OGDEN, Utah, Nov. 9 – Southern Utah scored 24 unanswered points to take a 24-7 lead early in the fourth quarter then held on to post a 27-21 win over Weber State in Big Sky play Saturday.
With the win the Thunderbirds improved to 7-3 on the season and 4-2 in conference play while the Wildcats dipped to 1-9 and 0-6 in the Big Sky. The win also gave the Thunderbirds their first seven-win season since the 2000 team finished 7-4.
Weber State got on the scoreboard first with a 31-yard pass from Aaron Chipoletti to Cam Livingston in the first quarter. SUU was struggling on offense but pulled even with the Wildcats late in the second period when Levi Te’o ran one yard on fourth-and-one to give the Thunderbirds first-and goal at the one, then took it the final yard to tie the game at 7-7 heading into the second half.
The Thunderbirds got a big boost in the second half when LeShaun Sims intercepted a Chipoletti pass and returned it to the Wildcat 24 yard line. A personal foul against WSU moved the ball to the Wildcat 12 and four plays later quarterback Mike Sharp ran one yard to stake the Thunderbirds to a 14-7 advantage.
Sims stepped up again on WSU’s ensuing possession, recovering a fumble at the SUU 28 yard line. On the first play of the drive Sharp was injured scrambling for a first down, but Aaron Cantu took over the offense and drove the team for a 23-yard Colton Cook field goal to give SUU a 17-7 lead.
Southern Utah solidified its lead with a 12-yard touchdown pass from Cantu to Griff McNabb with 6:27 to go, and the Thunderbird defense harassed Chipoletti much of the afternoon – logging four sacks and knocking down six passes, but the Wildcats put together a quick drive, using just 1:11, to pull within 24-14 on a 22-yard pass from Chipoletti to Gamal Fowler. With 5:16 to play.
SUU put the game away with a 36-yard Cook field goal with 1:32 to play that made it a 27-14 game before WSU tacked on a late touchdown with two seconds to play.
Cowser finished the game with three sacks while Zak Browning had a team season-high 16 tackles. Sharp carried 12 times for 81 yards while Cantu wound up completing eight of 17 passes for 117 yards. McNabb caught five passes for 65 yards.
Chipoletti completed 29-of-46 passes for 263 yards to lead the Wildcats, who finished with 87 rushing yards, the fifth team SUU has held under 100 rushing yards this season.