Big Sky Conference

BIG SKY ROUNDUP: Southern Utah wins fifth straight, Cal Poly wins for first time

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BIG SKY SCHOOL ATHLETIC DEPARTMENT PRESS RELEASES
The FCS playoff picture in terms of the Big Sky Conference continued to get more clarity on Saturday. Weber State and Southern Utah moved a step closer to league titles while Northern Arizona endured a unique ejection in a crucial loss. Montana strengthened its playoff resume with the gritty win over NAU while Montana State’s playoff hopes likely ended because of a lengthy fourth-quarter drive that boosted No. 25 Kennesaw State to a 16-14 win in Bozeman.
Eastern Washington, winners of five of the last seven Big Sky titles including an unblemished league mark on the way to a run to the semifinals of the FCS playoffs, now has its back pushed against the wall after losing to Weber State. 
Southern Utah continued to solidify its playoff resume with its fifth straight win to move into a three-way tie atop the standings with Weber and NAU. UM, EWU and Montana State are all tied at 4-2 in league play. UC Davis blasted Idaho State while Cal Poly finally found a way, posting their first win of the season by keeping Portland State winless.

2017 Football Standings
SCHOOLCONFPCTOVERALLHOMEAWAYSTREAK
Southern Utah5-10.8337-24-03-2W5
Weber State5-10.8337-23-14-1W3
Northern Arizona5-10.8336-34-12-2L1
Montana4-20.6676-34-12-2W1
Eastern Washington4-20.6675-42-23-2L2
Montana State4-20.6674-52-32-2L1
Sacramento State3-20.6004-43-11-3L1
UC Davis3-30.5005-43-12-3W2
Idaho State2-50.2864-63-21-4L2
North Dakota2-50.2863-72-21-5L1
Northern Colorado1-40.2002-52-20-3L4
Cal Poly1-50.1671-81-30-5W1
Portland State0-60.0000-90-40-5L9

Southern Utah 47, North Dakota 21 (click on line for box score) —  No. 17 Southern Utah scored the final 20 points to avoid North Dakota’s upset bid and post a 47-21 victory over the Fighting Hawks Saturday at Eccles Coliseum.

The Thunderbirds (7-2, 5-1 BSC) never trailed in the contest after jumping out to a 14-0 lead in the opening quarter, but the Fighting Hawks (3-7, 2-5 BSC) would make things interesting before a quartet of second-half turnovers would prove to be the deciding factor for SUU.

The Thunderbirds finished the game with 494 yards of offense along with forcing the four UND turnovers.

SUU head coach Demario Warren with NFL cornerback LeShaun Sims

“We’re trying to get better each and every week, and I thought we took a step forward, especially on offense,” SUU head coach Demario Warren said. “We were trying to put four quarters together and I thought we did that.”

This was Southern Utah’s fifth victory in a row. The T-Birds are now 13-1 at home in the last three seasons.

“We didn’t play well enough to win the football,” UND head coach Bubba Schweigert said. “We didn’t play good defense in the first half. We played well offensively, but missed an opportunity to score late in the half on the (missed) fourth down.

“I thought we played better defense in the second half, got it to a one score game. Then, we made an unforced error and after that unforced error we never recovered.”

SUU scored touchdowns on its first four possessions behind the strong play of senior quarterback Patrick Tyler, who threw for 310 yards and two touchdowns. The Thunderbirds also got five rushing touchdowns with three of those coming from Jay Green, who finished with 14 carries for 62 yards after starter James Felila, who scored a one-yard touchdown to cap a 75-yard march on the opening drive of the game, suffered an injury.

Junior John Santiago got UND on the scoreboard late in the first quarter with a 63-yard scoring run that was the 31st touchdown of his career. He finished with his second 100-yard rushing game of the season, turning 10 carries into 115 yards.

Senior Keaton Studsrud and sophomore Noah Wanzek teamed up for their first of two scoring passes in the game to make it a 20-14 contest five minutes into the second quarter. Tyler connected with Alex Croyle on 13-yard pass to push the lead back to two scores midway through the stanza at 27-14.

That’s how the half would end after the T-Birds made the biggest defensive stop of the game on a 4th-and-1 as the defense stuffed Studsrud on a quarterback keeper, then tackled Santiago in bounds on their own 29-yard line as the first-half clock expired, preventing a chance at a field goal.

Wanzek’s second touchdown reception of the game came on UND’s opening possession of the third quarter, cutting UND’s deficit to 27-21, but that would be as close as the visitors would get. Wanzek equaled his career-high with eight catches for 107 yards and finished with his third 100-yard receiving game of the season.

After forcing SUU to punt following the Wanzek touchdown, UND committed the first turnover of the game by either team when De’mun Mercer bobbled a jet sweep handoff and SUU recovered it on the Fighting Hawks’ 14-yard line.

Green would score his third rushing touchdown of the game on a 4th-and-1 from the six to put SUU back up by two scores at 34-21. After a Jarmaine Doubs Jr. interception on UND’s next drive, the T-Birds scored again on a 51-yard run by Terrance Beasley to move ahead 40-21. The Thunderbirds scored their final points with 10:10 left on the clock when Tyler found Croyle for the second time in the contest to put SUU up 47-21.

UND returns home to take on another ranked opponent next Saturday as No. 11 Eastern Washington visits the Alerus Center. Southern Utah plays at UC Davis before a home finale against NAU.

Cal Poly 35, Portland State 28 —  Senior fullback Jared Mohamed rushed for 194 yards and two touchdowns while Mark Reza intercepted a pass in the final minute as Cal Poly celebrated Homecoming with its first victory of the 2017 season, defeating Portland State 35-28 on Saturday night inside Alex G. Spanos Stadium.

Mohamed tied his career high for carries with 35, set last week at UC Davis, and surpassed his career high for rushing yards in a game, which was 143 yards at UC Davis. Held without a touchdown in the first seven games of the season, Mohamed scored twice for the second straight game.

Following the victory in the matchup of 0-8 teams, Cal Poly improved to 1-8 overall and 1-5 in Big Sky Conference games. Portland State fell to 0-9 and 0-6.

Portland State built 7-0, 14-7 and 21-14 leads in the first half. Cal Poly answered each time, and the two teams settled for a 21-21 draw at halftime.

Cal Poly fullback Jared Mohamed/ Cal Poly athletics

Chuby Dunu scored on seven- and 10-yard runs and Mohamed added a one-yard run for Cal Poly. Jason Talley ran 26 yards and Josh Kraght rushed for six yards and also hit Trent Riley with a 24-yard touchdown pass on a fake field goal for Portland State.

Mohamed’s second touchdown of the game, also a one-yard run, gave Cal Poly the lead for the first time at 28-21 with 11:22 to go in the third quarter. Riley answered with an 11-yard scoring pass from Davis Alexander for Portland State and a 28-28 tie with 6:25 to play in the third period.

Senior tight end/fullback Reagan Enger gave Cal Poly the lead back with a one-yard run with 12:35 to go in the game.

Portland State got the ball back three more times in the final 12 minutes. Two drives ended with punts and the final drive was halted by Reza’s second interception of the year with 48 seconds remaining.

Cal Poly rushed for 400 yards while Portland State passed for 433 yards. The Vikings had the edge in total offense, 504 to 449, but the Mustangs compiled a 32:42 to 27:18 advantage in time of possession.

Freshman Broc Mortensen rushed for 83 yards on seven carries and redshirt freshman Chuby Dunu added 74 yards on 16 trips. Redshirt freshman quarterback Jake Jeffrey completed three of seven passes for 49 yards and added 31 yards on eight rushes. Mortensen caught two passes for 36 yards.

Alexander completed 30 of 51 passes for 409 yards and one touchdown for Portland State. His favorite target was Riley with 12 catches for 135 yards and two scores. Darnell Adams and Charlie Taumoepeau both caught six passes for the Vikings.

Cornerback Kam Dennis made seven tackles, including one sack, and broke up two passes for Cal Poly. Kevin Griffin, also a cornerback, added six tackles and three pass breakups.

Kasun Jackett notched 16 tackles and recovered a fumble for Portland State. Tyler Foreman added 11 tackles.

Cal Poly plays at home again next week, hosting Sacramento State on Saturday at 6:05 p.m. It will be Senior Night and Hats off to Heroes.

UC Davis 56, Idaho State 17 —  As part of its pregame festivities, the lights were turned out inside Holt Arena when Idaho State took the field before the start of Saturday’s Big Sky Conference game. Once the game started, its was UC Davis that played lights-out football, and played near-flawless football throughout the opening half.

As was the case in last week’s Battle for the Golden Horseshoe against rival Cal Poly, UC Davis scored 21 points throughout the first quarter and, just like last weekend, the outburst led to another Aggie victory. With its 56-17 win, UC Davis spoiled the Bengals’ Senior Day, collected its third win in a row, beat ISU for the third straight time, and placed itself one step closer to recording its first winning season since joining the Big Sky in 2012.

UC Davis junior wide receiver Keelan Doss/ by Wayne Tilcock, Davis athletics

The 56 points are the most scored by the Aggies in the program’s Big Sky era, topping the previous mark of 52 points that was set on three occasions. One of those totals took place on Oct. 13, 2012, when UC Davis last visited Idaho State.

UC Davis will depart Pocatello, Idaho, with a 5-4 overall and 3-3 Big Sky record while Idaho State will enter its bye with records of 4-6 and 2-5.
By finishing with 350 passing yards, quarterback Jake Maier became the first UC Davis signal caller in nearly a decade to record 3,000 or more in a single season, and will enter next weekend’s home finale vs. Southern Utah with 3,025 for the year. Greg Denham was the last Aggie quarterback to cross the 3,000-yard threshold when her finished with 3,478 in 2008.
Keelan Doss finished with 11 catches for 112 yards, giving him 93 catches for 1,233 yards and seven touchdowns this season. Maer threw touchdowns to tight end Wesley Preece, Aaron Moore and Logan Montgomery.
UC Davis will return home for its final home game of the season when Southern Utah heads to Aggie Stadium on Nov. 11 for a Big Sky matchup. Idaho State has a bye.

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