Raiders head home to face Montana Western – Medford News, Weather, Sports, Breaking News

ASHLAND — Due to a three-way tie for the title last season and a scheduling coincidence set in motion years in advance, the Southern Oregon University football team is set to face a defending champion. of the Frontier Conference for the third time in as many home games.

This particular defending champion, Montana Western, has already exhausted its margin of error.

In terms of playoff aspirations, SOU (2-3 overall, 2-3 FC) and UMW (3-3, 2-3) likely need to hold the board to the end to keep their hopes alive. They kick off the second half of the conference schedule at 1 p.m. Saturday at Raider Stadium, where SOU will look to win back-to-back games for the first time this season as the Bulldogs look to stop a two-game slide.

After accepting Frontier’s automatic offer for the NAIA Championship Series in 2021, the Bulldogs – behind reigning FC Offensive Player of the Year Jon Jund, a versatile senior quarterback – have been picked to win again. the conference and ranked No. 17 in the Top 25 just two weeks ago. They have since lost the ballot with back-to-back home losses to Montana Tech and Rocky Mountain (Montreal).

With 87 career assists, Jund makes the Bulldogs dangerous every time he takes the field. But with nine touchdowns and six interceptions this season, he’s nowhere near his junior season’s pace of 33 touchdowns and is averaging 65 fewer passing yards per game (189.3) after losing some receivers and linemen. keys.

He’s also the Bulldogs’ most frequent rusher, having taken off 100 times for 60.7 yards per game and six touchdowns, though Reese Neville is an all-conference tailback with 72.8 rushing yards per game and 5.5 per race.

Two of FC’s best offenses have come to the Bulldogs in their most recent losses, but they’ve given up just 20.7 points and 274.5 yards per game. They also lead the FC in bags (18) and takeaways (13).

The Raiders are 10-4 in the head-to-head series and 9-4 in Frontier vs. UMW games, though they’ve dropped each of the Bulldogs’ last two home-court matchups.

UMW is making its first visit to Raider Stadium since 2018 and is winless in seven all-time trips to Ashland – their first being a 30-12 loss in the first round of the 2002 NAIA Playoffs.

Last season on Oct. 9, the Bulldogs beat the Raiders 38-7 holding them to 287 yards after SOU scored the game’s first touchdown. It was SOU’s second-lowest points total in an FC contest.

Briefly

–In last week’s 42-14 win at Eastern Oregon, Gunner Yates rushed 13 times for 91 yards and two touchdowns and added a one-yard TD reception. The Coquille freshman went on to be named Frontier Offensive Player of the Week, SOU’s first since Bryce Goggin in Week 3 of last season. Yates, the son of former three-time Raider All-American Griff Yates, is averaging 5.5 yards per carry on 42 attempts in four games — the third-best rating in the conference and the highest rating for any Raider with an average of at least 10 attempts per since quarterback Tanner Trosin in 2015. Against the Mountaineers, he became the first Raider in three years with multiple rushing touchdowns in a game and the first in four years with three rushing touchdowns. total in a match. The highlight was a 48-yard score, a week after he ran for 29 yards at Carroll.

–Goggin, a 2021 all-conference first-team selection, picked up the pace with four touchdowns in SOU’s last four games and nine of 16 receptions in the last two. Since last season, the senior receiver has totaled 12 touchdowns in his last 13 outings. Goggin is one of four Frontier players with at least three TD receptions this year.

–Senior linebacker Jake Regino had 10 more tackles last week, his third straight double-digit game. With 11.2 tackles per game, he leads the Frontier rankings, ranks ninth in the NAIA and threatens to become the first Raider to average double the numbers since Lauren Calcagno did so in 2014. Calcagno has also been the last Raider to record 10+ tackles in at least four straight games, doing so six straight during the SOU National Championship season.

–Marve Nyembo scored SOU’s first defensive touchdown of the fall last week, a 39-yard fumble return. He and the rest of the unit held the Mountaineers to 262 total yards. In the Frontier standings, the Raiders rank fifth in runs allowed (23.0), sixth in yards allowed (339.4), second in sacks (14) and last in takeouts (6). Their average of 5.7 yards allowed per pass is, however, the best on the team in the Frontier era (since 2012).

— After struggling last year with inexperience, SOU’s offensive line has blossomed into a team strength. Despite missing two injured players who opened the season as starters (Braden Reed and Anthony Morales), the line helps the Raiders generate the most yards per carry (5.3) in the conference and seventh in the NAIA after averaging 1.9 last season. . They’ve also allowed SOU quarterbacks to be sacked just three times — easily better than any team in the conference except Montana Tech (2). In five games last season, the Raiders allowed 13 sacks.

– Blake Asciutto eclipsed the 1,000 passing yard mark in Game 5 of the SOUTH season and currently leads all Frontier quarterbacks with 212.4 yards per game and 10 passing touchdowns. As a team, only Montana Tech averages more passing yards (242.0) than the Raiders (225.4) in the conference. Due to injuries, each of the top three teams in the FC standings started their reserve QBs last week.

– If the current NAIA Top 25 poll were to stand, the Raiders would end the season having played four of their 10 games against nationally ranked teams – a number they have surpassed only once in the regular season since joining Frontier. After UMW, their next two games are on the road at No. 19 Montana Tech and No. 9 College of Idaho, and then they will return home to face a Carroll team that has been out of the rankings and is currently receiving votes.

SOU’s Imarion Kelly breaks tackles on his way to the end zone for a score during a recent game at Raider Stadium in Ashland. [Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune]

Comments are closed.