Thunderbirds Are Clutch in Home Opener Against Lions

CEDAR CITY, Utah – Southern Utah University proved to be clutch in the end on the shoulders of quarterback Patrick Tyler who threw for 188 yards and three touchdowns on 18-0f-28 passing. No. 23 SUU Thunderbirds held off Southeastern Louisiana Lions, 28-23, in non-conference FCS action Saturday at Eccles Coliseum.

The last time these two teams meet was in 2014 when Southeastern Louisiana beat SUU, 41-14. SUU is now 1-1 and Southeastern leaves 0-2 overall. Both teams are coming off a loss and looking for a strong start to their season.

The lions lead early 7-0 after a 75-yard drive to open up the game lead by senior quarterback Justin Alo. SUU responded with their own offensive drive marching down the field on 11 plays. Tyler found Measom six yards out to tie the score 7-7 with plenty of time left in the first quarter.

SLU drove the ball deep into the Thunderbird territory, but SUU’s Mike Needham intercepted the ball in the red zone saving another score. SUU’s offense couldn’t respond and went three-and-out.

On the next SLU possession they went eight plays and came away with a 24-yard field goal for a 10-7 lead to end the first quarter.

SUU had a chance to pull ahead in the second quarter but couldn’t convert on a fourth-and-short. SLU has kept the SUU defense on their heals in the first quarter and early in the second quarter SLU scored on a 69-yard drive that gave them a 17-7 lead.

SUU turned around for an 87-yard drive when Ty Rutledge walked into the end zone and closed the lead 14-17. SUU had another chance to knock on the door in the first half, but the Lions defense was solid holding the Thunderbirds on a goal-line stand for all four plays. The end of the second half with SLU on top 17-14.

In the return of the second half both teams couldn’t get things going until SUU wide receiver Mike Sharp made a 21-yard pass to Steven Wroblewski. That set Tyler up for another solid drive ending in a Thunderbird touchdown for the 21-17 lead.


SLU put together a big drive, but was stopped short on fourth down. The Thunderbirds found the end zone for another score and to move their lead 28-17.


The Lions would not go away quietly putting together their own 75-yard drive on 12-plays for a fourth quarter touchdown. The Lions chance for two was knocked down, keeping SUU on top, 28-23.

Southeastern put together a final drive with just over a minute left, but Tyler Collet intercepted the Lions’ last chance. SLU’s Justin Alo threw for 275 yards and two touchdowns on 18 of 31 passing with 411 total yards of offense. The T-birds racked up 437 total yards, with Malik Brown accounting for 146 yards on 32 carries.

Southern Utah plays Portland State next for Homecoming on Saturday, September 24 at 6PM in Cedar City, Utah.

Game Stats SUU SLU
First Downs 28 19
Total Offensive Yards 437 411
Passing Yards 222 275
Rushing Yards 215 136
Penalty Yards 5-45 8-83
3rd Downs 7-15 5-13
4th Downs 2-4 1-2
Time Of Possession 32:06 27:54


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Photos by Amber Humphries

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