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Sac State overpowers Raiders in opener

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Southern Oregon can come home from its opener at Sacramento State feeling relieved about at least a few things: its new special teams situation, receiver Jordan Suell looking like he’s all the way back, and the fact that the matchup is out of the way.

The 20th-ranked Raiders will hope to soon be able to chalk up some of the other particulars of a 77-19 loss to the level of their competition on Saturday night at Hornet Stadium. Sacramento State, an NCAA Division I member of the Big Sky Conference, accumulated 685 yards of offense and found the end zone on all seven of its first-half drives.

The playing field will even out at Raider Stadium next Saturday when SOU plays its Frontier Conference opener against Eastern Oregon, which was a 48-12 loser in its opener at No. 15 College of Idaho.

SOU will take some positives into that game, starting with Suell, who missed six games last year due to injury after a breakout sophomore season. The 6-foot-6 senior totaled a career-high 164 reception yards, the most for any Raider in two years and his sixth overall 100-yard performance. He made seven catches, including a 19-yard touchdown on the first drive of the game and a 54-yarder for the Raiders’ second TD in the third quarter.

Junior quarterback Wyatt Hutchinson finished 24-of-43 for 303 yards. In addition to the TD passes to Suell, he was picked off four times but connected with eight different Raider receivers. Khalil Hudson, a redshirt-junior, made his Raider debut with six catches for 70 yards.

Kicker Graycen Kennedy and punter Craig Contreras Jr. also had encouraging debuts at their respective positions, both replacing Raider all-stars. Kennedy - the son of former SOU women’s basketball coach Lynn Kennedy, now at Portland State - converted both of his field goal attempts, from 46 yards and 37. Contreras, a converted quarterback now playing tight end and filling in for injured punter Jaxon Clark, averaged 43.7 yards on six attempts, and his long of 62 put him at No. 9 in SOU’s all-time record book.

The Hornets’ point total was the second-highest put on the Raiders in program history. Kevin Thompson completed 14 of 20 passes for 303 yards, and three of his four touchdowns went to Pierre Williams. Thompson also accounted for a 90 of the team’s 345 rushing yards and answered SOU’s game-opening scoring drive with a 24-yard TD.

The Hornets averaged 7.8 yards per rush.

Nate Kuratli highlighted SOU’s defense with nine tackles. He also recovered a fumble that Michael Chisley Jr. forced to start the third quarter and give the Raiders their first stop. Jake Regino forced another.

SOU’s last dive into the NCAA Div. I world was a 52-35 loss at UC Davis in 2016. In 2013, they dropped a 63-56 overtime affair at Sacramento State in the highest-scoring game in team history.

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