T-Birds beat Hawks, move into first-place tie

By Tom Zulewski

Iron County Today

CEDAR CITY–In the offensive scheme of the Southern Utah football team, quarterback Patrick Tyler has had plenty of targets to throw to. His roommate, Alex Croyle, was more than thankful to showcase his value and help push the Thunderbirds to the top of the Big Sky standings.

Tyler threw for 310 yards and two touchdowns – both to Croyle – and SUU pulled away in the second half for a 47-21 win over North Dakota before an announced crowd of 7,641 on a windy day at Eccles Coliseum on Nov. 4.

“Whenever you can throw the ball a lot and let the guys make plays, it’s always awesome,” said Tyler, who completed 30 of 46 pass attempts, both season-highs. “It shows that we’re an all-around team. We can run and throw the ball, whatever the defense is giving us.”

The running game got things going early for SUU, who won its fifth straight game and joined Northern Arizona and Weber State in a three-way tie for first in the Big Sky at 5-1. Jay Green did the job on the ground with three scores as SUU built a 27-14 halftime lead.

“It was the next-man-up mentality,” said Green, who replaced leading rusher James Felila after he suffered an injury in the first half and didn’t return. “Overall, it was a great team win. If it wasn’t for the o-line, I wouldn’t have two of those scores.”

The Fighting Hawks (2-5, 3-7) scored on the first drive of the second half when Noah Wanzek caught an 18-yard touchdown pass from Keaton Studsrud to cut the SUU lead to 27-21. When Taylor Nelson recovered a fumble on North Dakota’s next possession at the UND 14, it swung the momentum firmly to the T-Birds’ corner.

After the Hawks elected to decline a holding call on the T-Birds to set up fourth down, Green made them pay with his third touchdown of the night on a 5-yard run. It was the first of four North Dakota turnovers in the second half.

“We’re trying to get better each and every week and I thought we took a step forward, especially on offense,” SUU head coach Demario Warren said. “Defensively, we always struggle with North Dakota’s running backs, and we got red zone stops in the second half.”

Despite allowing 115 rushing yards on only 10 carries to John Santiago – including a 63-yard touchdown run in the first quarter – and a game-high 107 yards on eight catches by Wanzek, the T-Birds outgained the Hawks 494-445 in total yards. SUU was 3-of-3 on fourth-down conversions and didn’t commit a turnover.



  1. Dakota 7 7          7          0          —         21

Southern Utah 13        14        13        7          —         47

First quarter

SUU – Felila 1 run (Berz kick), 10:06

SUU – Green 1 run (run failed), 3:30

UND – Santiago 63 run (Taubenheim kick), 2:39

Second quarter

SUU – Green 3 run (Berz kick), 13:25

UND – Wanzek 7 pass from Studsrud (Taubenheim kick), 10:33

SUU – Croyle 13 pass from Tyler (Berz kick), 7:18

Third quarter

UND – Wanzek 18 pass from Studsrud (Taubenheim kick), 12:31

SUU – Green 5 run (Berz kick), 8:59

SUU – Beasley 51 run (run failed), 1:34

Fourth quarter

SUU – Croyle 24 pass from Tyler (Berz kick), 10:10


RUSHING: N. Dakota – Santiago 10-115; Oliviera 4-30; Studsrud 9-28; Johannesson 5-27; Zimmerman 1-minus-4; Mercer 2-minus-9. Southern Utah – Green 14-62; Beasley 4-50; Tyler 5-30; Felila 9-27; Dillard 5-14; Chambers 1-3

PASSING: N. Dakota – Studsrud 19-25-2-230; Zimmerman 3-5-1-28. Southern Utah – Tyler 30-46-0-310; Zwahlen 1-3-0-2

RECEIVING: N. Dakota – Wanzek 8-107; Toivonen 3-57; Mercer 3-36; Santiago 3-14; Finke 2-6; Cloyd 1-16; Oliveira 1-13; Carr 1-9. Southern Utah – Parker 6-82; Croyle 4-83; Beckon 4-29; Diego-Williams 3-26; Measom 3-18; Green 3-9; Rutledge 2-32; Bell 2-14; Beasley 2-7; Chambers 1-10, Cockett 1-2.


Big Sky Standings

Through Nov. 4

Conference      Overall

Southern Utah             5-1       7-2

Weber State                 5-1       7-2

Northern Arizona       5-1       6-3

Montana                     4-2       6-3

  1. Washington 4-2 5-4

Sacramento State         4-2       5-4

Montana State                        4-2       4-5

UC Davis                    3-3       5-4

Idaho State                  2-5       4-6

North Dakota              2-5       3-7

  1. Colorado 1-5       2-6

Cal Poly                      1-5       1-8

Portland State             0-6       0-9


Nov. 4 scores

Southern Utah 47, North Dakota 21

Kennesaw State 16, Montana State 14

Weber State 28, Eastern Washington 20

UC Davis 56, Idaho State 17

Montana 17, Northern Arizona 15

Sacramento State 50, Northern Colorado 21

Cal Poly 35, Portland State 28


Saturday’s games

Southern Utah at UC Davis, 5 p.m.

Eastern Washington at North Dakota, Noon

Northern Colorado at Montana, 1 p.m.

Weber State at Portland State, 3 p.m.

Montana State at Northern Arizona, 5 p.m.

Sacramento State at Cal Poly, 7 p.m.


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