How Weber State football motivated Southern Utah's 2017 season

Friday , October 13, 2017 - 5:00 AM

BRANDON GARSIDE, Standard-Examiner Staff

OGDEN — Few Weber State football fans will forget the incredible comeback the Wildcats staged a year ago at Southern Utah.

Trailing 36-14 with 8:54 left in the game, WSU converted a big fourth down to spark 23 unanswered points take the Beehive Bowl trophy back to Ogden.

The Thunderbirds also haven’t forgotten.

Instead of trying to block out the blown game, SUU head coach Demario Warren has used it to motivate his team.

“I’ve never experienced anything like that,” Warren said this past summer at the Big Sky Kickoff. “We embraced it and I think it really helped our team move forward. I think a lot of guys will be successful in life after that because of that game.”

The team made T-shirts with “8:54” printed on them, and the 2017 season slogan “leave no doubt” was born.

“When we lost that game (to Weber State), we lost with 8:54 left on the clock. That’s when they started to come back,” SUU senior linebacker Mike Needham said. “That’s teaching us to be disciplined and finish a game, every game, not just Weber State.”

Since that loss to Weber State, Southern Utah has gone 6-1 against FCS opponents. The lone loss was a 54-27 blowout on the road two weeks ago against Sacramento State.

While Thunderbirds say the theme is for their entire season, it no doubt carries more meaning in this week’s game.

The Wildcats understand this and still expect victory.

“I’d be pretty mad if I blew a 22-point lead, too,” WSU senior tight end Andrew Vollert said. “I’m not too concerned about that. We’ve just got to watch the film, prepare for a very good opponent. We’re going to give it our all and just see what happens. Hopefully come out with the win.”

Weber State head coach Jay Hill is less concerned with the opponent using last year’s game as motivation than he is about his team’s execution.

“If that’s what they need for motivation all offseason, then good on them,” Hill said. “We believe this game is about us. If we go out and play great and play our game, we like our chances in this game. That’s what it’s going to come down to; who works the hardest on the field, who makes the plays when it most counts.”

The in-state rivalry game is scheduled to kick off at 6 p.m. Saturday at Stewart Stadium.

The game will be broadcast on Eleven Sports Network (DirecTV channel 623). That broadcast will also be carried on free live streams at WatchBigSky.com and on the PlutoTV app. The radio call will be on 1430 AM KLO.

Contact sports reporter Brandon Garside at bgarside@standard.net, on Twitter @BrandonGarside and on Facebook.com/BrandonGarsideSE.

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