73-Yard Bomb Gives Thunderbirds Last Minute Win Over Western Illinois

Sep 17, 2022, 5:55 PM
Southern Utah quarterback Justin Miller (Courtesy of SUU Athletics)
(Courtesy of SUU Athletics)

SALT LAKE CITY – Southern Utah overcame a late Western Illinois score when Isaiah Wooden snuck behind the defense for a 73-yard touchdown to clinch a 17-10 win.

Southern Utah (2-1) travelled to Macomb, IL where they faced the Western Illinois Leathernecks (0-3) on Saturday, September 17.

Coming off of a 73-7 loss at Utah last weekend, the Thunderbirds bested the previous weeks scoring output in the opening 15 minutes against Western Illinois.

SUU took an early 3-0 lead when Micah Pettit split the uprights with a 24-yard field goal on their second possession of the game.

Later in the quarter, a Western Illinois double-reverse ended up in the hands of redshirt-junior defensive end Julian Sanderlin after a toss hit the ground.

The red zone fumble put Southern Utah in excellent scoring position. Two plays later Elijah Burns burst up the middle for a five-yard rushing touchdown to give the Thunderbirds a 10-0 lead after one quarter.

Western Illinois added a second quarter field goal to make the score 10-3 at the half.

SUU outgained the Leathernecks 145 yards to 125 yards in the opening half. The Thunderbirds forced three turnovers in the half.

The two teams traded unproductive possessions in the third quarter before Western Illinois was able to piece together a 61-yard drive late in the period. With the Leathernecks threatening in the red zone, SUU’s defense came up big. The Thunderbirds forced a fumble that was recovered by Zach Strand to end WIU’s best scoring chance of the game.

The third quarter ended with neither team able to get on the scoreboard and SUU leading 10-3.

Late in the fourth, Western Illinois took control for what was likely to be their final possession of the day.

The Leathernecks used and eight play, 73-yard touchdown drive to tie the game at 10. Clay Bruno’s seven yard scoring run capped WIU’s best drive of the game.

With momentum on the Leathernecks side, Southern Utah took over at their own 27 yard line and 47 seconds remaining.

On the second play from scrimmage, Justin Miller found Isaiah Wooden down the left sideline for a 73-yard, game winning touchdown.

Josh Dunn picked off Clay Bruno on the ensuing drive to clinch the victory for the Thunderbirds. It was the third interception of the day for SUU’s defense. The Thunderbirds also recovered three fumbles in the game.

Justin Miller finished with 194 yards, a touchdown and an interception on 18-for-31 passing.

Bobby Cole led SUU with 40 rushing yards while Wooden’s 80 receiving yards on three catches paced with pass catchers. Ethan Bolingbroke added six grabs.


Up Next

Southern Utah returns home to the Eccles Coliseum where they will host the Utah Tech Trailblazers on Saturday, September 24.  It will be the Western Athletic Conference opener for each team. Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. (MST).


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