Football Couldn’t Hang With the Hornets

Southern Utah University’s football team took a trip west to Sacramento State University for a match with the Hornets on Saturday, Oct. 9. The Thunderbirds could not hang in this Big Sky Conference matchup and fell 41-20. 

SUU started the game off with the ball but went a quick three and out after a short run and back-to-back incompletions. With momentum on their side, the Hornets immediately opened their drive with a 53-yard run that eventually led to a short touchdown run from Isaiah Gable. 

That opening sequence proved too much for the Thunderbirds to overcome and it set the tone of the rest of the game. After another three and out by SUU, Sacramento State would go on to score 10 more points in the first quarter to go up 17-0. 

As soon as it looked like the Thunderbirds were about to put together a scoring drive, quarterback Justin Miller was intercepted by Sacramento safety Abel Ordaz. SUU’s defense was able to force a punt from the Hornets, and they responded with a huge 40-yard catch and run from Frank Harris III that set up an eventual five-yard touchdown run from sophomore Isaiah Williams.

The Hornets answered with a touchdown drive of their own, eating up four minutes of playtime and beating down SUU’s defense. The touchdown came on an 18 yard pass from quarterback Jake Dunniway to receiver Devin Gandy and put the Hornets up 24-7. 

With just under five minutes left in the half, Miller connected on five out of six pass attempts to drive down the field into Sacramento State territory and potential field goal range. Unfortunately for the T-Birds, a holding penalty on fourth down killed the drive and forced them to punt. SUU was then called for catch interference as they continued to shoot themselves in the foot. 

Coming out of the break, the Thunderbird defense held strong and quickly forced a punt, but Miller threw another interception after leading a drive all the way down to the Sacramento State 17-yard line. The pick was returned to the 32 and gave Dunniway and the Hornets a short field to set up another touchdown, going up 31-7. 

Miller and the offense answered back with a 10-play drive that ended in a touchdown from breakout-receiver Ethan Bolingbroke. The Thunderbirds would elect to go for two points, but Miller threw an incompletion leaving the score 31-13. 

Sacramento State opened the fourth quarter with the ball and settled for a field goal, but then intercepted Miller a third time. Although both teams would score once more, Miller’s final interception was the proverbial nail in the coffin and killed any chance at a Thunderbird comeback. 

The Thunderbirds fall to 1-5 now on the year, and have been outscored in their three conference games a combined 111-54. They remain on the road for one more game where they will head south to Flagstaff, Arizona for a rivalry game with the Northern Arizona University Lumberjacks. Kickoff is at 2 p.m. and can be watched on ESPN+. 

Story By: Christian Esparza                                                                                                                                                                                  

Photo Courtesy of SUU Athletics