The Southern Oregon University football team appears to be ready for next week’s showdown with No. 2 Carroll.
The 22nd-ranked Raiders unleashed all of their considerable offensive firepower and also showed off a stout defense in a 51-14 season-opening victory over Menlo on Saturday at Atherton, Calif.
Southern Oregon scored touchdowns on its first three possessions, built a 34-point halftime lead and outgained the Oaks in total offense 642 yards to 214 to gain some momentum heading into its Frontier Conference opener against Carroll.
SOU senior quarterback Austin Dodge completed 23 of 37 passes for 321 yards and four touchdowns before bowing out with the Raiders comfortably ahead midway through the third quarter. On his final play of the game, Dodge faked a handoff , then sprinted through an opening on his way to a 19-yard touchdown run.
Nine Southern Oregon receivers had catches led by Dylan Young, who had seven catches for 110 yards and three touchdowns.
True freshman Keegan Lawrence rushed for 61 yards and two touchdowns, including the Raiders' first score of the season with 10:33 to go in the opening quarter.
SOU's defense pitched a first-half shutout and limited the Oaks to 128 yards passing, most in garbage time. The Raiders also had three sacks for losses of 19 yards.
The Raiders took a 41-0 lead early in the third quarter after Dodge found Young in the corner of the end zone from 35 yards away. It was Dodge’s final touchdown pass of the day and Young’s third receiving, and it put Dodge over 300 yards passing.
Southern Oregon wasted no time taking control, scoring touchdowns on their first three drives to take a 21-0 lead in the opening quarter. Lawrence completed two of those drives with short runs, and Dodge hit Young with a 31-yard touchdown pass for the other.
The situation became even more bleak for the hosts in the second, when Menlo drove to the Raider 5 before turning the ball over when quarterback Wade Hawkins was stuffed on a fourth-and-goal keeper. Twelve plays later Dodge, on the run and facing a third-and-five, hit Young in the back of the end zone with a 7-yard TD pass to make it 34-0.
Hawkins was 9-for-15 passing for 47 yards.
That left only two minutes before halftime, but the Raiders forced Menlo into a three-and-out to get the ball back at their own 35. Dodge’s 20-yard pass to Jeremy Scottow put the Raiders in Menlo territory, and a key pass interference penalty on third down gave the Raiders a first down at the Menlo 23. Three plays later Dodge completed an 8-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Retzlaff with 12 seconds to go in the half, and the point-after gave the Raiders a 34-0 lead.