RENO, Nev. - Southern Utah University football suffered a 28-19 defeat at the University of Nevada in both teams' 2014 season opener on Saturday.
The first half proved to be a defensive battle as the teams combined to punt the ball 14 times. The Thunderbirds had their best field position of the half, recovering a muffed punt on the Wolfpack 13-yard line with 19 seconds in the first quarter. However, an interception on the ensuing play derailed the T-Bird attack.
Nevada put the only points on the board in the first half on a one-yard touchdown run by James Butler, capping a six play 48-yard drive. The score put the Wolfpack up 7-0 going into the half.
The Wolfpack went up by two scores, 14-0, on their first drive of the second half on a two-yard run by Don Jackson. The run punctuated a 12-play, 85-yard drive, but was quickly answered by Southern Utah on its next series. Rayseasn Pringle recorded SUU's first points of the game, dashing around the right side and running 71 yards to put the Thunderbirds within eight, 14-6, as the PAT failed.
Nevada then put together another 12-play scoring drive, capping the 79-yard drive with a one-yard touchdown pass to Patrick Clifford from Cody Fajardo. Fajardo put the final Wolfpack points on the board with an 11-yard touchdown scamper, punctuating a 10-play, 85-yard drive, giving the home side a 28-6 lead.
The Thunderbirds began to chip into the margin on their next possession as Aaron Cantu connected with Chris Robinson on a swing pass. The senior showed his speed as he raced down the left sideline and scored on the 39-yard touchdown pass.
Miles Killebrew made the most of a Fajardo interception late in the game, turn the miscue into a pick-6 by running 85 yards for the score. The Thunderbirds missed the ensuing two-point conversion, leading to the final score of 28-19.
Chinedu Ahanonu had a strong effort for the Thunderbird defense on the day as the sophomore recorded 28 tackles, the second most in a single game for SUU. James Cowser and Robert Torgerson recorded Southern Utah's sacks on the day as Cowser recorded two and Torgerson recorded one.
The Thunderbirds will be back in action next week at Southeastern Louisiana. The game will mark the first of four games against 2013 FCS playoff opponents for Southern Utah this season and will kick off at 7:00 p.m. (CT).