SOU ROUNDUP: Raiders use late stand to upend Rocky Mountain
ASHLAND — No matter the path or the quality of the opponent, the Southern Oregon football team can’t stop landing itself in last-minute, game-deciding moments week after week.
On Saturday night at Raider Stadium, the drama only made the celebration sweeter after SOU’s 21-14 win against Rocky Mountain (Mont.), which was decided when Hykeem Massey ran in the go-ahead touchdown with 1:12 left on the clock and sealed when Noah Johnson broke up the Battlin’ Bears’ final play 20 yards away from the end zone as time expired.
With their second win in a row, the Raiders bumped their record to 2-4 overall and 2-3 in the Frontier Conference. Rocky fell to 2-4 and 1-4, losing its fourth straight.
Massey, a junior from Seattle, became SOU’s first triple-digit rusher of the season, netting 120 yards on 21 attempts and the five-yarder to win it. Quarterback Wyatt Hutchinson went 12-of-23 for 177 yards and touchdown passes of 28 yards to Parker Randle and 31 to Christian Graney in the first quarter, but the Raiders didn’t generate any offense after that until their final drive.
Though they surrendered all of a 14-0 lead, defense kept them in it. Rocky’s only offensive touchdown was a second-quarter, six-yard reception by Josh Kraft from Drew Korf, who completed half of his 44 attempts for 218 yards.
Korf was picked off twice, by junior Michael Chisley Jr. and freshman DeShawn Craig. Chisley’s interception was his fourth of 2019, tying him for the third-most in the NAIA, and Craig’s marked the first of his career.
Another freshman, Marve Nyembo, blocked Rocky’s 23-yard field goal attempt, which initially appeared to be returned by Chisley for a score before it was ruled that he stepped out of bounds on the way.
SOU’s special teams also put the defense in a few precarious spots, as three punts totaling 21 yards landed Rocky at the Raiders’ 34-yard line twice and their 35 on another occasion. The Bears didn’t score on any of the three chances.
They did, however, tie the game when Devonte Woods blocked a field goal and John Tia brought it back 62 yards for a touchdown with 9:03 left. Kraft scored on a reverse for the two-point conversion, making it 14-14.
Three drives later, SOU took the lead back. Hutchinson’s 20-yard completion to Graney put the Raiders at Rocky’s 29-yard line with 2:48 to play, and his third-and-9 completion to Jason Shelley for 16 yards required a circus catch after it was tipped, but put the Raiders at Rocky’s 12.
Massey then took advantage on third down. Three completions put Rocky in position to answer on their final chance, but the Bears ran out of time.
Graney finished with a career-high 103 yards and six catches.
The Raiders had six sacks, with Collin Crown and James Porter getting in on two apiece.
They’ll be back on the road next Saturday at Eastern Oregon for a 1 p.m. kickoff, attempting to avenge a 24-21 loss to the Mountaineers on Sept. 6 at Raider Stadium. For the first time since 1974, they’ve played five straight games decided by seven points or fewer.
SOUTHERN OREGON 2, EASTERN OREGON 0: At Ashland, historically, Eastern Oregon has had a hard enough time generating offense against Southern Oregon at full strength. On Saturday afternoon at Raider Stadium, EOU added a self-inflicted handicap.
A red card forced to the Mountaineers play the final 82 minutes a man down, and SOU finally made them pay in the 72nd when freshman Sam Walker deposited the go-ahead goal in a Cascade Conference win.
EOU (4-7-1 overall, 2-5 CCC) has still never scored against SOU (7-5, 5-2) in five head-to-head matchups, and in the latest put only one shot on goal after being forced to pack in the defense early as the result of Carlos Solorio’s dismissal.
The Raiders put just one shot on target — not until Luis Aguilar’s in the 69th minute — prior to Walker’s fifth goal of the season, which was assisted by Adrian Villegas and Junior Rivas. SOU tacked on in the 88th when Jared Delaney redirected Walker’s box-bound throw-in to Andrew DePaepe for an uncontested strike.
With their fifth win in six outings, the Raiders took over sole possession of third place. Their home unbeaten streak in CCC action extended to 17 games, a stretch in which they’ve blanked 15 opponents, and the shutout was their second of the weekend after they limited Providence (Mont.) to one shot on goal during Friday’s win.
Walker’s goal was his third in four games, and his assist gave him eight points in SOU’s last five games and 13 on the season. Villegas initiated the action by splitting the defense and passing to Rivas at the top of the box, where with his back to the goal he tapped the ball behind him to find Walker in stride and in space.
DePaepe’s goal later went down as the first in his career.
SOU had a 9-7 advantage in total shots. Calvin Mitchell was responsible for the only one that required a save from Raider keeper Wyatt Zabinski in the 39th minute.
The Raiders will pick up next weekend with a key road trip, playing Friday at first-place Corban and Saturday at Northwest Christian.
EASTERN OREGON 1, SOUTHERN OREGON 0: At Ashland, determined to shake off its first loss, sixth-ranked Eastern Oregon didn’t leave many chances for Southern Oregon in its Cascade Conference victory at Raider Stadium.
In the 52nd minute, Jenna Jensen assisted Nan Kiebert’s seventh goal of the season and the Mountaineers (8-1-2 overall, 5-1-1 CCC) made it stand by becoming the first team to shut out the Raiders (5-4-2, 2-2-2) in Ashland since they did it in 2017.
After giving up three goals in Friday’s setback at Oregon Tech, EOU limited SOU to two shots on goal — Misty Martinez’s strike five minutes into the afternoon, and on Baylee Touey’s breakaway that Cydni Cottrell shut down with a diving stop in the 77th.
The Mountaineers put six on target and nearly broke through early when Camie Edgington’s liner hit the crossbar and bounced straight down, just in front of the goal line.
The scoreless tie broke when Jensen dribbled in from 40 yards out and led Kiebert to the edge of the keeper box, where she beat SOU’s sliding Kailey Lemon to the ball to dart a short shot near the right post into the net.
Jensen’s assist was her first of the season. Kiebert has done all of her scoring — 18 total points — in EOU’s last seven games.
Lemon made five saves for the Raiders.
Their home unbeaten streak ended at 14 games. They’re winless and scoreless in their last three matchups against the Mountaineers, who are seeking a third consecutive CCC title.
SOU will be on the road next Friday at Corban and Saturday at Northwest Christian.