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Yates’ four-TD day helps SOU rout Eastern

LA GRANDE — Freshman running back Gunner Yates continued his rapid ascent with four touchdowns in Southern Oregon’s 42-14 blowout of Eastern Oregon on Saturday afternoon at Community Stadium.

The Raiders (2-3 overall, 2-3 Frontier Conference) raced out to a 26-0 halftime lead and shut down the winless Mountaineers (0-6, 0-5) late to win on EOU’s home field for the second straight season. Yates, a Coquille product, rushed 14 times for 92 yards and three scores and added a TD reception.

The game started ominously when SOU — like in last week’s 26-14 setback at Carroll (Mont.) — fumbled away its first drive as Yates lost the ball to Joey Gutierrez. But the Mountaineers returned the favor a few minutes later when JoN’Mae Wafford stripped Andrew James and Marve Nyembo recovered the fumble and returned it 39 yards for the Raiders’ first defensive score of the season.

SOU quarterback Blake Asciutto, who completed 17 of 28 passes for 177 yards, hit Bryce Goggin in stride and in the end zone for a 43-yard TD pass to make it 14-0 at the start of the second quarter. After a defensive stop, Yates escaped for a 48-yard TD run to make it a three-score game.

Yates collected a 1-yard TD pass from Asciutto to end the half. He tacked on his last two scores — rushes of 1 and 5 yards — after EOU had trimmed the lead to 26-14 in the third on George Balowski’s blocked-punt return and Tanner Sween’s 27-yard TD pass to Drew Reyes.

After sitting out the season opener, Yates has compiled 233 rushing yards on 5.4 per carry over SOU’s last four games. He became the first Raider with three touchdown runs in a game since Rey Vega in 2018, and the first Raider with four total touchdowns in a game since Melvin Mason in 2014.

SOU’s defense kept EOU at 262 total yards. The Mountaineers, who have lost 12 of their last 13 games, were held without multiple offensive TDs for the fourth time this year.

Senior linebacker Jake Regino led the Raiders with 10 tackles, hitting double figures for the third week in a row, and a sack. Noah Turnbull was credited with a pair of sacks and Seth Miller added eight tackles.

Goggin found the end zone for the fourth time in as many weeks. The senior registered five receptions for 76 yards and Christian Graney had four for 38.

The Raiders are back home next Saturday to face Montana Western, which dropped to 2-3 in the Frontier with a loss Saturday at Rocky Mountain (Mont.).

SOU's Bryce Goggin, shown in action earlier this season, found the end zone for the fourth time in as many weeks on Saturday against Eastern Oregon. [Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune]