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One last chance for the Lights in Havre

Northern braces for Southern Oregon's high-flying attack on senior day

 

November 3, 2017

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson

Montana State University-Northern senior tight end Jess Krahn, and the Lights will host Frontier Conference champion Southern Oregon Saturday at Blue Pony Stadium. Krahn and the Northern seniors will be honored before the game.

The Montana State University-Northern football program has faced a lot of adversity in the past few weeks, but Saturday, in its home finale, it won't get any easier, not with seventh-ranked Southern Oregon coming to town.

For the Lights (0-8, 1-8), it will be senior day and it will also provide the team with a chance to pull a massive upset over the Raiders (8-0, 8-0), who will clinch the Frontier Conference championship outright with a win.

"Right now, it's about these guys continuing to fight and compete," Northern interim head coach Jake Eldridge said. "It's about taking that next step for this program. But no matter what is going on with us or what our record is, it's important that we continue to keep fighting and trying to get better."

Of course, the Northern defense, which allows 52.3 points per game, last in the Frontier Conference, will have its hands full with a Southern Oregon offense that averages 478 yards and 36.8 points per game, both good enough for second in the Frontier behind only Montana Tech.

The key to the Southern Oregon offense is quarterback Tanner Trosin, who has thrown for more than 2,800 yards and 20 touchdown passes. In eight games, he is averaging 360 passing yards per game, which leads the NAIA.

"The quarterback is very good," Eldridge said. "He broke his leg last year and was out, but he is very good and it starts with him. We are going to have to get some pressure on him and try to move him off his spot and affect him in the pocket. We don't necessarily need to get sacks, but we have to get pressure."

While Trosin is the conductor of the Raider's dynamic offense, he gets plenty of help from three very talented receivers, starting with Bronsen Ader, who has 39 receptions for 697 yards and four touchdowns. Matt Bourdeaux is another big-play threat with 26 catches for 501 yards and two touchdowns, while Jordan Suell is the touchdown guy with 26 receptions for 597 yards and seven scores.

"Their quarterback is really good," Eldridge said. "But they also have three really good receivers, who all have more than 500 yards. So we are going to have to do our best to contain them and we are going to have to tackle and get guys on the ground, which is something we have struggled with recently."

If there is one weakness for the Raiders offense, it's the running game, which ranks last in the Frontier with 111 yards per game. Southern Oregon, as a team, also averages just 3.7 yards per carry. Rey Vega is the top ball carrier. He has 345 yards and five touchdowns on the season. Trosin is the second leading rusher with 287 yards and six rushing touchdowns, making him a threat to throw and run.

As Eldridge alluded to, applying pressure on Trosin will be key, but since the Lights have just six sacks all season, it will need to find a way to generate more. One source could be Josh Wright, who has a team-high three sacks, including one last week against Carroll.

When Northern has the ball, pass protection will be a huge issue, as the Raiders lead the Frontier and the nation in sacks with 41.5. Sean Rodgers has led the charge for the Southern Oregon defense, boasting team-highs in sacks (9) and tackles for loss (11.5).

"He leads the league with nine sacks," Eldridge said. "They get after the passer. For us, we need to try and control the football and run the football. We need to try and stay out of those third-and-long situations, where they can pin their ears back and rush, so for us, doing well on first and second down and keeping third down more manageable is huge, that way we can open up the playbook a little and dictate to them instead of getting stuck in third-and-long and letting them come after the passer."

With an average of 333 yards per game, Northern comes into Saturday's game with the least productive offense in the Frontier. Bryce Missey will get the start again for Northern. He comes in completing 33 percent of his passes, while throwing two touchdowns and two interceptions. Freshman Dylan Cook has also been getting snaps and has two touchdowns, compared to one pick.

The Lights rank sixth in the Frontier in terms of rushing yards, with 138 per game and their ground game is led by Trey Blanchard, who 95 carries for 514 yards (5.4 YPC) and two touchdowns. Marvin Williams is the top target in the passing game and leads the team with 30 receptions for 374 yards and five touchdowns. Caymus Thomas also has 24 receptions for 225 yards and a touchdown.

Win or lose, the Lights will be honoring their senior class which features Donovan Garner, Corey Lee, Jess Krahn, Garet Fowler, Kagen Khameneh, Steven Fernandez, Tommy Langley, Brooks Dunn, Dakota Schelling, Mitchell Harmon and Beau Wilhelm.

"I think the first that comes to mind, especially with the guys who have been here for four or five years, is their loyalty to the program," Eldridge said. "It hasn't been the best situation for them their entire career, but just the fact that those guys have stuck it out and been loyal, to me that says a heck of a lot more about who they are than any stats or anything on the football field could every say."

Northern and Southern Oregon will meet Saturday inside Blue Pony Stadium with kickoff set for 12 p.m.

Senior Day

MSU-Northern Lights (0-8, 1-8) vs #7 Southern

Oregon Raiders (8-0, 8-0)

Saturday, 12 p.m.

Blue Pony Stadium

Streaming: http://www.msun.edu/athletics

Radio: 92.5 KPQX FM

Twitter: Twitter/Havredaily

Game Day Issue Inside

 

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