Posted: Sep 26, 2022
SOUTHERN UTAH WINS WAC DEBUT AGAINST RIVAL UTAH TECH
Southern Utah raced into the win column in its first start as a member of the WAC, defeating rival Utah Tech 31-17 in the opening conference game of the 2022 season on Sept. 24 in Cedar City, The Thunderbirds gained 449 yards of total offense against the Trailblazers after opening up a 24-10 lead at halftime.
Quarterback Justin Miller paced Southern Utah with 352 yards through the air and two touchdowns, throwing both scoring tosses in the opening half. Isaiah Wooden led all players with five receptions for 129 yards and a touchdown in the victory for the Thunderbirds.
Kobe Tracy threw for 277 yards and two touchdowns for Utah Tech, and Quali Conley gained 112 yards rushing on just 14 carries for the Trailblazers.
KEY TAKEAWAYS FROM WARD LEAD SUU TO VICTORY
Safety Rodrick Ward made his presence felt in the Southern Utah secondary late in the win against Utah Tech to earn conference defensive player of the week honors, registering two key takeaways for the Thunderbird defense to preserve the conference and rivalry victory. On the opening Utah Tech possession of the fourth quarter, Ward gathered in an interception and returned the ball deep into Trailblazer territory 90 seconds into the frame. With Southern Utah ahead 31-17 with just under five minutes to play, Ward picked the ball once more and rumbled 41 yards to stall another Utah Tech rally attempt.
TARLETON WINS SECOND STRAIGHT WITH OFFENSIVE BARRAGE AT NORTH ALABAMA
Tarleton rolled offensively in a 43-28 performance at North Alabama on Sept. 24, racking up 586 yards of total offense and 30 first downs.
WAC Offensive Player of the Week Beau Allen completed 18-of-29 passes for 316 yards and four touchdowns, tossing two each half in the win for Tarleton. Allen also gained 32 key rushing yards for the Texans to supplement the 161 yards on the ground from Derrel Kelley III.
Jaden Smith shined for Tarleton with five catches for 173 yards which included touchdowns that covered 30 and 86 yards in the victory.
ABILENE CHRISTIAN DOMINANT IN HOME WIN AGAINST WESTERN NEW MEXICO
Abilene Christian picked up win number three on the season with a dominant 34-7 win against Western New Mexico at home. The Wildcats held the visitors to just 2 net rushing yards on 11 carries and 167 yards of total offense.
Ethan Long threw for 251 yards and two touchdowns for ACU in the triumph, and Rovaughn Banks Jr. (143) and Jermiah Dobbins (105) each rushed for more than 100 yards for the Wildcats.
HOBERT’S 100-YARD RECEIVING STREAK CONTINUES FOR UTAH TECH
Wide receiver Joey Hobert from Utah Tech registered a fourth straight 100-yard receiving outing to start the 2022 season, hitting the mark again late in the fourth quarter to finish with 105 yards on six catches with a touchdown at rival Southern Utah on Sept. 24. The WAC record for most consecutive 100-yard receiving games (seven) was established by San Diego State’s Patrick Rowe in 1990, and Hawai’i’s Greg Salas set the conference watermark with 10 total 100-yard showings during the 2010 season.
TEAMS FROM THE WAC RATED HIGHLY IN THE NATIONAL STATISTICS RANKINGS
As of the latest NCAA FCS football national statistics report that was released on Sept. 24, Southern Utah was the top team in the country with seven fumble recoveries, a 2.50 turnover margin and 14 total turnovers gained. SFA has averaged 34.8 yards per punt return to also lead the nation, while the Lumberjacks (43.44) and Thunderbirds (42.36) ranked second and third, respectively, in net punting.
SFA’s Edward Bobino was the only player nationally to have recorded two blocked kicks thus far this season. Southern Utah’s Jake Gerardi remained the national punting leader with an average of 47.5 yards per boot, and teammate Zach Strand ranked second in the FCS with two fumble recoveries. Isaiah Wooden’s 26.60 yards per reception ranked second nationally and Rodrick Ward’s 2.2 passes defended per game (second) and 0.8 interceptions per game (fifth) rounded out the Thunderbird players in the top five.