The Thunderbirds of Southern Utah University and the Trailblazers of Utah Tech University will both play their final games of the season on Saturday, Nov. 18, at 5 p.m. The United Athletic Conference rivalry game will be hosted by Utah Tech.
Sitting at seventh in the UAC standings, the Trailblazers have gathered a 2-8 record this season. They are ranked as the worst offensive and defensive team in the conference.
Quarterback Kobe Tracy has completed 55.6% of his passes this year while throwing for 19 touchdowns. He averages 253.5 passing yards per game, putting him at fourth in the UAC. This is largely due to the Trailblazers relying on the passing game significantly more than the running game. Of their 383.2 total yards per game, just 109.9 have come on the ground, fewer than any other team in the conference.
The reception leaders for Utah Tech are senior Rickie Johnson and freshman Beau Sparks. Johnson is first on the team and second in the conference in total receiving yards with 773, averaging 11.71 yards per catch. Sparks, with his 699 yards, has more receiving touchdowns than any other Trailblazer with seven.
Despite the limited ground work, Ronnie Walker Jr.’s 55.2 rushing yards per game and three rushing touchdowns lead Utah Tech.
Dondi Fuller and Syrus Webster have done some heavy lifting for the defense. Webster has the most sacks and tackles for loss on the team and the second-most in the UAC with seven and 12.5, respectively. He has taken 41 yards away from opposing offenses in the process. Fuller is first on the team and third in the conference in total tackles with 86, averaging 8.6 per game.
Following a dominant 45-17 win over Stephen F. Austin State University, the fourth-place Thunderbirds have pushed themselves to a 5-5 record.
In his final year, Justin Miller has thrown for 27 touchdowns with his 236.2 passing yards per game. That puts him tied for first in the UAC in touchdowns and fourth in yards per game. After 40 games played in a Thunderbird uniform, Miller became the program’s all-time passing touchdown leader this season with 72 touchdowns up to this point.
Isaiah Wooden is heads above the other Southern Utah receivers, having collected 857 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns. He leads the conference in both categories. The offense is also helped by running backs Braedon Wissler and Targhee Lambson. Wissler leads in rushing yards with 556, while Lambson leads in touchdowns with six.
Utah Tech’s dependence on passing could present an opportunity for the Southern Utah defense to shine. The Thunderbirds are second in the UAC in sacks, led by Robert Horsey and Anisi Purcell. In addition, the duo lead the team in total tackles for loss. SUU has also caught more interceptions than any of their conference competitors. AJ Felton’s three gives him the most on the team and second most in the conference.
Author: Anden Garfield
Photographer: Anden Garfield