After winning the Cascade Collegiate Conference, Southern Oregon University’s Raider Football Team moved on to bigger and better things. This weekend in Waleska, Georgia they took part in the NAIA Football Semifinals with hopes of winning and making their way back to the National Championship, which they won back in 2014. Their opponent for the weekend’s game were the Reinhardt University Eagles who were undefeated and ranked #2, did I mention they also had home field advantage? The Raiders also came into the the game undefeated, but they certainly had their work cut out for them. Unfortunately, fortune did not favor the brave this time, with the Raiders giving up their winning streak to lose the game 37–34 in a close fought double overtime grudge match. I’ll take you through the game step by step so you can get the full scoop and see what went wrong and when the winning tides began to turn.
The first half was rough for the Raiders, which saw them give up three touchdowns, resulting in Reinhardt scoring a 26 yard run by quarterback Billy Hall and two receiving touchdowns for wide receiver Ronnie Chambliss. However, the Raiders did get on the board themselves during the first quarter when kicker Craig Contreras booted a 31 yard field goal and quarterback Tanner Trosin threw an incredible 96 yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Matt Boudreaux. During the second quarter the Raiders put up a big ol’ goose egg and the half ended with a score of 21–10 with Reinhardt in the lead.
Fortunately, the second half went much better for the Raiders with a touch down in both the 3rd and 4th quarters, which put them in the lead. The first touchdown came from an 18 yard touchdown pass from Tanner Trosin to running back Louis Macklin. The second came while there was under two minutes left in regulation and SOU was out of timeouts; the outcome seemed bleak to say the least. Defensive lineman Sean Rogers’ hit knocked the ball out of Billy Hall’s hands which resulted in an astonishing 54 yard fumble recovery by linebacker Isiah Carter which put the Raiders up 24–21.
It seemed as though Carter had given Southern Oregon the win, but with forty seconds left on the clock Reinhardt kicker Nick Marquez kicked a 48 yard field goal, the longest of his career, which tied the game at 24. The Raiders had one final shot to end the game and made it all the way down to Reinhardt’s 33 yard line with five seconds left on the clock. At this point kicker Jaxon Clark attempted a 50 yard field goal, which if completed would win the game and send them to the Championship in Daytona Beach to face the undefeated reigning champions, the Saint Francis Cougars. The kick had the distance but missed with a wide right, and just as midnight snuck up on Cinderella, the game clock struck zero. The two teams were locked in a dead heat, requiring overtime to decide a victor.
For the who don’t know how overtime in college football works, allow me to fill you in. Unlike in basketball officials don’t simply slap on another quarter and play through the time and whoever is in the lead when the clock runs out wins. In college football overtime there is no game clock, instead both teams get 1 possession each. Overtime starts at the opponents 25 yard line and a coin toss decides who gets possession first. If the game is still tied after both teams conclude their possessions another overtime is started, this time with the other team going first. This process continues until someone wins, which makes ties impossible.
The Eagles started the first overtime with the ball and chose to attack by repeatedly handing the ball off to running back Trevae Cain, who after 5 carries found his way to the end zone on a 2 yard run. After Nick Marquez kicked the extra point it was the Raiders’ turn to have possession, answering the call with Tanner Trosin’s touchdown pass to wide receiver Jordan Suell. This was marked as Trosin’s fourth touchdown of the game. Marcus Montano kicked the extra point and with the game tied at 31 a second overtime was needed, this time with the Raiders having first possession. A well fought match until this point, Southern Oregon began allowing the game to slip away from them. Reindhart’s defense got the stop and held the Raiders to a Marcus Montano field goal, which was less than ideal. This slip-up on the Raider’s part gave the Eagles a prime opportunity to go for the win.
The Eagles continued to utilize the same methods they had in the first overtime, giving the ball to Trevae Cain. Reindhart continued to grind the ball upfield and hope for the best, which to be frank, seemed to be effective strategy. However, the Eagles ran into a bit of a hiccup that almost cost them the game. The Raiders stopped them on 3rd down on the 3 yard line to make it 4th and 1. Rather than kick the chip shot field goal and keep the whole overtime machine going, Reindhart’s Coach James Miller decided to go for the first down in a do or die situation. Unfortunately for the Raiders it seems that Miller made the right call, with Cain running for the first down and scoring a touchdown on the very next play.
Game Over; Reindhart 37, Southern Oregon 34. In the blink of an eye the Raiders season is over. Southern Oregon had a hell of a run through the season and played great game, but in the end they fell short of victory. All we can do now is wish Reindhart the best in the Championship and look ahead to next season. See you there.