McGrorty's 96-yarder on Oct. 25, 2003. Vega also caught three passes for 87 yards.

“We’ve got some speed on our team," said Raider coach Craig Howard. "It’s one of our strengths. (Vega’s) not the fastest guy on the Raider team. On that field today, he looked like the fastest human being on the field. He had great runs. He ran hard on the inside and great on the outside. And he made some great catches. He really had a big game.”

SOU (2-2 overall, 2-1 Frontier) is one of three one-loss teams in the conference, along with Montana Tech (3-1) and Rocky Mountain (2-1), going into next Saturday's 1 p.m. game against College of Idaho at Raider Stadium. At 1-3, Carroll is off to its worst start since 1998 and has now lost eight of its last 10 dating back to last year.

The Raider defense shut down the Saints on nine of their 11 possessions and stopped them three-and-out five times. Carroll's yardage total was the lowest for an SOU opponent in 14 games.

“We’ve had some classic games with these guys," said Howard, "some down-to-the-wire nail-biters. This year we beat them by 20 points. I’m really proud of these guys.”

Quarterback Jack Singler threw an interception on SOU's first drive, then extended the Raiders' second possession with a completion to Vega on fourth-and-12 before hitting wide-open tight end Ben Bachman for a 9-yard TD in the middle of the end zone. It was Bachman's first career score.

Vega's long run put SOU up 14-0, but Carroll quarterback JT Linder's 7-yard TD rush cut the lead in half with five seconds left in the first quarter. The Saints then got a stop and were driving before SOU safety Keegan Lawrence — a converted running back making his first start — changed the game with his first career interception.

“Our defense rose to the occasion today,” said Howard.

It led to a 12-play, 60-yard drive that Tow finished with a 1-yard TD with 2:55 left in the half, making it the eighth straight regular-season game in which Tow has scored.

The Raiders stopped Carroll, and their offense was back at it.

Matt Retzlaff made a 7-yard catch from Singler with 34 seconds left for the 33rd receiving TD of his career. It matched Dylan Young's school record and was Retzlaff's his 40th TD overall. He finished with seven receptions for 57 yards and passed his brother, Ryan, for second-place on SOU's career receiving yards list by upping his total to 2,803.

That score made it 28-7 at halftime. Of the nine previous games in series history between the Raiders and Carroll, eight had been decided by six points or less, and an 18-point Carroll win in 2013 was formerly the biggest spread.

Singler, who also hit Jason Shelley three times for 52 yards, completed 23 of 43 passes for 286 yards in his second start.

The Raiders — who got field goals from Marcus Montano of 27 and 25 yards — totaled 523 yards of offense, which Louis Macklin helped them reach with a season-best 58 yards on eight rushes.

Lawrence and Devvon Gage recorded team-highs of nine tackles apiece, while Armando Gauger and Jacob Proul shared SOU's only sack.

Raiders rise up, hammer Carroll
Raiders rise up, hammer Carroll