SUU Opens Big Sky With Homecoming Victory Over Portland State
CEDAR CITY, Utah – Four interceptions, 292 rushing yards, and a record-breaking 10,306 fans in attendance were just a few pieces that contributed to Southern Utah’s 45-31 Big Sky opening victory over Portland State.
“I’m extremely proud of the administration, players, coaches, and community,” head coach Demario Warren said. “We did this one for Cedar City.”
Malik Brown finished the game rushing 15 times for 176 yards. Raysean Pringle added eight rushes for 122 yards.
Mike Needham led the Thunderbirds defensively with 15 tackles, nine solo and six assisted, including two tackles for a loss of nine yards. Tyler Collet, Junior Tufuga, and Taylor Pili each added eight tackles. SUU’s four interceptions were collected by Chance Bearnson, Collet (2), and Jarmaine Doubs.
Doubs’ interception came in the form of a pick six in the final seconds of the game to seal the Thunderbird victory.
SUU’s Patrick Tyler threw 15-30-2 for 249 yards and two touchdowns. Mike Sharp caught five passes for 139 yards.
The first half was a Pringle and Sharp show, as the duo put up two touchdowns a piece to head into halftime with a 31-10 Thunderbird lead.
Portland State knocked in a 37 yard field goal to put the game’s first points on the board before Pringle responded with a 37-yard run to give SUU the lead.
The Vikings opened the second quarter with a touchdown to regain their lead before the Thunderbird rally began. Tyler connected with Sharp for a 90 yard pass, which was followed by a 71 yard run from Pringle. The rally didn’t stop there. Tyler found Sharp on a 24 yard pass to give the Thunderbirds a 28-10 edge over the Vikings before the 24 point Thunderbird rally concluded with a 41-yard Keita Calhoun field goal.
“We took care of business,” Sharp said. “We like to play up tempo, and it worked. We did our job.”
Showing up strong in the third quarter, the Vikings attempted a comeback with back-to-back touchdowns to force a 7-point game. Brown exploded for an 87 yard touchdown to cushion SUU’s lead and head into the final quarter with a 38-24 T-Bird advantage.
PSU etched a touchdown early in the final quarter to cut SUU’s lead back to 7. The Vikings continued to control the fourth quarter as they forced four Southern Utah three and outs before setting up a picture-perfect comeback play with first and goal and less than a minute to play. That chance of tying the game was obliterated as Doubs intercepted a Alex Kuresa pass, which he returned 98 yards for a touchdown.
“It seemed unreal. I’m just happy we won,” Doubs said. “I just jumped the route. Once I saw it, I knew I was going to score.”
The Thunderbirds are back in action next Saturday as they hit the road to take on Montana at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 1.
For more Thunderbird football news, follow @SUUFB on Twitter and Instagram along with liking SUU Football on Facebook.