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Raider football, AD Sayre earn honors

Austin Dodge, Craig Howard and the entire Southern Oregon University football team were winners at the Oregon Sports Awards on Thursday night at the Nike World Headquarters.

Meanwhile, in a separate item, SOU's Matt Sayre was chosen the top athletic director in the Cascade Collegiate Conference.

Dodge, the record-setting quarterback for SOU's NAIA champion football team, took home the Ad Rutschman Small College Athlete of the Year Award, which went to a Raider for the third time in six years. Mitchell Lofstedt, a former Raider wrestler, won it in 2010 and '13. SOU's Brock Gutches was also a finalist this year after becoming the seventh NAIA wrestler to win four titles this season.

Howard, who led the Raiders to their first title in his fourth year as head coach, shared the Slats Gill Award for Sportsman of the Year with University of Oregon football coach and SOU alum Mark Helfrich.

SOU football shared the George Pasero Award for Team of the Year with the University of Oregon football and track and field teams.

The 63rd annual show took place inside the Stanford Theatre at the Tiger Woods Center and was hosted by Neil Everett, an anchor for ESPN who is a Portland native and University of Oregon alum.

Dodge ended his Raider career by setting nearly every NAIA career passing record, including touchdown passes (154), passing yards (17,250), completions (1,253) and yards of offense per game (373.7). While leading SOU to a school-record 13 wins as as senior, he averaged 373.8 passing yards per game with 52 TDs compared to 11 interceptions, and in the last three rounds of the playoffs averaged 453 passing yards with 11 TDs. SOU's 55-31 win over Marian (Ind.) also marked his 20th 400-yard performance.

Howard, who owns a 34-14 record at SOU, brought the Raiders a championship when they had never before advanced past the quarterfinal round. He is the first Raider to earn the Slats Gill Award.

Sayre, whose dramatic transformation of Southern Oregon University athletics led in 2014-15 to the most fruitful year in department history, was honored by the league.

SOU was No. 6 in the final NAIA Learfield Sports Directors' Cup standings, the top finish ever by an institution representing the CCC. Sayre, the first Raider AD to win the award since Shirley Huyett shared it in 1996, will be put forth as the conference's nomination for NAIA Athletic Director of the Year.

In his fifth year as head of the department, Sayre watched every Raider program advance to the postseason for the first time in school history, introduced the first two new sports at SOU since 2000, oversaw two major facility renovation projects and helped SOU break athletics fundraising records for the third year in a row.