Weber State rallies past Southern Utah to reach FCS quarterfinals

CEDAR CITY — For the past two weeks, Southern Utah and Weber State fans have flocked to social media and comment boards to declare their team’s superiority after the two programs tied for this year’s Big Sky championship.

“Second place,” SUU fans chanted moments before the T-Birds and Wildcats played a second-round FCS playoff game Saturday night at Eccles Coliseum, in reference to Southern Utah winning the two teams’ regular-season meeting.

“You’re so quiet,” Weber State fans chanted in the third quarter, as Weber State added another score.

By the end of the night, there was a clear winner on the postseason field: Weber State.

The Wildcats scored 30 of the playoff game’s final 33 points en route to a convincing 30-13 victory over the T-Birds on Saturday night at Eccles Coliseum.

With the victory, Weber State (11-2) moves on to face No. 1 James Madison on Friday, Dec. 8 at 5 p.m. MST in the quarterfinals of the FCS playoffs.

Weber State Wildcats head coach Jay Hill hugs his wife Sara as his daughter Ashtyn cheers after the Wildcats defeated the Southern Utah Thunderbirds in NCAA football in Cedar City on Saturday, Dec. 2, 2017. | Ravell Call, Deseret News

“Proud of our guys. They fought, they clawed, they dug,” Weber State coach Jay Hill said. “It wasn’t always pretty and we left some plays out there, but when you’re playing a kind of team that we were tonight, you’re going to leave some stuff out there. I’m super excited about our play and how they handled this game.”

Wildcats quarterback Stefan Cantwell and a stifling Weber State defensive effort spurred the dominant effort, as the Wildcats scored on five out of six possessions spanning from the second to third quarters to take control.

Cantwell completed 21 of 33 passes for 299 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 105 yards and another score, while the Wildcats held Southern Utah to 219 yards of total offense, including 74 yards over the final three quarters. Weber State had six sacks on the night.

“That was just game planning, I feel like,” said Weber State defensive lineman Cardon Malan about the Wildcats’ sacks, which totaled a loss of 46 yards. Malan had three of those sacks. “A few of the sacks I had on (SUU quarterback Patrick Tyler) were slant calls I got from the linebacker, getting untouched.”

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