The Thunderbird football team knocked off the No. 8 Eastern Washington Eagles on Saturday night with a come from behind victory, ending at 46-28.
“Obviously this is a huge win for our program,” SUU head coach Demario Warren said. “Our guys just battled.”
This was SUU’s third victory over a Top 25 opponent this season, and the second in as many weeks. The win improves SUU to 5-2 on the season and 3-1 in Big Sky Conference play.
“It puts a goal right in front of us now,” Warren said when asked what the victory meant. “Our first goal is to have a winning season, we’ve never had three winning seasons in a row, so now it puts that right there for us.”
The Eagles jumped out quick offensively, as they scored before three minutes had even run off the clock as Gage Gubrud found Nsimba Webster from 17 yards out to put EWU up 7-0. The Eagles would have the only two scores in the opening quarter, as Sam McPherson rushed the ball in to put Eastern Washington up 14-0.
The Thunderbirds got on the board midway through the second quarter, as Jay Green Jr. scored SUU’s first points of the game, and then Logan Parker broke in on a trick play two-point conversion attempt to cut the lead to 14-8.
After an Eastern Washington kickoff return, the Thunderbirds struck again with a touchdown run from James Felila to bring SUU back to a 21-15 disadvantage. That would remain the score going into the halftime break.
The third quarter belonged to the Thunderbirds. Patrick Tyler found Landen Measom through the air with six and a half minutes to play in the quarter, which put the Thunderbirds up 22-21. The Thunderbirds added a Manny Berz field goal to go ahead 25-21 at the end of the third quarter.
“There weren’t any adjustments really, we just came out in the second half and did what we needed to do,” SUU’s Mike Needham said about the turnaround from half to half.
The Eagles pulled back ahead with 11:32 to play in the fourth, taking a 28-25 lead off an Antoine Custer rush, but that was the last time they would get on the board.
On SUU’s next drive, Tyler found Logan Parker from 26 yards out, putting the Thunderbirds back up 32-28. On SUU’s next drive, Tyler found Measom for a second time to go further ahead 39-28. Felila scored his second touchdown of the night as the icing on the cake, putting SUU up 46-28 and securing the win for the Thunderbirds.
The Thunderbird defense was huge on Saturday, as Jarmaine Doubs Jr., Jalen Russell and Tyler Collet all picked off Gubrud, who had just eight interceptions coming into the contest. Needham led the team with 10 tackles, and Kyle Tauiliili had nine tackles and a sack.
“I give Eastern Washington a lot of credit, they’re a great team,” Needham said. “I’m just proud of our corners for rallying together.”
The Thunderbirds will be back in action on October 28th, as they take on the Bears of Northern Colorado in Greeley.
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