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Mounties stun Raiders in final seconds

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ASHLAND — Kai Quinn’s four-yard loft to Saige Wilkersen in the back of the end zone with 10 seconds left gave Eastern Oregon its first points of the second half and a 24-21 win over Southern Oregon, putting the finishing touches on a painful final two minutes for the Raiders on Saturday afternoon.

In its Frontier Conference opener at Raider Stadium, the aesthetics were never on 20th-ranked SOU’s side but the win appeared to be. The Raiders’ mistakes took on greater consequence when the Mountaineers took the ball 70 yards on a game-deciding drive that was extended by two fourth-down conversions and a pair of dropped chances at interceptions.

EOU (1-1 overall, 1-1 FC) has won five of its last six games against SOU (0-2, 0-1) in Ashland. Three of those have been decided by seven points combined.

Quinn completed 27-of-49 attempts for 270 yards and two touchdowns, though Michael Chisley Jr. picked him off twice and defensive end August Forrest III got him for a third interception on a ball initially tipped by another lineman, James Porter.

Raider quarterback Wyatt Hutchinson highlighted SOU’s offensive efforts with 177 passing yards, including TDs of 25 yards to Christian Graney and 33 to Jordan Suell to bring the Raiders within 17-14 at halftime.

Hutchinson took over with his legs in the second half, where he netted 66 rushing yards on six attempts. With 11:30 left, he gave the Raiders a 21-17 lead by taking a 13-yard sprint through the middle of the defense.

That was still the score with 2:55 left and the Raiders at Eastern Oregon’s 13-yard line, but a bad snap pushed them back 17 yards and Graycen Kennedy’s attempt at a career-long 47-yard field goal fell short.

EOU took over with equipped with no timeouts and two minutes to play. On fourth-and-6 at SOU’s 48-yard line, Quinn’s pass to Isaiah Thomas was muscled away from a Raider defender and completed for a 14-yard gain. On fourth-and-8 from SOU’s 32, a pass interference call kept the Mountaineers alive.

Their next play, a nine-yard connection from Quinn to Wilkerson, was pushed to the Raiders’ 4-yard line by a personal foul. On first-and-goal, Quinn found Wilkerson again for the winner.

A pair of early interceptions, a blocked punt, a blocked field goal and another off the upright intensified the sting for the Raiders. They were also in position to win despite being out-gained 421-273.

Nate Kuratli made a team-high 13 tackles, including an assisted sack, and Collin Crown had 11.

Lineman Sage Delong dominated for the Mountaineers with three sacks and five total tackles for losses.

Graney collected five receptions for 64 yards and Suell had three for 42 to lead the Raider receiving corps.

SOU will be on the road next week at 15th-ranked College of Idaho, which improved to 2-0 on Saturday with a win at Montana Tech.

Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneSOU’s August Forrest III makes an interception off a tipped throw in the 1st quarter.
Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneSOU’s Christian Graney make a catch for a touch-down in the 1st quarter.