ashland.news
July 23, 2024

SOU’s 2023 Raider Stadium debut set for Saturday

Southern Oregon played a sound first half two weeks ago against College of Idaho but the game slipped away thereafter in the Raiders' season opener. Photo courtesy of Stephanie Hale
September 14, 2023

The Raiders will take on the Willamette Bearcats

By SOU Sports Information

ASHLAND — The last time Southern Oregon defeated Willamette, current Raiders head coach Berk Brown was in his first season on staff and offensive coordinator Greg Stewart was in his final season in uniform, which is to say: it’s been a while.

Matching up with the NCAA Division III-affiliated Bearcats (1-1) for the first time since 2011, SOU (0-1) will attempt to get Brown his first win in the team’s 2023 Raider Stadium debut at 4 p.m. Saturday.

The Raiders got the only bye on their calendar out of the way last week after opening with a nonconference loss at No. 8-ranked College of Idaho.

The Bearcats are a team in flux. They started with a 24-21 win at La Verne (Calif.), after which they dismissed fifth-year head coach Isaac Parker and went on to take a 31-point loss at Lewis & Clark.

Tim Rude, in his third year on staff, was named interim coach of the Bearcats ahead of their second outing. They haven’t won more than two games since 2016, and their last winning season was nine years ago.

The Raiders are 14-16 in the series against Willamette and, since getting their most recent win in 2007, have lost four matchups in a row.

The teams were formerly both members of the NAIA’s Columbia Football Association, meeting annually for conference games from 1985-94. The Bearcats left the CFA in 1996, advanced to the NAIA championship game in ’97, and bolted for the NCAA in ’98, but the teams continued to play regularly until SOU joined the Frontier Conference in 2012.

The rivalry is renewed due in large part to the Frontier’s new eight-game regular season format, which left the Raiders with more room for nonconference dates.

HOME HISTORY: The Raiders have won nine of their last 11 home openers, but Saturday marks their first nonconference regular season game in Ashland since 2011. SOU enters the matchup with an all-time record of 107-68 at Raider Stadium. From 2012-18, the Raiders went 30-4 at home. Since the start of 2019, they’ve gone 5-9, including a 1-4 mark last season.

LAST TIME OUT: A final score of 42-16 left no hint of the Raiders’ early dominance in their Sept. 2 debut at then-No. 12 College of Idaho, the four-time defending Frontier champions. Of the first 40 plays from scrimmage, the Raiders possessed the ball for 36 of them and had two field goals to show for back-to-back drives spanning 21 minutes combined.

The Yotes broke through for their first TD with 45 seconds left in the first half, returned an interception for a TD moments later, and outscored SOU 28-7 following the break. C of I receiver Brock Richardson finished with 163 reception yards while the Raiders, playing without injured quarterback Matt Struck in the second half, totaled 260 yards of offense as a team.

After sitting out last season, senior running back Avery McCuaig provided a reminder in his first game back of the bruising dimension he adds to the SOU offense. The Alberta product rushed 12 times for 65 yards at C of I with a long of 24 yards, averaging 5.4 per attempt.

McQuaig has averaged 4.3 per attempt over six career games for the Raiders and gone for at least 54 yards all three games in which he’s gotten 10 or more carries.

BRIEFLY:

— Jackson Clemmer, SOU’s 6-foot-6 tight end, scored the first touchdown of the season on a 64-yard reception and finished with four catches for 86 yards. Those totals were the highest for a Raider tight end since 2016, when Ben Bachman made six catches for 101 yards at UC Davis.

— SOU’s new kicker, Brian Batres, made all three of his field-goal attempts in his debut, including a 48-yarder that matched the sixth longest in Raider history. The others were from 34 and 23 yards deep.

— Jordan Faifai — who went 17-13 as a true freshman member of the SOU wrestling team last season — became the first Raider to collect an interception in his debut since Monti Wilson in 2012 by picking off Andy Peters on C of I’s first drive of the third quarter.

— The Week 1 loss proved to be as costly on the injury front as on the scoreboard. Right guard Nick Espinoza and center Gustavo Mendez are no longer listed on the depth chart, and neither is linebacker Ty Glumbik, the Raiders’ second leading tackler last year among returning players. Senior quarterback Matt Struck’s injury was less serious: he did not appear in the second half after completing 13 of 16 passes for 95 yards in the first, but is listed as the starter again this week.

Picture of Ryan

Ryan

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