The regular season finale for the Southern Utah University Thunderbirds was also rivalry week as they faced the Utah Tech University Trailblazers on Saturday, Nov. 18. The game was highly contested throughout, but the Thunderbirds came away with the 24-16 victory.
The first quarter was all Utah Tech. On offense, it was freshman Nygel Osborne getting things rolling for the Trailblazers, capping off the 75-yard opening drive with a 12-yard sprint to the goal. A missed extra point gave Utah Tech the 6-0 lead.
Southern Utah’s defense also had bright spots in the first frame, blocking a kick and not allowing anything outside of the opening touchdown.
The Thunderbirds got the offense moving to start the second quarter, going on an 86-yard march down the field and finishing it with a seven-yard scramble to the end zone by senior quarterback Justin Miller. Following a successful kick, Southern Utah took the lead 7-6.
Southern Utah’s defense came up big again as, on the following drive, redshirt sophomore Trevon Gola-Callard dove through the air and picked off a Utah Tech pass, giving the Thunderbirds the ball in Trailblazer territory.
SUU’s offense capitalized off the momentum, charging down the field and scoring again, this time off a three-yard pass from Miller to fellow senior Isaiah Wooden. Their lead increased to 14-6.
With their backs against the wall, the Trailblazers drove down the field in the final three minutes of the half. They stalled out at the Southern Utah six-yard line and had to settle for a field goal. Going into halftime, it was 14-9 in favor of Southern Utah.
The start of the second half featured an offensive explosion from both teams. Getting things started was Utah Tech, who forced a quick punt from the Thunderbirds and worked downfield in just four plays, ending with a six-yard run from Osborne. This put the Trailblazers back on top 16-14.
With a winning record on the line, Southern Utah responded quickly. In the ensuing drive, they were stopped in the red zone but converted a field goal to regain the lead 17-16.
The Trailblazers worked down the field on their next possession, getting to the Southern Utah three-yard line. The Thunderbird defense came up huge, forcing a fumble from junior Kobe Tracy on a quarterback keeper that was recovered by senior Robert Horsey.
This play fired up the offense. On the first play of the possession, junior Targhee Lambson broke off for a 62-yard run, setting up the Thunderbirds at the Utah Tech 32-yard line. Two plays later, Southern Utah had another big run, this time from redshirt sophomore Braedon Wissler, who took the ball 26 yards to the house, making it 24-16.
The final frame of action featured a defensive masterclass from both teams with neither being able to gain anything on offense. The score held, and the Thunderbirds came away with the 24-16 win.
The Thunderbirds’ final record sits at 6-5 overall and 4-2 within conference play, their first winning season since 2017. The loss brings Utah Tech’s final record to 2-9 overall and 1-5 in conference play.
Author: Aidan Mortensen
Photographer: Anden Garfield
Editor: Anden Garfield