Courtesy: Southern Oregon Sports Information
The Southern Oregon football team emphatically left behind its recent struggles Saturday afternoon, defeating the last-place Montana State-Northern Lights 56-14 in a game dominated by defense at Raider Stadium.
The Raiders (5-5 overall, 5-4 Frontier Conference) stopped a three-game slide by totaling nine sacks – their most in at least a decade, which resulted in the Lights (1-8, 1-8) netting negative-17 rushing yards, the third-lowest total ever for an SOU opponent – and forcing five turnovers with interceptions for Keegan Lawrence, AJ Cooper and Tyson Cooper.
SOU picked up 400 of its 441 yards of offense through the air, led by Jordan Suell's four catches for 130 yards. Suell, a 6-foot-6 redshirt-freshman, made a highlight-reel one-handed grab for 46 yards and collected touchdown passes of 55 yards and 10 yards from Jack Singler in the first half to become the sixth Raider with a 100-plus-yard receiving game this year.
Rey Vega had a five-yard rushing touchdown in the first quarter, and in the third he brought back a kickoff 93 yards for SOU's first return TD of the season.
Sean Tow got the Raiders on the board with a 10-yard run – his 10th TD of the season – five minutes into the game. Bronsen Ader added a rushing TD in the third, while Dominic Giampaoli and Matt Retzlaff both had receiving TDs.
Singler completed 27 of 44 passes for 387 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions.
SOU led 35-7 by halftime.
The defense did the rest. Along with his interception, Tyson Cooper added to a career day with 11 tackles, 1 ½ sacks and a forced fumble. Eight other Raiders – Devvon Gage, Kevin Blueford, Sage DeLong, Jacob Proul, T.J. Molina, Kalan Hoedl, Trevor Candelaria and Colin Davis – had sacks to their names, while Gage and Blueford forced fumbles and DeLong and Austin Schmidt both recovered one.
MSU-Northern running back Zack McKinley, who entered the day averaging 102 rushing yards per game, netted 12 yards on 14 carries.
The Raiders are 10-0 all-time against the Lights. They'll finish their season at home next Saturday with a noon kickoff against seventh-ranked Montana Tech, which clinched at least a share of the conference title and an automatic berth in the NAIA Championship Series with its 42-21 win against College of Idaho.