Big Sky Conference

Weber State races past Southern Utah, into quarterfinals of FCS playoffs



CEDAR CITY, Utah — Stefan Cantwell passed for 299 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 105 yards and a score to spark Weber State to a 30-13 victory over Southern Utah in the second round of the FCS playoffs on Saturday night.

The win sends the Wildcats (11-2) to Harrisonburg, Virginia next Saturday for a matchup with defending champion and top-seeded James Madison (12-0). It will be Weber State’s third trip to the quarterfinals. Weber State heads east with its first 11-win season under its belt. The Wildcats and James Madison will play Friday, Dec. 8 at 7 p.m. ET (5 MT) on ESPN2.

Weber State head coach Jay Hill/by Brooks Nuanez

“We left no doubt. I know that was their little mantra, but we flipped it on them,” Weber State head coach Jay Hill told Brandon Garside of the Ogden Standard-Examiner. “That was what we wanted to do. We talked about that all week. This is their mantra, we’re going to flip on them. We’re going to leave no doubt.”

The Thunderbirds (9-3) started fast and led 10-0 by the end of the first quarter on Jay Green’s 16-yard run and a 37-yard field goal by Manny Berz. The Big Sky champions are still in search of their first FCS playoff win.

“Every time I talk to a senior I get a little emotional, but I’m just so proud of the season that we had,” SUU senior linebacker Mike Needham said in an SUU press release. “We didn’t reach two out of our five goals, but we reached three of them and I couldn’t be more proud of this team and what we accomplished this year. Each year we keep getting better and better, so I’m excited about the future and I’m just happy that us seniors were able to do a little bit to keep momentum going for the future.”

Weber State got on the scoreboard in the second quarter when Cantwell hooked up with Drew Batchelor for a 20-yard score. Trey Tuttle added field goals from 38 and 19 yards to give the Wildcats a 13-10 lead. Berz kicked a 24-yard field goal with eight seconds left in the first half to knot the score at 13.

The second half was all Weber State. Cantwell put the Wildcats ahead for good with a 5-yard TD run early in the third quarter and added a 10-yard scoring strike to Andrew Vollert. Tuttle kicked his third field goal — a 24-yarder — in the fourth quarter to cap the scoring.

Cantwell accounted for 404 yards of offense all on his own, while the Wildcats held the Thunderbirds to 219 total yards.

Weber State now has 11 wins on the season, the most in school history, and has won seven-straight games.

“We keep getting the game we want. We wanted the playoff win with a good opponent (Western Illinois) to prepare us for this game, we wanted Southern Utah in the second round,” Hill said told Garside. “And we want James Madison. This is a heck of a challenge for us. This is what we want right now. We’ll find out how good we are.”

This press release courtesy of Weber State athletics. Photos attributed. All Rights Reserved. 


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