CEDAR CITY, UTAH – The football team of the University of Northern Colorado resisted a rally in the fourth quarter for southern Utah to hold on and beat the Thunderbirds 42-39 on Saturday night at the Eccles Coliseum in front of a crowd of 7106.
The victory, the second consecutive UNC, improves the Big Sky Conference record of the Bears to 2-4 and the overall score to 2-7. SUU falls to 1-4, 1-7.
"I'll take them when they arrive," said a relieved UNC coach Earnest Collins Jr. on his post-game radio show. "The boys played well together, it's a blessing."
It took an interception from UNC linebacker Henry Stelzner at the last minute to ensure victory when the Thunderbirds forced the Bears to kick and took charge of their own 15.
Stelzner intercepted the next scrimmage play and UNC quarterback Keaton Mott knelt at the last jump.
"It was one of those … you hit me, I'll hit you back (games). I'm happy with that. "
Recommended stories for you
SUU scored 14 points in the last quarter, while the Bears did not score 18 points in the third quarter.
Collins was particularly happy with the Bears' 289 rushing yards that included 128 from Milo Hall and 118 from Trae Riek, Hall scored three touchdown passes.
It was the running game that eventually helped to the Bears to eat off the clock in the fourth quarter and hold on to SUU, who racked up 470 yards of the total offense.
A 1 yard touchdown by SUU backup quarterback Tyler Skidmore with: 45 seconds to go, he threw the SUU to 42-39, but the Bears regained his short kick.
However, the UNC could not come up with a first attempt before handing the ball to SUU.
"We gave some (yards), but the good thing is that our fensive was scoring, "Collins said. "Our boys ran the ball and we came out on top."
UNC senior Alex Wesley, on his birthday, surpassed the 1,000-yard mark for the second consecutive season with six receptions for 96 yards, giving him 1,005 for his career.
He is the second receiver in UNC history to have passed more than 1,000 yards in two seasons, the other was former Bears Vincent Jackson.
Mott was good for 224 passing yards with two touchdowns when the Bears finished with 513 yards of total offense.
Skidmore, who replaced starter Austin Ewing in the first half, finished with 330 yards, a touchdown and an interception.
The Bears looked their best in the third quarter, as they scored three times: a 28-yard field goal by Marques Combs and a touchdown by Hall to increase their lead.
Landon Measom of SUU scored on a 76-yard touchdown catch to keep the Thunderbirds in the hunt.
Hall's third landing of the night occurred in a 24-yard run that was prepared by a 50-yard run by Trae Riek.
The Bears scored on the last play of the first half when quarterback Mott rolled to the right and found tight end Theron Verna in the end zone on a 35-yard touchdown the final play of the second quarter to give the Bears something cushion.
The Bears scored on their first possession of the game in a short Hall race in the first three minutes, then added a touchdown: a 32-yard pass from Mott to Willie Fairman to go up 14-0 With 7 minutes and 19 seconds left for the first quarter.
UNC added a 26-yard field goal by Marques Combs to complete an 11-play, 67-yard drive to open the second quarter as the Bears' first three. the possessions ended with points.
"We scored just before the half, and then they had to score to (try and) catch up," Collins
Karris Davis has the only SUU touchdown in the first half.
UNC will return home for its final home game of the season next Saturday at noon against Eastern Washington University at Nottingham Field.