Southern Utah football beats Northern Arizona for share of Big Sky title

Southern Utah quarterback Patrick Tyler (3) celebrates with teammates after an NCAA college football game against Northern Arizona, Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017, in Cedar City, Utah. Southern Utah defeated Northern Arizona 48-20 to claim a share of the Big Sky Conference title. (Jordan Allred/The Spectrum via AP)

Cedar City • When the Southern Utah football team was in position to win its first Big Sky title two years ago, coach Demario Warren called it “a turning point for the program.”

So then, what makes two in three years?

Sophomore running back Jay Green ran for three touchdowns and senior quarterback Patrick Tyler added two rushing touchdowns as as SUU beat Northern Arizona 48-20 before 10,842 fans at Eccles Stadium, the biggest crowd in program history. The T-Birds officially share the league title with Weber State; SUU beat the Wildcats earlier this season.

“It’s a great feeling, especially with all the seniors we have,” said Green, who finished with 134 yards on 25 carries. “I was savoring it the whole time. It’s just a great feeling.”

After Manny Berz hit a 41-yard field goal that tied the score at 6 in the second quarter, the T-Birds used special teams to swing the momentum in their favor. Logan Baker recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff at the NAU 15, and Tyler scored on a 1-yard run.

SUU then pulled off a surprise onsides kick and recovered it at its own 36. Three plays later, Tyler scored on a 23-yard TD run and the rout was on. Green would score again on a 3-yard run with 5:22 left in the second quarter, and SUU led 27-13 at halftime.

“The guys had a look in their eyes that they wanted to win this game not only for the team and the program, but for the city and the university,” Warren said. “It was a special thing to be a part of.”

The crowd got an even greater sense of how special the game would become when punter Rashaan Miller ran for 22 yards and a first down on a fake, setting up a 1-yard TD run by Green for a 33-13 lead.

Tyler was 20 of 30 for 238 yards passing with one interception. The T-Birds added 204 rushing yards and beat the Lumberjacks for the fourth straight time.

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