Southern Utah Shuts Down Western Illinois For First Win Of Season

Sep 23, 2023, 9:29 PM | Updated: Sep 30, 2023, 8:20 pm


SUU football (Courtesy of Southern Utah Athletics)

(Courtesy of Southern Utah Athletics)

SALT LAKE CITY – The Southern Utah football program picked up its first victory of the season behind a strong performance in the second half against the Western Illinois Leathernecks.

Southern Utah earns first win of 2023

The Thunderbirds hosted the Leathernecks at Eccles Coliseum in Cedar City, Utah on Saturday, September 23.

SUU beat Western Illinois, 37-17.

The T-Birds used a consistent performance to pull out the victory. Southern Utah opened the game by taking a 3-0 lead on a field goal in the opening minutes of the contest. With 7:14 left in the first quarter, SUU’s Justin Miller connected with Zach Mitchell for a touchdown to give the Thunderbirds a 10-0 lead.

However, after the strong start, the T-Birds let the Leathernecks back in the second quarter. Western Illinois outscored SUU by 10 points in the final 15 minutes of the first half and the game was tied at 17-17 at the break.

Following the break, Southern Utah pitched a shutout on defense and added to its total on offense.

With 1:26 to go in the third quarter, Targhee Lambson crossed the goal line on a nine-yard rush for his second touchdown on the ground. Lambson’s second score gave SUU a 24-17 lead.

Late in the fourth quarter, Southern Utah sealed the game with a touchdown connection between Miller and Isaiah Wooden. The score was a 43-yard touchdown.

With 31 seconds to play, Western Illinois’ Matt Morrissey tossed a pick-six to put the game on ice.

Miller finished the game 24/35 passing for 242 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions.

Lambson had 11 carries for 35 yards and two touchdowns.

Mitchell led all SUU receivers with six receptions for 78 yards and a score.

Up next for Southern Utah

With the win, the Thunderbirds improved to a 1-3 record this season.

Southern Utah’s next game is at home against the Central Arkansas Bears on Saturday, September 30 at 6 p.m. (MDT). The game will be broadcast on ESPN+.

Kyle Ireland is a Sports Producer and Locals in the NFL Insider for He’s also co-host of the Yards After College Podcast. Follow him on X/Twitter (@kyleireland), Instagram (@kyleirelandksl), and Threads (@kyleirelandksl).

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Southern Utah Shuts Down Western Illinois For First Win Of Season