ASHLAND, Ore. - Southern Oregon scored the first 34 points as the 12th-ranked Raiders coasted to a 46-28 upset victory over No. 7 Montana Tech to clinch a share of the 2012 Frontier Conference championship Saturday afternoon in the NAIA Game of the Week.
The Raiders' sixth consecutive win gives SOU an 8-2 record to conclude the regular season, tying Montana Tech's 8-2 mark to split the conference crown between the two teams. Montana Tech will earn the conference's automatic bid to the NAIA championship series, with the Raiders' ranking and strong finish to the season all but guaranteeing an at-large bid. The NAIA will announce the final rankings and first round pairings Sunday afternoon.
Southern Oregon honored the 14 seniors on the 2012 squad prior to the contest, and the Raiders clinched their ninth consecutive home win stretching back over the past two seasons. Their home winning streak is the longest SOU has put together since the 1961-63 teams won 10 in a row.
Austin Dodge passed for five touchdowns and 486 yards, while Manny Barragan rushed for a career-best 197 yards on 19 carries. He scored a rushing touchdown and added a receiving touchdown and 75 receiving yards on three catches. Patrick Donahue led SOU with eight catches for 158 yards and a score, while Cole McKenzie tallied seven catches for 142 yards and a touchdown.
Mike Olson scored a pair of touchdowns and SOU finished the game with four scoring plays of at least 60 yards. The Raiders built a 46-7 lead early in the fourth quarter before the Orediggers scored three late touchdowns to reach the final score of 46-28.
Coming into the game, Montana Tech boasted one of the NAIA's top-ranked pass rushes, but it was the SOU defensive line that wreaked havoc throughout the game. While the Orediggers did not tally a single sack, SOU's defense finished with six sacks for a total of 43 yards. Kalii Robinson led SOU with 12 tackles, while Austin Smith finished with a pair of sacks for the Raiders.
Pat Hansen led Montana Tech with 162 rushing yards on 31 carries, while Nick Baker threw for 260 yards and three touchdowns. Mike Touzinsky led the MT defense with nine tackles. Southern Oregon totaled 697 yards of offense, while Montana Tech finished with 405 yards.
Southern Oregon put five touchdowns on the board before Montana Tech found the end zone. The Raiders took a 6-0 lead on a 4-yard Dodge pass to McKenzie midway through the first quarter, with the extra point attempt blocked. Mike Olson ran it in from three yards out early in the second quarter to make it 13-0, and on the Raiders' next possession Barragan busted a 70-yard run to go up 20-0.
Donahue hauled in a 60-yard scoring pass a couple minutes later as Southern Oregon took a 27-0 lead into the halftime break. The Raiders received to open the second half, and Dodge found Olson from 10 yards out to cap a 10-play, 66-yard drive and put the hosts up 34-0.
Montana Tech found the end zone for the first time on its ensuing drive when Baker hit James Roberts from four yards out to finish off an 11-play drive and put the Orediggers on the board. The Raiders responded on the next play, however, as Barragan took a screen pass 66 yards for the score to put SOU up 40-6.
The Raiders' final score came less than 30 seconds into the fourth quarter, when Dodge hooked up with Justin Otaguro for a 64-yard touchdown pass to make it 46-7. From that point Montana Tech put together three short scoring drives to pull within 18 points at 46-28. A pair of Baker touchdown passes to Trent Thomas and Alec Bray sandwiched a short Hansen run before the Raider offense lined up in victory formation to clinch the conference co-championship.