SUU Beats Western Illinois for Homecoming
SUU got its first win of the season on Saturday against Western Illinois.
Here's the press release about the matchup from SUU Media Relations by Regan Hunsaker: (Full article)
CEDAR CITY, Utah - Under the bright lights of Eccles Coliseum, Thunderbird fans witnessed an intense gridiron clash between the Western Illinois Leathernecks (WIU) and Southern Utah. The Homecoming game was brimming with heart-stopping moments and electrifying plays. It was the Thunderbirds who emerged triumphant, sealing their victory with a resounding 37-17 final score.
1st Quarter: Thunderbirds Take Early Lead
As the game kicked off the Thunderbirds made their presence felt with a quick drive down the field. Tyler Graham delivered a 31-yard field goal, marking the game's first points. Shortly after, SUU quarterback Justin Miller connected with Zach Mitchell on a 10-yard touchdown pass, and with Graham's successful extra point, the Thunderbirds commanded a 10-0 lead at the end of the first quarter.
2nd Quarter: Leathernecks Claw Back
The second quarter witnessed a resurgence from the Leathernecks. Kicker Owen Valek displayed his accuracy with an impressive 49-yard field goal, putting WIU on the scoreboard. However, Southern Utah's Targhee Lambson responded with authority, scoring a powerful 2-yard rushing touchdown up the middle. The teams exchanged blows as Matt Morrissey of WIU found Jaylin Jackson for a 44-yard touchdown pass. Ludovick Choquette then added a 1-yard rushing touchdown for WIU, capping an eventful second quarter with the score tied at 17-17.
3rd Quarter: Thunderbirds Regain Control
Southern Utah regained momentum in the third quarter. Targhee Lambson powered through WIU's defense for his second rushing touchdown of the game. The strong run gave the Thunderbirds a 24-17 lead at the end of the third quarter.
4th Quarter: Thunderbirds Seal the Deal
The final quarter belonged to the Thunderbirds as they continued to assert their dominance. Justin Miller orchestrated a 43-yard touchdown pass to Isaiah Wooden on a beautiful double move. Defensive back Cody Coleman added an exclamation point with a 60-yard interception return for a touchdown. The game concluded with Southern Utah celebrating a commanding 37-17 victory.
Southern Utah's offensive leaders showcased their prowess in the game, contributing significantly to the Thunderbirds' impressive victory. Quarterback Justin Miller led the charge through the air, completing 24 of his 35 pass attempts for a total of 242 yards. Miller's accuracy and composure in the pocket were evident as he orchestrated two crucial touchdown passes, including a 43-yard bomb to Isaiah Wooden that left a lasting mark on the game. Despite facing some pressure with one sack, Miller's ability to bounce back from some early struggles and connect with his receiving corps played a pivotal role in Southern Utah's success.
In the receiving department, several key players made significant contributions. Zach Mitchell led the way with 6 receptions for 78 yards, including a 24-yard touchdown reception that set the tone for the Thunderbirds. Joshua Acord showcased his reliability with 8 receptions for 61 yards, while Isaiah Wooden made a significant impact with 4 catches for 60 yards, including a touchdown grab. Targhee Lambson and Braedon Wissler also chipped in with receptions, rounding out a balanced and effective passing attack for Southern Utah. With these offensive leaders stepping up and making big plays, the Thunderbirds demonstrated their ability to move the chains and put points on the board.
Linebacker Kohner Cullimore stood out as a relentless force on the defensive line, recording 6 tackles, including 2.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks. His disruptive presence in the backfield forced hurried decisions by the opposing quarterback and included a crucial quarterback hurry that disrupted the passing game. Cullimore's ability to penetrate and disrupt plays in the backfield was instrumental in the Thunderbirds' defensive success.
In the secondary, Quadir Lockett-Smith showcased his coverage skills with 6 tackles and a pass breakup. His knack for reading plays and disrupting passing lanes played a pivotal role in limiting Western Illinois' offensive opportunities. Lockett-Smith's tenacity and coverage were evident throughout the game, contributing to the Thunderbirds' defensive dominance. Additionally, other defensive leaders like Aubrey Nellems and Cody Coleman made key contributions with tackles for loss, sacks, and a game-changing interception return for a touchdown. Together, Southern Utah's defensive stalwarts stifled the opposing offense, generated turnovers, and disrupted plays, playing an instrumental role in their impressive victory.