Only One NCAA Football Team From Utah Won Last Week
CEDAR CITY, Utah – The Thunderbirds played a complete game on Saturday, moving the ball efficiently on offense and forcing multiple turnovers on defense. Southern Utah scored early and often in the 52-14 drubbing of Abilene Christian.
1st Quarter: Thunderbirds Strike Fast
The Wildcats received the opening kick and both teams started with identical three-and-out drives. The Thunderbirds looked to have a drive moving when Miller completed a big 12-yard pass to Isaiah Wooden but the drive would stall just as quickly. The Thunderbirds would gain a huge advantage when AJ Felton intercepted a pass and returned it to the Abilene 16-yard line. Two plays later Wooden would catch a pass from Miller in the middle of the endzone to make the score 7-0. The Wildcats would bounce back quickly though scoring on a 55-yard run in their next drive to even up the score. Miller finished up the first with a big completion to Ethan Bolingbroke for 19 yards.
2nd Quarter: Thunderbirds Score Three
The Thunderbirds started the second with the ball in plus territory and promptly put the ball in the endzone on an 11-yard touchdown pass from Miller to Targhee Lambson. Southern Utah would force another punt and drive 81 yards in just three plays including a 69-yard run by Lambson and capped with a 6-yard touchdown run by Braedon Wissler. The following drive for Abilene would be short-lived as Trevon Gola-Callard picked off a pass and set up the T-Bird offense on the Wildcat 19-yard line. It would take just two plays for Lambson to score again making the score 28-7 in favor of the Thunderbirds. The Wildcats gained the ball back with good field position and drove 45 yards to score with just 10 seconds left in the half. The Thunderbirds went into the break with a 28-14 lead.
3rd Quarter: Southern Utah Scores Big
The Thunderbirds received the second half's opening kick and marched to midfield before punting. The Justin Millerquick kick went nowhere and gave the Wildcats the ball at their own 46. A Jordan Washington Interception and return gave the Thunderbirds back the ball on the Wildcat 32. Braedon Wissler would punch the ball in on a 10-yard touchdown run. The T-Birds would score again on a 25-yard pass from Miller to Wooden to make the score 42-14.
4th Quarter: T-Birds Let the Air Out
The Thunderbirds started the fourth quarter by completing a drive that began with two minutes to go in the third. The drive was finished off when Targhee Lambson went into the endzone for his third score of the game. The Thunderbirds stopped the Wildcats' next drive and got the ball back with a lot of time left to go. The T-Birds would drive 82 yards over a nine-minute span and finish it off with a field goal to make the score 52-14. The score would hold for a big-time United Athletic Conference win.
The offensive leaders for the Thunderbirds put up an impressive performance. Justin Miller completed 18 of his 21 passing attempts, accumulating 172 passing yards and throwing three touchdowns. His top receiver in the game was Isaiah Wooden who caught nine passes for 119 yards and two touchdowns. Targhee Lambson also had a big impact with three catches including a touchdown.
On the ground, Lambson put up his biggest game to date rushing eight times for 101 yards and two scores. Braedon Wissler and Grady Robison showcased their running prowess as well in the contest. Wissler carried the ball 17 times for 84 yards and a pair of touchdowns, while Robison had a remarkable 60 yards on just six carries. In total, the Thunderbirds rushed for a season-high 308 yards and scored four rushing touchdowns. The Thunderbird offense controlled the game holding possession for over 36 minutes including a drive that lasted over nine minutes.
In the game against the Wildcats, Southern Utah's defense was a total team effort. Aubrey Nellems and Kohner Cullimore led the way in tackles, with Nellems recording six total tackles, while Cullimore made 5 total tackles including a massive 11-yard sack. Abilene entered the game leading the nation with just one sack allowed per game however the Thunderbirds applied the pressure recording three sacks and four quarterback hurries.
In addition to Nellems and Cullimore, Tre Gola-Callard made an impact on the defense, as he recorded four tackles and an interception. Southern Utah would also get key interceptions from Jordan Washington and AJ Felton. In all the Thunderbird defense would hold ACU, who nearly 30 points per game to just 14 points and leave them scoreless in the second half.
The Thunderbirds will host Lincoln University for senior day on November 4th. Kickoff is set for 1:00 p.m. MT and will be broadcast on ESPN+.