Football falls short against Western Oregon

This past Saturday, the Southern Oregon Football team faced off against Western Oregon in a highly anticipated match.

Both entered Saturday’s contest sitting at 2-2 and each were hungry for a win, especially Southern Oregon.

For twelve straight years, the Raiders have been unable to defeat Western Oregon and it seemed quite possible that the Raiders would finally overcome their archrivals.

The Raiders opened up the game with three scores on their first three possessions. A 16-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Paul Sweeney to Isiah Watson, along with a 21-yard and 42-yard field goals from senior Tyler Crowley gave the Raiders a 13-0 lead.

Towards the end of the first half, the Wolves blocked a Crowley punt deep in Raider territory and capitalize before halftime to make the score 13-7.

After halftime, the battle between the two teams began.

A wild back-and-forth scoring spree between the two teams left the score standing at 23-21 to the Raiders with only 10:30 left on the clock.

However a field goal by the Wolves put the Raiders behind by one and desperate to regain the lead.

Looking to respond quickly, Southern Oregon received the ball off the kick off and brought it back to the SOU 25 yard-line.  The Raiders were faced with their first challenge, a 3rd on 7 on the 28.  Sweeney completed it to senior receiver Vance Beach for the 1st down.  The next challenge; another third down.  Sweeney again connected with Beach for another first down.

However after several incomplete passes, the Raiders were left with only one last chance to grab a first down.  Once again, Sweeney connected with Beach who battled for a first down, leaving the Raiders on the Wolve’s 25 yard-line with less than two minutes left.

With one timeout left and starting junior running back Brandon Baldwin out with an injury earlier in the drive, the Raiders turned to junior running back Michael Springer.

On first and second downs Springer picked up 6-yards on two carries.  On third and four, Springer had another shot to pick up the first down but was stopped at the line for no gain.  Fourth and four on the Western Oregon 19 yard-line.

With four seconds remaining, Southern Oregon called their final time-out with Crowley and the field goal team entering the fray.

With both teams set, play began again until Western Oregon called a time-out right before Crowley connected with the ball.  It was a ploy to distract the kicker and unfortunately for the Raiders it worked.

Crowley’s kick passed just under the crossbar signaling the end of the game and yet another defeat at the hands of Western Oregon.

“I thought it was two tough teams slugging it out,” said head SOU football coach Steve Helminiak. “It was a tough game till the end.  It was a battle of inches.”

The Raiders drop to 2-3 this season as they prepare for a big game against Central Washington next Saturday in Washington.

Sweeny, in his first start after taking over for the injuried Mike McDonald, went 22 for 34 to record 221 yards and two touchdowns.  Beach lead all receivers with 8 receptions for 124 yards and a touchdown.

On defense, senior linebacker JT Gilmore lead all tackles with 11 and junior defensive back Austin Cantrell had a pick for 21 yards.

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