SOUTHERN UTAH THUNDERBIRDS

Southern Utah Stomps St. Thomas, Earns First Home Win Since 2019

Sep 1, 2022, 9:42 PM | Updated: 9:46 pm

Justin-Miller-SUU-Thunderbirds-Football...

Southern Utah quarterback Justin Miller (Courtesy of SUU Athletics)

(Courtesy of SUU Athletics)

SALT LAKE CITY – The Southern Utah Thunderbirds opened their 2022 season on a positive note thanks to a big win over the St. Thomas – Minnesota Tommies. It was SUU’s first home win since November 2019 and first victory since September 2021.

The T-Birds hosted the Tommies at Eccles Stadium in Cedar City, Utah on Thursday, September 1.

Southern Utah soundly defeated St. Thomas, 44-13.

After capturing only one victory in 2021, SUU equaled that total after its first game this season and came move forward continuing improvement under first-year head coach DeLane Fitzgerald. Prior to Thursday evening, Southern Utah’s last home win came against Northern Arizona on November 16, 2019. A year later, in 2020, the T-Birds won one game on the road. SUU’s last win came away from Cedar City in a contest vs. Tarleton on September 18, 2021.

The Thunderbirds started the contest by winning the coin toss and deferring offensive possession to the start of the second half. SUU kicked the ball off and St. Thomas began the game on offense. Two plays later, the Tommies were celebrating the first touchdown of the night. On the opening play, Hope Adebayo ran for 60 yards. Shawn Shipman followed up that play with a 15-yard burst for a score.

After the Tommies took an early lead, the T-Birds punted on their first possession. SUU’s second chance on offense resulted in its first points by result of a field goal. Down 7-3, Southern Utah took control of the contest on its third possession.

Quarterback Justin Miller connected with Isaiah Wooden for 42 yards to set the Thunderbirds up inside the red zone. On the next play, a one-yard run by Bobby Cole gave the T-Birds their first touchdown.

Later in the half, Miller found Wooden again, this time for 64 yards and a score. The touchdown put SUU ahead, 17-7.

With 5:25 remaining in the first half, another SUU field goal move the Thunderbirds’ margin to 20-7 for a halftime lead of a baker’s dozen.

Early in the third quarter, Miller tossed his second touchdown pass by hitting Mata’ava Ta’ase for six yards. The strike and a two-point conversion stretched the home team’s lead to three scores, 28-7.

The Tommies responded less than five minutes later and scored for the second time, first of the second half. St. Thomas’ score cut Southern Utah’s advantage to 13 points and kept the Tommies within striking distance. However, a field goal late in the third quarter and another T-Bird touchdown to open the final quarter extend comfort to the fans sitting at Eccles Coliseum.

Miller connected with Wooden for 25 yards and six points for the duos second score of the evening. The touchdown moved the scoreboard to 38-13 in favor of SUU.

Later in the fourth quarter, the Southern Utah defense made some big plays and Miller helped the T-Bird offense take advantage. A quarterback sneak by Miller midway through the quarter pushed SUU’s margin to 44-13.

With the victory, the Thunderbirds opened the season with a 1-0 record.

SUU’s next game is on the road against the No. 7 Utah Utes. Utah will host Southern Utah at Rice-Eccles Stadium on Saturday, September 10 at 11:30 a.m. (MDT). The game will be televised on the Pac-12 Network.

Southern Utah opens Western Athletic Conference action at home against the Utah Tech Trailblazers on September 24.

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Southern Utah Stomps St. Thomas, Earns First Home Win Since 2019