HELENA — No. 23 Carroll College hits the skies bright and early to head to Ashland, Oregon, to take on the Southern Oregon University Raiders. When they saw the Raiders at home back in September, the Fighting Saints pulled out a comfortable 26-14 win. Carroll College has yet to beat SOU on the road since the Raiders joined the Frontier Conference back in 2012.
If there ever were a time for the Saints to take home a win on the road against the Raiders, it'd be with redshirt freshman wideout Chris Akulschin, the Frontier Conference Offensive Player of the Week, on their side.
“Unbelievable athlete you know just a pup coming out being a true or a redshirt freshman and growing you know his growth from Game one till now has just been outstanding. We knew it was there. We knew it was in him, I believed in him, the team believes in him and it just took a little while and pretty soon he's starting to really shine and the game is slowing down for him. So pretty special to see,” head coach Troy Purcell said of the POTW.
Akulschin had a career high 158 receiving yards and three receiving touchdowns in last week’s game against Eastern Oregon.
“Felt great. Yeah, obviously it just feels good to put in all that work over the offseason and to have it finally pay off. And yeah, we played well, as a team. It felt good to click on offense and just be able to get it done,” Akulschin said.
Looking forward to SOU, Carroll knows nothing will come easily. Purcell calls the team that the Saints beat back in September is a ''very much improved team," and says the tape from then and now looks completely different. "Their offense is explosive, their screen game is powerful, man, if that stuff gets going, it's hard to stop," he said.
With this SOU game being one of two games left in the regular season, getting to the playoffs has been a focus for the Fighting Saints.
“It's a playoff atmosphere around here, we got an opportunity, we're in the playoffs right now, as a mindset. You know, it's, you know, it's win or go home, you know, I mean, we do have one after this, you know, we get it, but to have that opportunity to see, you know, and everybody has those same opportunities that they want to believe in, they're gonna win a national championship, they're going to win a conference championship. And we mainly just focus on day by day play by play, and game by game, you know, but as you get towards the end, it's very evident that, you know, this is this is big,” Purcell said.
Carroll will look for their first road win against the Raiders since 2001. Kickoff is set for 2 p.m. at Raider Stadium.