ST. GEORGE — The Ax is going back to Cedar City.
Southern Utah University saw two T-Birds run for over 100 yards en route to a 24-16 United Athletic Conference football victory over Utah Tech Saturday night at Greater Zion Stadium.
The rivalry game called “The Battle of the Ax” was a one-point contest, 17-16 for SUU, at the 10-minute mark of the third quarter.
After that it was all T-Birds as Utah Tech’s season-long inability to stop the run manifested itself again as SUU ran the ball 36 times and piled up 274 yards in the win.
Utah Tech head football coach Pete Peterson prowls the sidelines during a UAC football game against SUU, St. George, Utah, Nov. 18, 2023 | Photo by E. George Goold, St. George News
Utah Tech (2-9 overall, 1-5 UAC) ended its season on a down note, losing its fifth consecutive game and seeing it’s I-15 rival walk away from St.George with the Ax.
Meanwhile Southern Utah completed the campaign on a four-game winning streak (6-5 overall, 4-2 UAC) but is left wondering what-if as four of its five losses this year were by three points or less.
The home team came out determined to set the tone, driving 75 yards in eight plays and finishing its first possession with a 12-yard touchdown run by Nygel Osborne. The PAT failed and Utah Tech led 6-0.
But SUU scored two second-quarter touchdowns that put the Trailblazers on their heels.
Quarterback Justin Miller ran for a 7-yard score and threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to Isaiah Wooden to make it 14-6 T-Birds.
Connor Brooksby booted a 25-yard field goal and Utah Tech trimmed its deficit to 14-9 at halftime.
The Trailblazers rode that momentum into the start of the third, driving 68 yards in four plays and that ended with a 6-yard TD run from Osborne, his second of the game.
Trailing for the first time in the contest, 16-14, SUU ran five plays and matriculated the ball 61 yards before Tyler Graham kicked a 31-yard field goal that gave the visitors the lead again, 17-16.
SUU head football coach DeLane Fitzgerald prowls the sidelines during a UAC football game against Utah Tech, St. George, Utah, Nov. 18, 2023 | Photo by E. George Goold, St. George News
Braedon Wissler completed the scoring with a 26-yard TD scamper to secure the T-Birds win with 48 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
The one-possession game stayed that way through a scoreless fourth quarter and the T-Birds enjoyed a celebratory bus ride north.
Wissler finished with 131 rushing yards for SUU, his longest a 60-yard rip. Targhee Lambson led all rushers with 141 yards gained for the T-Birds, his longest being a 62-yard sprint.
Osborne finished as the leading runner for Utah Tech, posting 63 yards on seven totes including the two scores.
Quarterback Kobe Tracy, harassed all night by SUU’s front seven, finished with 227 yards through the air, connecting on 18-of-37 attempts with one interception.
The two teams met twice a year ago and split home contests, with Utah Tech claiming the Ax in last year’s season finale. The tables turned this year and Southern Utah will host the rivalry game next year with the Ax in its possession.
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