Lightning delay slows down SOU in loss to Yotes
ASHLAND — The Southern Oregon football team had the wind in its sails and a lead to its name late in the third quarter Saturday afternoon.
That’s when lightning struck and all of the Raiders’ good vibes were put on hold.
For 92 minutes, Southern Oregon was forced to wait to resume what would have been a signature early-season win over a ranked opponent. But once things got going again under a downpour at Raider Stadium, that same mojo couldn’t be recognized, as No. 17-ranked College of Idaho stormed its way back to hand the Raiders a 42-24 loss at Raider Stadium.
“It was just a momentum killer for us,” SOU cornerback Stokes Botelho said. “We had it going into the half, then kicked a field goal to get up and then it kind of fell into their arms. They’re a run-first, pass-second type of team and that’s all they did in the second half was really run the ball. We didn’t have anything to stop it, so live and you learn and you never lose.”
It’s the second time in as many years in which the Raiders have seen a weather delay happen with the Yotes in town.
Last year, it was a lightning delay of 2 1/2 hours before kickoff. This time, it came with 4:38 to go in the third quarter and the Raiders (1-2, 1-2 Frontier) feeling awfully good about where they were at, holding a 17-14 lead after Cesar Ruiz hit a 28-yard field goal.
Once things got back underway, though, it was those in purple helmets who had the momentum on their sidelines.
“I don’t think we had the energy that we had in the beginning,” said SOU quarterback Blake Asciutto, who started his second game in a row for the injured Matt Struck. “We were making bad decisions and I guess we just weren’t locked in.”
College of Idaho (3-0, 3-0) got the ball out of the restart and drove the ball right down the field on SOU’s defense, going 80 yards in eight plays, capped by a Hunter Gilbert 30-yard touchdown run to go ahead 21-17.
It was Botelho who momentarily got the lead back for the Raiders, as the Yotes’ first lead of the game lasted all of 16 seconds. On the ensuing kickoff, Botelho was able to find a hole and returned it 95 yards to the house on the final play of the third quarter.
“I knew once I was past the first line of defense it was over with,” said Botelho with a grin. “I did stumble at the 50, but I knew I couldn’t let that happen to me and had to catch my balance. I give credit to all the people who were with me on that play because they were blocking their butts off, so it’s not just me.”
But it took just over five minutes for the Yotes to take the lead back once and for all.
Yotes quarterback Andy Peters, a transfer from Boise State, connected with receiver Jon Schofield on a 10-yard TD pass to cap a nine-play, 80-yard drive to give his team a 28-24 lead.
Two plays into the Raiders’ next drive, momentum swung fully onto the College of Idaho sideline when Asciutto was intercepted by Keagen Croteau on a 24-yard pick-6.
“I saw the corner off and I thought I could throw that,” said Asciutto. “They rotated down right into it, so it’s just good defense against that. I should’ve just handed it off.”
Gilbert added his third touchdown run of the game with 1:33 to go to put the game out of reach.
“You would like to think with the lead and being at home and all of the things we invested in this week we would have done better at the end,” said SOU head coach Charlie Hall, “but we just didn’t.”
The Yotes scored on their first three drives after the restart, with almost all of their damage done on the ground.
Of the 26 plays College of Idaho ran during its three post-delay drives, 22 of them were runs.
The Yotes recorded 288 of their 487 yards of total offense against SOU on the ground, averaging 6.1 yards per carry. Gilbert led the way with 21 carries for 153 yards and three touchdowns, while Allamar Alexander finished with 77 yards on 16 carries.
“We’ve got to do a better job of tackling and things like that,” said Hall. “We had some missed alignments, some missed assignments that typically those are going to be where the mismatches are. I think we match up well with that team and I don’t think we were overmatched, but it’s just disappointing that we didn’t execute when we needed to.”
How the game ended was a far cry from how things were for the first 2 1/2 quarters at Raider Stadium.
SOU, playing its first home game since its Aug. 27 season opener against Rocky Mountain (Mont.), took a 7-0 lead on Asciutto’s 39-yard TD pass to Christian Graney.
After Yotes tied it on Peters’ 9-yard touchdown pass to Brock Richardson, the Raiders answered right back with Asciutto throwing a 22-yard strike to Imarion Kelly to put SOU back ahead, 14-7.
Asciutto, a sophomore, finished 12-of-27 for 176 yards and two touchdowns with the one costly interception. SOU running back Christian Quirarte rushed the ball 14 times for 85 yards.
SOU was essentially level on total yards of offense in the first half, with College of Idaho holding a slight 205-202 edge. But the Raiders could only muster 144 yards in the second half.
“There’s no excuses,” said Hall. “We just didn’t do the things at the time that we needed to do.”
SOU now faces back-to-back road games at Carroll (Mont.) and Eastern Oregon to wrap up the first half of the season.
Hall was quick to point out just how tough the Raiders’ schedule is the rest of the way, telling his team after the game that “you’re going to see a lot of teams a lot like the one you just played” in the coming weeks.
“Right now, it’s going to be very emotional to bounce back from a game like this,” said Hall. “We’re still in the early season and we would have liked to get the win today and have a five-way tie for first place and feel like we’re at an inflection point in our season, but we’re still looking to make that point happen.”
“It’s just about being consistent at this point,” he added. “We invested a lot of energy into this game and feel like our players were excited, they had a lot of energy, it was a great week of preparation. That’s where the challenge will be in trying to replicate that kind of energy.”
College of Idaho071421—42
SOU — Graney 39 pass from Asciutto (Ruiz kick)
CI — Richardson 9 pass from Peters (Fiske kick)
SOU — Kelly 22 pass from Asciutto (Ruiz kick)
CI — Gilbert 1 run (Fiske kick)
SOU — FG Ruiz 28
CI — Gilbert 39 run (Fiske kick)
SOU — Botelho 95 kick return (Ruiz kick)
CI — Schofield 10 pass from Peters (Fiske kick)
CI — Croteau 24 interception return (Fiske kick)
CI — Gilbert 14 run (Fiske kick)
Reach reporter Danny Penza at 541-776-4469 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @penzatopaper.