July 23, 2024

Football: SOU falls to Montana State 31-21

SOU wide receiver Adrik Lamar (17) had three receptions for 31 yards in a SOU loss to Montana Tech Saturday at Raider Stadium. Bob Palermini photo
October 1, 2023

No. 11 Diggers pull away from Raiders in 2nd half

SOU Sports Information

ASHLAND – After facing its first deficit early in the second half, No. 11-ranked Montana Tech responded with touchdowns on three consecutive drives to defeat Southern Oregon 31-21 on Saturday afternoon at Raider Stadium.

The Diggers improved to 4-1 overall and 3-0 in the Frontier Conference, keeping their share of first place despite being without the services of all-star running back Blake Counts. They didn’t miss a beat with Landers Smith in his place: the 6-foot, 225-pound junior kept them in control by netting 110 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries, while Wyatt Alexander caught seven Blake Thelen passes for 143 yards.

SOU senior quarterback Matt Struck rushed for 88 yards and passed for 189 yards in the raiders 31-21 loss to Montana Tech in Ashland Saturday. Bob Palermini photo

The Raiders (1-3, 0-2) fell behind 10-0 early, but took their first lead at 14-10 four minutes into the third quarter when Matt Struck finished an 11-play drive by hitting Moku Noa for an 8-yard TD in the corner of the end zone.

The Diggers answered less than a minute later, as Thelen found a wide-open Alexander in stride for a 56-yard score. Tech stopped the Raiders 30 yards short of the end zone on their ensuing drive, then scored again as Christian Vetter got loose for a 24-yard TD rush to make it 24-14.

The student section was loud during SOU’s game vs Montana Tech Saturday. Bob Palermini photo

Payton Gonser intercepted Struck on the next play from scrimmage. A few minutes later, Thelen connected with Grant Kelly to make it a 17-point game.

Thelen completed 15-of-26 attempts for 215 yards, though he was picked off by both Spencer Kuffel and Seth Miller in the end zone. The Raiders also sacked him four times in the first half to keep the Diggers from getting away – Noah Turnbull teamed up with Alejandro Sanchez for two and had a solo effort, and Taye Courtney got the other sack — but Thelen went untouched after halftime.

The SOU cheer and dance team performed at halftime at the SOU game vs Montana Tech Saturday. Bob Palermini photo

Struck went 20-of-37 for 189 yards and two TDs, to Noa and Jackson Clemmer. He netted 72 yards on the ground, but no other Raider totaled more than 34 rushing yards against a defense led by Matt Whitcomb’s 10 tackles.

Avery McCuaig accounted for the Raiders’ final score, a 3-yard run that got them within 10 points with 10 minutes to play. Their comeback hopes diminished when Jadyn Downs intercepted a pass that was initially dropped in Tech territory with 1:33 to go.

The win was the Diggers’ fourth in a row. They’ve left three straight trips to Ashland with victories.

Freshman linebacker Iona Purcell registered a career-high 10 tackles and Kuffel had nine for the Raiders.

SOU is back on the road next week at Rocky Mountain (Mont.), which went to 3-2 overall and 1-2 in the Frontier with Saturday’s 45-21 loss at College of Idaho.

Tight end Jackson Clemmer (89) caught a 3-yard pass from SOU quarterback Matt Struck for a touchdown in the second quarter of the Cascade Conference game vs Montana Tech. Bob Palermini photo
SOU junior wide receiver Moku Noa caught an 8-yard pass from Matt Struck in the third quarter for a SOU touchdown. Bob Palermini photo
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Bert Etling

Bert Etling is the executive editor of Email him at

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