CEDAR CITY -- The Southern Utah Thunderbirds shutout Dixie State College 52-0 in their last home game of the season Saturday at Eccles Coliseum.
With the win, Southern Utah (6-4) guaranteed itself a winning season for the first time since 2004. The T-Birds are 6-4 overall with one more game left in the season.
Head Coach Ed Lamb said his team should be proud of what they've accomplished so far this season.
"It's something that the guys will always remember," Lamb said. "They've got a winning record and a conference championship. It's kind of like a college degree in the way that nobody can take it away from you."
The defense and offense pulled their weight throughout the game. Lamb said the defense played especially well by only allowing the Red Storm (2-8) to get its first look at scoring in the third quarter.
"Our defensive coaches and players started to recognize that Dixie hadn't crossed midfield once in the first half," he said. "I was really proud of how our guys played. They could've looked passed this game to the big game next week against Eastern Washington, but they didn't do that."
Sophomore quarterback Brad Sorensen completed 19-for-23 passes for 245 yards and three touchdowns before leaving the game late in the second quarter. He was replaced by freshman quarterback J.J. Mayer.
Senior wide receivers Tysson Poots and Robert Ah Sue combined for 10 catches for 129 yards and two touchdowns.
Lamb said every player did their part, including the guys coming off of the bench.
"Everybody who was eligible got playing time today," he said. "We had a lot of young guys step up and really set the tempo on our kickoff coverage especially."
The T-Birds took the early 14-0 lead with a pair of 1-yard touchdown runs by senior running back Tui Siliva and freshman fullback Lavell Ika.
Junior wide receiver Jared Ursua made a 7-yard touchdown reception from Sorensen to extend the T-Bird lead to 35-0 with 6:13 left in the first half.
The T-Birds leapt to a 42-0 halftime score with a 15-yard touchdown catch from Mayer to junior tight end Abbel Aiono.
Early in the second half sophomore safety Matt Holley made a 44-yard interception return from Red Storm freshman quarterback Cody Stevenson and freshman kicker Brock Miller made a 50-yard career-long field goal to put SUU up 52-0.
Before the game, 12 seniors were recognized for the work they've put in during their time with the T-Birds. Lamb said the seniors led this team and the work they've put in has shown.
"These seniors represent the guys who've stuck it out," he said. "We've asked them to work incredibly hard over the last few years. We've had some breakthroughs and setbacks along the way, and in these last five weeks I think these guys really got the payoff that they deserve."
"This feeling is great," Siliva said. "We've been working hard for this. Everybody came together as a team, and that's why we had a winning season."
Senior linebacker Troy Bunting said the T-Birds are excited about the win and ready for the last game of the season next week.
"It keeps our momentum going," Bunting said. "Its five straight wins, and we feel good about what we're doing and our habits. We definitely feel good about going into next week."
SUU travels to Cheney, Wash. to take on No. 6 Eastern Washington in its final game Saturday at 2 p.m.