From SUU ATHLETICS STRATEGIC COMMUNICATION
CEDAR CITY–Coming off an upset victory of in-state rival and then ranked No. 16/18 Weber State, the Thunderbird football team is back at home this weekend to host the No. 8 Eagles of Eastern Washington for “Cedar City Night.”
The Thunderbirds were able to defeat Weber State 32-16 at Stewart Stadium last Saturday, resulting in their second victory over a Top 25 opponent this season. This was the fourth time in five seasons the Thunderbirds had topped the Wildcats.
SUU quarterback Patrick Tyler threw for 281 yards and three touchdowns on Saturday. Two of those touchdowns went to tight end Logan Parker, who caught a total of six balls for 118 yards. Defensively, SUU’s Chance Bearnson had a pick-six to get the Thunderbirds on the board, and Jalen Russell had an interception to swing the momentum for the team early in the third quarter. Chinedu Ahanonu had 13 tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss for the Thunderbirds, while Mike Needham had 11 tackles and two tackles for loss.
T-Birds vs. Top 25 Opponents
This season the Thunderbirds have squared off against two teams that were in the Top 25 when they played them, and both times the Thunderbirds have come away with a victory.
Southern Utah’s first ranked opponent was Northern Iowa, which was also the Thunderbird’s home opener of the 2017 season. The T-Birds knocked off the then ranked No. 18/21 Panthers 24-21.
The Thunderbirds have received votes this season, but have yet to break into either of the two Top 25 polls.
Moving forward, the Thunderbirds have one team on their schedule that is currently ranked in the Lumberjacks of Northern Arizona.
Words From Coach Warren
On how to carry over the momentum from the Weber State victory…..
“We’ve got to get back to work, we’ve got a lot of work to do,” SUU head coach Demario Warren said. “They’re No. 8 in the country for a reason. This is the Big Sky champs from last year and we’re the Big Sky champs from the year before, so it’s going to be a big battle and we haven’t been able to see these guys for a couple years. They’ve changed a lot on offense, and they’ve got a legit quarterback.”
On what he’s seen out of Eastern Washington on film…..
“That quarterback is pretty good,” he said. “He makes quick decisions, they have a whole cast of receivers now, it’s not just the three guys that went to the NFL, they throw it to about eight or nine guys now. They have two main receivers (Nsimba Webster and Nic Sblendorio), but for the most part they rotate in a lot of guys. Like our team, they’ve got guys that do specific things that highlight their talents. But they spread you out, they make you cover sideline to sideline and from zero to 100 yards. It’s going to be difficult for our defense to keep it under wraps.”
Cedar City Night
This weekend’s football game against No. 8 Eastern Washington has been dubbed “Cedar City Night,” which will celebrate the community and all of those that serve in and around it.
The Thunderbird Athletic Department will be honoring Cedar City officials, and a host of other individuals that make Cedar City such a great community.
Following last year’s “Cedar City Night,” which took place at SUU’s Homecoming victory over Portland State, the evening has become an opportunity to prove that SUU football can defend their home turf, with not only support from students, but from the entire community.
At SUU’s last home game, a record-breaking number of students and community members came out to support the Thunderbirds as 10,633 fans packed Eccles Coliseum. The team is hoping for continued success in this area by offering discounted tickets to local businesses, along with inviting local high school students from both Iron and Washington County to attend the game for free and sit with SUU students in the student section.
Recent Series History vs. Eastern Washington
The last time the Eagles and Thunderbirds matched up was in 2014, when the No. 2 ranked Eagles left Cedar City with a 42-30 victory.
In Southern Utah’s first year in the Big Sky Conference, EWU came to Cedar City as the No. 1 team in the entire FCS, and the Thunderbirds were able to upset the Eagles at home. The difference in the game was a Colton Cook 36-yard field goal. Brad Sorensen had himself a contest as well, throwing for 392 yards in the same season that saw him drafted into the National Football League.
Big Sky At A Glance
Two undefeated teams remain in the Big Sky Conference, with Eastern Washington sitting at 4-0, and the Lumberjacks of Northern Arizona sitting at 3-0 in conference play. NAU has knocked off Cal Poly, Northern Colorado and Portland State so far this season.
The Grizzlies of Montana have a 3-1 record, with SUU, Weber State and Sacramento State all holding a 2-1 record in the Big Sky. Montana State is the only team in the league with a 2-2 record.
UC Davis and Northern Colorado both sit at 1-2, with Idaho State and North Dakota at 1-3. Cal Poly and Portland State are both still looking for not only their first Big Sky win, but their first win of the season.
Where To Watch / Listen / Follow Along
Saturday’s game will be be aired on ELEVEN Sports, along with being streamed on PlutoTV. This will be Southern Utah’s second game on ELEVEN Sports.
The game will be available on the airwaves locally on KSUB 590 AM with Art Challis and Devin Dixon on the call for the Thunderbirds.
Live stats will be available on weberstatestats.com and www.suutbirds.com prior to the start of the game on Saturday. Tickets for SUU’s Cedar City Night game against No. 8 Eastern Washington can be purchased at tbirdtickets.com or at the America First Event Center Ticket Office.