Entering Saturday morning’s contest the Thunderbirds were coming off a big win at home and the Utes a frustrating loss in the Swamp at Florida. The large and raucous crowd in Rice-Eccles Stadium was still finding their seats as the game commenced. The T-birds elected to try an onside kick that initially looked good but was overturned as it was touched before traveling ten yards.
Starting with a short field at their backs the T-bird defense forced the Utes to go for it on fourth and one in the opening drive but the Utes Tavion Thomas was able to pick up the first down on a run up the middle. Only a few plays later Thomas finished the drive with a thirteen-yard touchdown run.
The Thunderbirds offense got their first action of the day starting at the fifteen-yard line and moving forty-four yards in eight plays before being forced to punt the ball back to the Utes. The punt by Jake Gerardi sailed forty-nine yards before going out of bounds at the Utah twenty-two.
The two teams traded short drives ending in punts before Southern Utah’s Trent Whalen forced a fumble that was quickly gobbled up by Rodrick Ward on the Utes twenty-eight yard line. The first play after the fumble the Thunderbirds Grady Robison was able to capitalize on great field position scampering twenty-eight yards to the endzone to even the score at seven.
Coach DeLane Fitzgerald said of the first quarter effort “We were really proud of our guys after the first fifteen minutes of the game.”
In the second quarter the Utes offense took off scoring thirty-eight points to go into the break with a large lead. The Thunderbirds for their part finished the first half with just sixty-two yards of total offense.
The second half of the game did not go much better for the T-birds as they opened the third quarter with a pick-six. The following drive Southern Utah managed just twelve yards before punting the ball back to the Utes who would march seventy-eight yards for another score.
The Utes would go on to score two more touchdowns in the fourth quarter. A twenty-nine yard pass from backup quarterback Bryson Barnes connected with Thomas Yassmin for the first followed by a twenty-nine yard rushing touchdown by Jaylon Glover.
Quarterback Grady Robison led the Thunderbird rushing attack with two attempts totaling twenty-eight yards and one touchdown. Justin Miller completed eleven passes on twenty-one attempts for a total of forty-two yards and two interceptions. The Southern Utah offense finished the game with eighty-five yards.
The Thunderbirds will be back on the road next week when they travel to Macomb, Illinois to take on Western Illinois University.
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Story and Photo Courtesy of SUU Athletics