Offense Can Not Capitalize in Loss to Vandals

In their final road game of the season, Southern Utah University football could not stop the University of Idaho Vandals. The loss dropped SUU to to 1-9 on the season, and 0-7 in their final season as part of the Big Sky Conference. 

The Vandals ran all over the Thunderbirds to the tune of 290 yards and six touchdowns on a whopping 49 carries. Running back Roshaun Johnson did a majority of the damage with 174 yards on 30 rushes, averaging 5.8 yards per carry. 

Idaho received the opening kickoff and immediately got to work, putting together a 10-play drive that lasted four and a half minutes. The ground game was a big factor, accounting for almost 50 of their 80 yards. The drive was capped off with a 16-yard run from Johnson. 

Down 7-0 early, the Thunderbirds tried to air it out on their first drive. Quarterback Justin Miller found senior running back Thomas Duckett out of the backfield for six yards on the first play. After that, the redshirt sophomore fired two incompletions in a row, leading to a three and out for SUU’s first drive. 

The Vandals got the ball back and hoped to bury the Thunderbirds early. Quarterback Mike Beaudry started the drive with a 20-yard pass to receiver Mekhi Stevenson. Beaudry followed that play up with a 30-yard connection to receiver Terez Traynor. A few rushes later and Idaho found the endzone again to go up 14-0. 

On SUU’s second drive of the game, freshman running back Preston Larson took the field. In what was his first performance of the season, Larson had five carries for 27 yards and a touchdown. 

The Thunderbirds now down 14-7, redshirt sophomore defensive lineman Napa Nu’usa started the series off with a sack of Beaudry for a loss of 12 yards. The big defensive play helped force the Vandals to a three and out. 

The Thunderbirds received the punt from Idaho with just over half the field to go. Unfortunately, the offense sputtered out and SUU had to punt the ball away. On the punt, the returner fumbled the ball and the Thunderbirds recovered. Blessed with an even shorter field, Southern Utah had only 25 yards to go in order to tie the game. 

To start off the second quarter, the Thunderbirds drove down to the 2-yard line. Two different running backs, Larson and Duckett, could not punch it in and SUU walked away with only a field goal to make the score 14-10. That would prove to be a pivotal point in the game as SUU could not capitalize on two perfect opportunities to tie the game. 

From that point on, it was all Vandals who would score twice more in the quarter. The score going into halftime was 28-10.

SUU could not close the gap in the third or fourth quarters, as the Vandals controlled the clock and kept the ball away with their strong ground game. Both teams would score two touchdowns in the second half, but the game felt over by halftime. 

Miller finished the game with 301 yards and one touchdown. Meanwhile, redshirt sophomore running back Karris Davis led all Thunderbirds with 32 yards on just three carries. 

The Thunderbirds wrap up their season with a return to Cedar City on Saturday, Nov. 13 for a matchup against Weber State University at 2 p.m.

Story By: Christian Esparza

 Photo Courtesy of SUU Athletics