Defending national champion ends Baker’s season
Southern Oregon University’s football team entered Saturday’s NAIA quarterfinal matchup with Baker ranked second in the nation in third-down conversions at 52.2 percent.
The No. 7 Raiders showed that the stat was not a fluke when they defeated the No. 2 Wildcats, 24-19, at Liston Stadium behind timely third-down conversions by quarterback Tanner Trosin.
“There were multiple times where we could have made a play and decided the outcome,” Baker coach Mike Grossner said. “That’s a good football team, and they made about two more plays than we did. The opportunity was there, and our guys know that.”
Trosin set the tone with touchdown drives to begin both halves.
With Southern Oregon pinned at its one-yard line to begin its first possession, Trosin completed two passes on third-and-long to Jeremy Scottow on the way to a 99-yard scoring drive.
“He’s done it all year,” Grossner said. “He’s a good quarterback. He’s kind of a gunslinger and makes those plays.”
SOU running back Melvin Mason capped the drive with a one-yard touchdown run and added another score of 19 yards in the second quarter to help the Raiders to a 14-10 edge at the half. Mason rushed for 89 yards on 19 carries, but the Wildcats’ primary focus was to contain Trosin, who was SOU’s leading rusher going into Saturday.
The BU defense did limit Trosin to 46 rushing yards, but the SOU quarterback’s best run did not show up in the box score. On third-and-13 from the Baker 40, Trosin eluded several BU defenders in the backfield before launching a 60-yard touchdown pass to Matt Retzlaff on the Raiders’ first drive of the second half.
“I thought that was the biggest play of the day,” Grossner said. “I think about five or six guys had him wrapped up.”
The Wildcats (11-2) kept Trosin and the SOU offense in check after that — holding the Raiders to three points the rest of the way — but enough damage had been done.
Baker sophomore quarterback Logan Brettell rallied the Wildcats late, scoring on a six-yard touchdown run with 2:55 left to pull Baker within 24-19. The Wildcats had two shots at a two-point conversion after Brettell was hit late to draw a SOU personal-foul penalty, but BU fullback Alex Stebbins was stopped on the second attempt.
“We finally got a late-hit call, which we had been waiting for all game.Since the trainers came out on the field, I had to come off the field,” Brettell said. “We just got stuffed on that play (Stebbins’ run), and that was a big turning point in the game.”
The Raiders (10-2) were able to run out the clock after a defensive-pass-interference penalty on fourth-and-seven with 1:30 remaining. Baker did not have any timeouts remaining, so Southern Oregon went to victory formation.
“We just didn’t have enough time on the clock,” senior linebacker Tucker Pauley said. “I think if we would have had more time on the clock, we would have had the chance to give the offense the ball back and win the game.”
Trosin and Brettell finished with comparable numbers in the showdown of mobile quarterbacks. Trosin completed 19 of 30 passes for 261 yards, the touchdown to Retzlaff and first-half interceptions to Pauley, Darrian and Winston. Pauley and Winston both rank in the top 10 of the NAIA with six and seven interceptions, respectively.
“We saw some tendencies with how they lined up their receivers,” Pauley said. “Coach (Jason) Thoren (defensive coordinator), he caught on to a couple of things, and he was yelling it from the sidelines and put in a very great call. It just happened that when I turned, the ball was in my face.”
Brettell, who filled in for an injured Nick Marra for the second straight week, was 22-for-35 with a 15-yard touchdown pass to Quanzee Johnson and one interception.
“They were really sound and disciplined and were really driving in on our slants all game, so we hit them with a double move,” Brettell said of his touchdown pass to Johnson. “I laid it out for Q, and he made a great play.”
While the second home playoff loss in three years stung for the Wildcats, Grossner already has high hopes for 2016 with a large contingent of his roster returning.
“We’ll learn,” Grossner said. “We have five, six seniors that were starting for us, but we have some guys who played behind them that have a lot of experience.”
So. Oregon 7 7 7 3 — 24
Baker 0 10 3 6 — 19
SO — Melvin Mason 1 run (Marcus Montano kick)
B — Abram Garcia 36 field goal
SO — Melvin Mason 19 run (Montano kick)
B — Quanzee Johnson 15 pass from Logan Brettell (Garcia kick)
SO — Matt Retzlaff 60 pass from Tanner Trosin (Montano kick)
B — Garcia 28 field goal
SO — Montano 12 field goal
B — Brettell 6 run (run failed)