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SOU hopes to keep home success going

Raiders host Montana Tech, look to get back into the mix in the Frontier Conference

ASHLAND — With four games to go, the Southern Oregon football team still has time to ascend from the middle of the Frontier Conference pack. Given its home-road splits, Raider Stadium is an ideal place to start.

The Raiders (3-3), coming off a conference-wide bye week, will play back-to-back games in Ashland starting with Saturday’s

1 p.m. tilt against Montana Tech (2-4).

Their .500 record is indicative of inconsistent play to this point, but in three designated home games they’ve outscored opponents 100-43, while in three road games they’ve been outscored 109-38. You can be similarly uncertain of what the Diggers are bringing to the table from week to week: they’re still the only team to knock off first-place Rocky Mountain (Mont.), but their only other win was at last-place MSU-Northern. Last time out, a 40-yard fumble return with two minutes to go kept them from evening their record against College of Idaho.

All fans 12 and older planning to attend are subject to SOU’s vaccination policy, which requires proof of full vaccination against COVID-19 or a negative test taken no more than 48 hours prior to entry. Photo ID must be presented for verification. Per state mandate, non-participants will also be required to wear masks regardless of vaccination status.

Since first matching up in 2007, the Diggers have an 8-7 record against the Raiders. The teams have split 12 Frontier matchups.

Montana Tech has won four of seven at Raider Stadium. In their most recent visit on Nov. 2, 2019, the Diggers took a 28-14 decision by compiling 205 rushing yards and coming up with three interceptions.

In both 2015 and ‘16, the Diggers clinched Frontier titles with wins at Raider Stadium. In 2017, the Raiders completed their 10-0 run through the conference with a 24-10 triumph in Butte.

Like SOU, the Diggers had some rust to shake off after opting out of last spring’s modified Frontier season. They’re also operating under a new head coach, Kyle Samson, who first arrived at Montana Tech as the offensive coordinator in 2019.

Jet Campbell, a third-year starting quarterback, is having a solid season with 11 touchdown passes compared to five interceptions, and 220 passing yards per game on 52 percent accuracy. Trevor Hoffman, a 6-foot-4 receiver, is averaging 66.2 reception yards per game. Two other targets, Kiley Caprara and Kyle Torgerson, are posting a touch over 50.

The Diggers’ have been less effective running the ball at 3.3 yards per carry, but sophomore Blake Counts is at 76 yards per game and three rushing TDs.

Tech’s defense is vulnerable against the rush, surrendering 179.8 yards per game and 4.5 per carry. But the Raiders rank among the least likely to take advantage in the NAIA, posting just 54 yards per game and 1.8 per attempt.


– Bryce Goggin is one of only 16 players in the NAIA averaging 100-plus reception yards, sitting at 101.4 per game through five outings. No one else in the Frontier is averaging more than 80. At UMW, he missed out on becoming the first Raider receiver with four consecutive 100-yard outings by a single yard — totaling 99 on five catches.

– Though they were limited to two at UMW, the Raiders lead all Frontier teams with 19 sacks on the season. Alejandro Sanchez is tied for third on the NAIA leaderboard with 7 ½, and he’s closing in on becoming the third Raider in the Frontier era to record 10 or more in a single season. Tua Laolagi is tied for 24th nationally with 4 ½ and Ika Ngauamo is right behind him with four.

– Shane McLaughlin is the Frontier leader in kickoff-return average at 26.8 yards on 16 attempts, the 20th-best mark in the NAIA. It was boosted significantly in his last appearance in Ashland by a 95-yard TD return against Eastern Oregon.

– The Raiders are minus-six in takeaways on the season. They’ve gotten five interceptions from five different individuals and recovered one fumble.

– As quarterback Matt Struck has gone, so have the Raiders: he’s thrown for nine TD passes in two games and two over his other four. His 238.2 passing yards per game rank 22nd in the NAIA and third among Frontier quarterbacks, and he also has three of SOU’s six rushing touchdowns and one of the team’s two 20-yard rushes.

– Junior receiver Christian Graney is 47 reception yards away from hitting the 1,000-yard mark for his career. He’s averaging 39 per game this season.

– Linebacker Drew Schuler has recorded 23 tackles in his last three games. He and safety Stokes Botelho lead the Raiders with 35 apiece overall.

– In two appearances at Raider Stadium, Avery McCuaig has rushed for 116 yards and two touchdowns on 28 attempts.

– SOU head coach Charlie Hall enters the weekend with a 23-13 Frontier record. His teams are 13-4 in Frontier home games.

Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneSouthern Oregon running back Avery McCuaig finds a hole in the line to score a touchdown during the third quarter of the Raiders’ Oct. 2 game against Eastern Oregon.