Courtesy: Southern Oregon University Athletics
LA GRANDE, Ore. – The Southern Oregon University football conjured a foolproof remedy to its recent late-game woes on Saturday: put up the second-highest point total in program history and leave Eastern Oregon behind well before the final buzzer.
The Raiders bolted to a 27-point halftime lead en route to a 73-20 clubbing of the Mountaineers for their first win of the season in Frontier Conference play at Community Stadium.
Quarterback Austin Dodge tossed five of his six touchdown passes in the first half, including four directed at former South Medford star wide receiver Matt Retzlaff, who also rushed for a TD. Sophomore Zach Marshall set a career high with 126 yards on 17 carries, one of which went for a three-yard score to erase EOU’s only lead in the first quarter.
Retzlaff was only the third Raider to catch four TD passes in school history and the first since Alphonso Harris did it against Willamette in 1993.
The Raiders (1-3 overall, 1-2 Frontier) have now toppled the Mountaineers (0-4, 0-3) in six straight meetings. In three games dating back to last season, they’ve outscored the Mountaineers 204-77.
Backup quarterback Chris Kammel hit Jessie Needles for an eight-yard TD with 9:34 remaining, but that would be the last time the Raiders found the end zone as they just missed out on breaking the school record of 76 points they put on Montana Western in 2012.
SOU’s 620 total yards of offense were good for 10th-best in school history. The Raiders stuck the Mountaineers with 1,348 yards last year.
They wasted little time in the latest clash as Dodge had 249 yards on 16-of-19 passing in the first half. Nine of those passes found Retzlaff for 137 yards, and the drives resulting in his TD catches from 14, eight, three and 10 yards out were interrupted only by a drive capped by a score from his brother, Ryan, on a four-yard pass from Dodge.
Dodge finished 29-42 for 355 yards and one interception. Matt Retzlaff, who has 12 TDs through four games, brought in 10 catches for 141 yards. Ryan Retzlaff had eight receptions for 112 yards, and Medford native Jeremy Scottow had seven catches for 79 yards.
Sean Tow complemented Marshall in the backfield with 13 carries for 85 yards. The Raiders netted 238 yards on the ground, their most in two years, and averaged 6.4 per carry.
The defense held up its end of the bargain, too, by holding the Mountaineers to 6-15 on third-down conversions. Randy Tyler led the Raiders in tackles for the second straight game with six while Julius Rucker had the defensive highlight of the day with a 30-yard interception return to put the Raiders up 66-20 at the start of the 4th quarter.
EOU quarterback Zach Bartlow completed 18 of 25 passes for 120 yards. Chris McGinnis-Parker rushed for 125 yards on 14 carries.
The 53-point margin was the most lopsided since the Raiders and Mountaineers first started hooking up in 1930.
Southern Oregon plays at winless Dickinson State next before the first of three straight home games for the Raiders starting Oct. 5 against 12th-ranked Montana Tech.