CEDAR CITY, Utah, Nov. 6 - Southern Utah scored on six of its first seven possessions Saturday then cruised in the second half as the Thunderbirds rolled past Division II Dixie State, 52-0. The win guaranteed SUU a winning record for the first time since 2004 as the team improved to 6-4 with a game to play at Eastern Washington next week. Dixie State ended its season at 2-8.
"A winning record is huge," SUU Coach Ed Lamb said. "It's something that the guys will always remember. In particular it's not having a losing record. Even when you have a conference championship, having a losing record is something that always kinda sticks in your craw. Really, a losing record equates to being a loser and these guys have been through some of that, they fought hard, I'm happy for them. They've got a conference championship, and now they have a winning record. It's kind of like a college degree, no one can take it away from you."
Brad Sorensen completed 19-of-23 passes for 245 yards and three touchdowns in the first half before giving way to Jason Mayer on the Thunderbirds' final drive of the period. Sorensen threw touchdown passes to Tysson Poots, Robert Au Sue and Jared Ursua, then Mayer threw one to Abbel Aiono as the Thunderbirds ran out to a 42-0 halftime advantage. Fullbacks Tui Sililva and Lavell Ika each ran for touchdowns in the half as well.
The SUU defense was stifling in the first half, holding the Red Storm to 78 yards of total offense, just three first downs keeping them out of Thunderbird territory. The SUU offense was almost as efficient, scoring touchdowns on six straight first half drives after Dixie forced a punt on the Thunderbirds' opening possession.
In the second half the Thunderbirds emptied the bench as every eligible player got into the game. Matt Holley returned an interception 44 yards for a touchdown and Brock Miller nailed a career-long 50-yard field goal to account for the team's scoring in the half.
SUU finished with 453 yards of offense and limited DSC to 206 in posting the team's first shutout win since a 34-0 win over Montana Tech in the 2006 season-opener, a span of 54 games. Dixie was able to get into SUU territory just three times in the second half and reached scoring position just twice, with both those drives ending in missed field goals.
"I was really proud of the way our guys played," SUU Coach Ed Lamb said. "They could have looked past this game, they could have looked toward a big game against Eastern Washington next week but they didn't do that.
"It was a great [defensive] effort all day and our defensive coaches and players recognized [DSC] hadn't crossed mid-field at halftime," Lamb noted. "Dixie did a good job battling back, stopping our run in the second half and they got some field position in their favor so I think it was a pretty short drive when they did cross the 50.
It was the final home game for 12 seniors, most of whom endured an 0-11 season in 2007. That group clinched a Great West Conference championship last week and a winning record this week.
"They've battled back, they've hung in there," Lamb pointed out. "These seniors represent the guys who've stuck it out. They've been through some hard times, things haven't been easy, in the time that I've been here either. We've asked them to work incredibly hard, we've had some breakthroughs and setbacks along the way and then here in the last five weeks or so the guys have got the payoff I think they deserve."
-- SUU --