LAS VEGAS, Nev. - Saturday night the Thunderbirds of Southern Utah University traveled to Las Vegas to face the University of Nevada Las Vegas Rebels. SUU quarterback Brad Sorensen really struggled during the first half, but the T-bird defense stepped up to keep them in the game early including a pick six to put them up 10-7 in the second quarter. The game was tied 10-10 at halftime, but SUU scored 31 consecutive points in the second half to pull away and give them a huge victory 41-16.
SUU’s offense really struggled early as the Thunderbird receivers were dropping passes, Sorensen was much less accurate than he normally is and consequentially threw two interceptions in the first half and the first interception set up UNLV for a touchdown to put them up 0-7.
SUU’s defense did their job well and kept them in the game. On the first play of the second quarter Austin Minefee made a nice 29-yard run and was tackled by the face mask which gave them another 15 yards to help set up a 35-yard field goal to make it 3-7.
Five plays later Nick Qitzmann picked off the pass by UNLV quarterback Caleb Herring and returned it 35 yards for a touchdown to take a 10-7 lead. UNLV got a field goal before the end of the quarter to make it 10-10 at the half.
The first half felt like UNLV was always one big play away from running away with the game because SUU just couldn’t get things going like they normally do offensively. UNLV’s defense was really throwing them off their game.
Whatever SUU Head Coach Ed Lamb said to Sorensen and the rest of the team, it worked. On the first play of the second half Blake Fenn intercepted the pass by Caleb Herring and ran it back 22 yards for a touchdown. They missed the extra point but went up 16-10.
On their next possession Sorensen completed 4 of 4 passes for 80 yards to set up Minefee for the 6 yard touchdown run. Sorensen hit Abbel Alono on the two point conversion to put the T-birds up 24-10, this seemed like the turning point from a close game to an SUU rout of the Rebels as the Thunderbirds got a field goal on their next possession to go up 27-10.
Six plays later Sean Reilly sacked UNLV quarterback Tyler Osborne, but he fumbled the ball as he was going down and SUU recovered it. Sorensen hit Fatu Moala with a 26 yard pass and Minefee ran the ball in for another touchdown.
Bradley Randle then got another pick six for the T-birds to give them 41 points. UNLV’s Head Coach Bobby Hauck refused to allow the game to end like that and sent his team out with aggressive play calling. In his determination, he also used timeouts to stop the clock. He was able to pick up a touchdown, but it was too little too late and SUU defeated UNLV soundly 41-16.
After the game Lamb discussed his defense and how they were able to step up in a big way. He said, “I thought our front four did a great job of getting a pass rush. Our secondary did a good job of taking away the first option from their quarterback and then after that there were a lot of sacks and pressures.”
Expect to see the Thunderbirds ranked in the top 25 after this impressive victory for the squad.
Next week SUU will host North Dakota in what will be their second to last home game of the season.
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