HELENA, Mont. — The gap between Southern Oregon and Carroll kept widening Saturday afternoon at Nelson Stadium, where the No. 3-ranked Raiders turned the Saints into their first shutout victim in 15 years.
In a methodical 27-0 win, SOU disarmed the homecoming crowd early by lending the Saints just 50 first-half yards and staking to a 20-0 lead by the break. The Raiders are 4-0 for the seventh time in team history going into the bye week that'll precede a trip to No. 23 Rocky Mountain (Mont.).
The Saints (3-2 overall, 2-2 Frontier) — who wrapped up with 199 yards, the second-lowest total for an SOU opponent ever in a Frontier game — were blanked at home for the first time in at least 20 years. SOU's most recent shutout had been against Montana State-Northern on Oct. 11, 2003.
"I liked the way our players responded to that type of atmosphere," SOU head coach Charlie Hall said. "We got off to a good start, made some big plays right away and just played with a lot of confidence."
Carroll's Kolby Milloy mustered 63 passing yards, the lowest total for an opposing quarterback against the Raiders in five years, and was picked off by Tyson Cooper on his first attempt of the game. The interception led to Marcus Montano's second field goal in as many SOU possessions, and after a Saints three-and-out, Wyatt Hutchinson connected with Isaac Hurd for a 55-yard touchdown that made it 13-0 on the first play of the second quarter.
Hutchinson, SOU's sophomore QB, had his sharpest day of the season with 15-of-21 passing for 194 yards. He hookedup Jason Shelley with a 41-yard reception in the fourth quarter that went for his second TD pass.
The game was well out of reach by then.
The futility of the Saints offense struck again with 8:30 left in the second quarter when Shane Sipes fumbled a carry that was recovered by James Porter at Carroll's 30-yard line. The short field eventually led to Austin May's 1-yard TD rush.
On their first possession of the third quarter, the Saints were stopped at SOU's 4-yard line and lined up for a field goal. Tre Holmes preserved the shutout by blocking the 21-yard attempt.
Cooper led the Raiders with nine tackles, and the interception was the fourth of his career. Devvon Gage and Luke Goins totaled seven tackles apiece.
Senior running back Rey Vega's touchdown streak ended at nine games, but he was still productive with 78 yards on 16 carries. Hurd had a team-high 66 reception yards and Bronsen Ader made six catches for 58. As a collective, the Raiders had 342 yards.
Carroll running back Major Ali, who'd averaged 127 rushing yards in his previous two outings, was kept at 53 on 16 touches.
SOU has won four in a row against the Saints - the last three by an average of 22.7 points. The win was the Raiders' 50th as members of the Frontier Conference.