CEDAR CITY– The SUU Thunderbirds hosted 12th ranked Sacramento State Saturday afternoon. After a close first half, in which SUU looked like a slightly better team, the Thunderbirds came out firing on all cylinders to pull off a convincing 14-35 victory.
SUU quarterback Brad Sorenson showed the skill of a big time quarterback as he consistently found the open receivers and almost never threw off target. He completed 81 percent of his passes – 30 of 37, for 271 yards.
Both teams went three and out on their first possessions. It was Sacramento State that scored first. They set themselves up with great field position by blocking SUU’s first punt and then used their star running back Bryan Hilliard, who got all 44 yards of the drive with only four carries, putting Sacramento State up 7-0.
SUU then showed some promise when they started the drive on their own 14 and went 43 yards to the Sacramento State 44, just out of field goal range. They decided to go for it on 4th and 2 with a quarterback draw and fell inches short of the first down.
Sacramento State started to feel that they were in control of the game, but SUU’s defense stepped up big, pressuring the Hornet’s quarterback and allowing only seven yards before forcing them to punt.
SUU’s next drive started to show the skill of Sorenson who, despite the team’s inability to get anything going with the running game, to this point, was able to engineer a 70 yard drive to the 10 yard line and set up the T-birds for a field goal early in the second quarter to make it 7-3.
The defense stepped it up again when they sacked quarterback Jeff Fleming on third down to force another three and out.
SUU took advantage of a 26-yard punt that put them in great field position; they went 40 yards in five plays and finished the drive with a 12-yard touchdown run by Deck Alexander to take a 7-10 lead.
On the following drive, Fleming showed off his ability to pick up yardage with his feet as he picked up more yards rushing than passing during their 80-yard drive that ended in a touchdown to put them up 14-10.
That lead wouldn’t last long as Austin Minefee returned the kickoff, untouched, 92 yards for a touchdown, putting the T-birds up 17-14.
Another defensive stop gave SUU the ball back on their own 20 with 1:45 left in the half. Sorenson threw seven passes, completing every one of them, for 62 yards to set up the 36-yard field goal that put them up 14-20 at half time.
The Thunderbirds came back much stronger in the second half as their defense held the Hornets to only 59 yards rushing, 66 yards passing, and no points.
In the first drive of the 3rd quarter, they went 80 yards, including a 56 yard pass to Brady Measom, and scored a touchdown on a 1-yard run by Minefee. They finished the drive with a two-point conversion on a pass to Alexander that put them up 14-28.
Minefee and Alexander stepped it up in the 4th quarter to help SUU run out the clock, at they got almost half of the teams rushing yards in the final quarter.
Alexander scored one more touchdown on a 3-yard run to put SUU up by the final score of 35-14.
Next Saturday SUU will host Texas-San Antonio in Cedar City at 6 p.m.
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