From SUU ATHLETICS STRATEGIC COMMUNICATION
CEDAR CITY–Riding a three game winning streak, the No. 25 Thunderbird football team will head to Greeley, Colorado this weekend for their fifth Big Sky Conference game. Saturday’s game will kickoff at 12:30 p.m.
Last Time Out
The Eastern Washington Eagles were No. 8 in the country when they came to Cedar City last Saturday, but the Thunderbirds were able to come out on top with a 46-28 victory over the 2016 Big Sky Conference champions.
The Eagles jumped out to a 14-0 lead, but a resilient effort from the Thunderbirds kept them in the contest and in the second half they were able to take control, as they outscored the Eagles 31-7 in the final 30 minutes of play.
Patrick Tyler threw for 183 yards and three touchdowns on the evening, finding Landen Measom in the end zone twice. Measom had 57 yards of offense. Tyler also found Logan Parker in the end zone, as Parker scored his third touchdown in two weeks of competition.
James Felila was a stud on the ground for the Thunderbirds, carrying the ball 27 times for 143 yards and two touchdowns.
Mike Needham led the defensive effort with 10 tackles. Three different Thunderbirds all had interceptions on the evening as well, with Jarmaine Doubs Jr., Jalen Russell and Tyler Collet all picking off Gage Gubrud.
For the first time this season, the Thunderbirds found them ranked in one of the two major FCS Polls, as they were named the No. 25 team in the STATS FCS Poll.
On Saturday the T-Birds upset then ranked No. 8 Eastern Washington, but that wasn’t the first time the Thunderbirds had knocked off a team residing in the Top 25. When the Thunderbirds knocked off the Panthers of Northern Iowa, they were No. 18 in one poll and No. 21 in the other, and two weekends ago when SUU defeated in-state rival Weber State the Wildcats were No. 16 in one poll and No. 18 in the other.
The Thunderbirds last found themselves in the Top 25 during the 2015 season, when they reached as high at No. 15 in the Coaches’ Poll and No. 18 in the STATS Poll.
Words From Coach Warren
On what his message to the team has been…..
“We’ve got to start over, like we do every week,” SUU head coach Demario Warren said. “We start from where we’re at, and we’re 5-2 right now so we’ve got to zero in on what we want. We’ve got a chance to have a winning season, which is one of our main goals and it’s right in front of us right now. It’s a really attainable goal and I think that’s what we’ve got to focus on and we’ve got to be the best team we can be this weekend to beat a good Northern Colorado team.”
On what they have seen on film…..
“They play hard, they’ve got a lot of speed and they can take it the distance on every play,” he said. “On defense we have to make sure those athletes don’t have too much space and we’ve got to make tackles when they do. Offensively they cause turnovers, so we’ve got to do a good job of taking care of the football and making sure we’re executing on third down and in the redzone and if we do that we should have some success and hopefully come out with a win.”
On the Big Sky landscape and controlling their own destiny…..
“After our bye week we knew that we controlled our own destiny, and nothing’s changed,” he said. “We’ve got to take it one game at a time, and if we take care of our business then we don’t have anything to worry about, which is a nice thing. But every team in the Big Sky is good, and this week we’ve got Northern Colorado and that’s the one team we’re focused on right now.”
Opponent Preview: Northern Colorado
The Bears of Northern Colorado will enter the matchup with a 2-4 overall record, sitting 1-3 in the Big Sky Conference. Both of their wins this season have come at home on Nottingham Field. UNC’s two wins this season have come against the College of Idaho and Idaho State University.
T he Bears are currently riding a three game losing skid, falling to Northern Arizona, North Dakota and Montana State. UNC’s loss to Montana State come on a heartbreaker, as the Bobcats knocked home a field goal as time expired to take the lead and defeat the Bears.
For UNC, Conor Regan made his first career start at quarterback against Montana State. He had 13 completions for 218 yards and two touchdowns on Saturday. Trae Riek has been the top rusher for the Bears this season, with 382 yards and six touchdowns on the year. Alex Wesley has been the top target at wide receiver for the Bears, catching 30 passes for 512 yards and three touchdowns. Theron Verna and Frank Stephens both also have three touchdowns for the Bears this season.
Stone Kane has been a force on defense for the Bears, with 52 tackles so far this season. He also has two interceptions and five pass breakups. Sherand Boyd Jr. and Henry Stelzner both have 50 tackles as well this season, with five tackles for loss between them.
Big Sky At A Glance
Only one team remains unscathed in Big Sky Conference play, as the Lumberjacks of Northern Arizona sit with a 4-0 mark in the Big Sky Conference. Five different teams have one loss in league play, as Eastern Washington (4-1), Montana (3-1), Southern Utah (3-1), Weber State (3-1) and Sacramento State (3-1) all sit in that position.
Only Idaho State (2-3) has two wins in conference play. UC Davis, Northern Colorado and North Dakota have each picked up one Big Sky win, and Cal Poly and Portland State have both remained winless.
Where To Watch / Listen / Follow Along
Saturday’s game will be be available on WatchBigSky.com as well as on the PlutoTV App.
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.
Tickets for SUU’s next home contest against the North Dakota Fighting Hawks can be purchased at tbirdtickets.com or at the America First Event Center Ticket Office.