Story by Josh McDermott, SOU Athletics
ASHLAND – Southern Oregon University may still be working out the kinks in its passing game, but the offense has all the firepower it needs at the moment in running back Rey Vega.
Vega, the 5-foot-10, 205-pound senior from Modesto, Calif., turned in another explosive performance to lead the No. 4-ranked Raiders in a 35-28 win against The College of Idaho on Saturday afternoon at Raider Stadium. On 24 carries, he rushed for 158 yards and a pair of touchdowns – a 35-yarder in the first quarter, and a 22-yarder in the fourth that put SOU up by two touchdowns with five minutes left.
The Raiders went to 2-0, clinching the victory when Dareion Bell recovered Kyle Mitchell's onside kick with 1:14 left and Vega delivered the last first-down they needed with his final 11 yards.
The Yotes, picked to finish third in the Frontier Conference, dropped to 0-3 for the second year in a row. They out-gained the Raiders, 392-306, and were boosted by a pair of Jayden Dawson interceptions. His second gave them the ball down 27-21 a few minutes into the fourth quarter, and after the teams traded punts they had possession again with a chance to take the lead.
But with 5:32 to play, SOU's Xavier Smith picked off Darius-James Peterson for his first career interception deep in Yotes territory. Two players later, Vega shot through the middle, juked a couple defenders and skated into the end zone untouched.
Vega went over 100 yards for the second game in a row and the fourth time in six outings dating back to last year. He's tallied a rushing touchdown in eight consecutive games – his second against the Yotes made him the ninth player in team history with 20 career rushing TDs – and has posted 14 total TDs in that span.
Raider quarterback Wyatt Hutchinson finished 17-of-27 for 141 yards. It was SOU's lowest passing total in 32 games going back to 2015, but he got the Raiders started by completing 11 of his first 13 attempts and running in a 14-yard score. Marcus Montano's 34-yard field goal as time expired in the second quarter made it 24-14, and his 23-yard make accounted for the only points of the third.
Peterson was limited to 114 yards passing on a 10-of-18 showing, and he was sacked five times – twice by defensive end Sean Rogers, who moved into the No. 3 spot on SOU's career list with 24 ½ sacks. Peterson gained 69 yards on the ground, however, and had a pair of second-half rushing TDs after Dominic Garzoli's got loose for a 77-yard score in the first.
Bronsen Ader's six receptions and 62 yards led all Raider receivers. Defensively, Tyson Cooper posted a team-high seven tackles while Tre Holmes, John Jackson Jr. and Jake Regino were credited with the other sacks.
The Raiders have won 12 consecutive regular-season games since the beginning of last year, two away from a 71-year-old school record. They'll host Montana Tech at 1 p.m. next Saturday.