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Struck powers Raiders to win over MSU-Northern

EUGENE — The Southern Oregon University football team had to sit on its season-opening loss for an extra week while waiting out a postponement. Finally given the chance to turn the page on Saturday afternoon, the Raiders did so effusively with a 42-7 thumping of Montana State University-Northern in Frontier Conference play at Autzen Stadium.

The 54,000-seat venue was devoid of fans — a condition of University of Oregon’s generous accommodations after ongoing air quality issues forced the game out of Ashland — but the Raiders received a jolt of energy from quarterback Matt Struck in his first start. The senior transfer and Crater High product threw for five touchdowns and rushed for another, completing 22-of-34 pass attempts for 326 yards.

Struck’s most lucrative connections were with Bryce Goggin, who caught nine passes for 128 yards, and Adrik Lamar, who caught four for 111. Both scored two TDs. Six more Raiders registered at least one reception, including Ben Graziani, who got behind the defense to make a 37-yard reception in the end zone three minutes before halftime to give the Raiders a 21-7 advantage.

Within the first nine minutes of the third quarter, Struck had his second TD passes to Goggin (a two-yard find up the middle) and Lamar (a 70-yarder that went as the longest completion of the day).

Struck’s performance marked the first time a Raider has thrown five touchdown passes in a single game since Austin Dodge did it in the 2014 NAIA semifinals at Saint Xavier (Ill.).

SOU totaled 494 yards, getting 61 more on 12 rushes from Hykeem Massey.

The defense also sharpened up while keeping an opponent out of double figures on the scoreboard for the first time since 2018.

The Raiders did it with just one takeaway — Devin Holden’s first interception of the season — by stuffing the Lights to the tune of 2.4 yards per rush and 12-of-29 passing. Alejandro Sanchez had a pair of sacks, Tre Holmes was credited with two more of SOU’s 11 tackles for losses, and Ty Glumbik led the team in total tackles with eight.

The Lights (0-2) have lost 42 consecutive Frontier games, a streak that stretches back to 2016. They’ve dropped all 14 of their head-to-head matchups all-time against SOU.

Izayah Boss accounted for their lone score, reeling in a 38-yard pass from Kaymen Cureton that trimmed SOU’s lead to 14-7 in the first quarter. Isaiah Paul prevented it from getting further out of hand, recovering Struck’s fumble in the end zone for a touchback two minutes into the second.

The Raiders are back on the road next Saturday at No. 19-ranked College of Idaho — which, like SOU, has started its season with a win over MSU-Northern and a loss to Rocky Mountain (Mont.).

Pending a clearer forecast, the Raiders will finally debut at home on Sept. 25 against Carroll (Mont.).

Former Crater standout Matt Struck, seen here in a file photo from earlier this season, led Southern Oregon to a win over Montana State-Northern on Saturday. Struck threw for five touchdowns and rushed for another in the win. Andy Atkinson/Mail Tribune