The Thunderbird football team emerged victorious over No. 16/18 Weber State on Saturday night in Ogden, as they claimed the Beehive Bowl trophy with a 32-16 win over their in-state rival.
“It’s a great win,” SUU head coach Demario Warren said following the victory. “We’re right back in the hunt for a Big Sky Championship and we knew that’s what we had to do, we had to go beat a ranked team on the road and we were able to do that.”
Warren added, “We’ve won four of the last five, so we know where we are in the series and we’ve got to make sure we’re getting better each and every week.”
The Thunderbirds are now 4-2 on the season and 2-1 in the Big Sky Conference.
The T-Bird defense was huge on Saturday evening, as they did not allow the Wildcats to score an offensive touchdown.
The Thunderbirds struck on their opening drive of the game, when quarterback Patrick Tyler found tight end Logan Parker across the middle for a 78-yard pitch and catch on the second play of the game. The strike quickly put the T-Birds on top 7-0.
There wasn’t a whole lot of offense in the opening quarter, as the only other score came when the Wildcats hit a field goal with 1:12 to go, leaving the score 7-3 after a quarter of football.
The Wildcats added a second field goal early in the second quarter, pulling closer to 7-6.
On Southern Utah’s next drive the Thunderbirds drove the length of the field and Tyler found tight end McCoy Hill from 19 yards away to put the Thunderbirds up 13-6.
Immediately after the T-Birds took the seven point lead, the Wildcats returned the kickoff 100 yards as Rashid Shaheed tied the game up at 13-13.
Before the end of the half, the Thunderbird defense got the team on the board as Chance Bearnson returned an interception off of WSU’s Justin Shaw to put the Thunderbirds up 20-13.
That stayed the Thunderbird lead going into the break.
After a Manny Berz field goal to start the third quarter, Tyler found Parker for the second time with 7:31 left in the period to put the Thunderbirds up 29-13. The Wildcats added on another field goal before the end of the third 15-minute period, allowing the Thunderbirds to take a 29-16 advantage into the final quarter.
The Thunderbirds increased their lead to 32-16 with a second Berz field goal with seven and a half minutes to play in the contest.
That would end up being the final score of the contest, as the Thunderbirds left Ogden with a victory.
Tyler threw for 281 yards and three touchdowns for the Thunderbirds on 20 completions. He also carried the ball for 36 yards. Parker was Tyler’s top target for the evening, with six catches for 118 yards and two touchdowns.
SUU’s Chinedu Ahanonu had 13 tackles to lead the team, with 1.5 tackles for loss on the evening. Mike Needham finished with 11 tackles and two tackles for loss.
“For me it’s always been intense in the sense that it’s two good teams coming together, and the in-state trophy and everything,” Ahanonu said about the rivalry. “This one is for the community, for the school and for all the guys that are going for us.”
Weber State’s starting quarterback Stefan Cantwell was unable to play the entire game, and was replaced with Justin Shaw. Cantwell had 113 yards passing.
The Thunderbirds had 487 offensive yards on the evening, compared to Weber State’s 250.
The Thunderbirds will be back home next Saturday, as they’ll take on the Eagles of Eastern Washington. Kickoff for that game is scheduled for 5 p.m.
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SUU Athletic Strategic Communications