The night before Saturday's contest at Southern Utah, a number of the Fort Lewis College football players were spotted in a local hotel wearing T-shirts that sported "We bleed" slogans.
Perhaps the slogan is fitting for the Skyhawks, who remain winless following their 37-6 loss to the Thunderbirds Saturday afternoon at SUU's Eccles Coliseum.A year after being stymied by the FLC defense, the Division I-AA T-birds had no trouble gaining yards, making key defensive stops and scoring points against their Division II foes - at least for three quarters. For the second time in as many weeks, SUU showed signs of being sluggish in the final quarter of a lopsided rout.
"I don't like going backward," said coach C. Ray Gregory, whose SUU team tallied 464 yards of total offense, 359 yards rushing and a less-than-appreciated 15 penalties for 139 yards. "We got all those (offensive) yards in three quarters and then went backward."
T-bird quarterback Matt Cannon scored rushing touchdowns of 61 and 17 yards and added a rare-for-SUU 56-yard scoring strike to Sam Elliott. The sophomore from Salt Lake City gained 127 yards on just nine carries.
Freshman running back Rod Madsen added a pair of TD runs himself - one a 1-yard dive and the other a 9-yard scoring scamper - and finished with 61 yards on 11 attempts.
SUU was so dominating from the start that much of the suspense of Saturday's game was whether the T-birds would post a second straight shutout, with last year's 49-0 whipping of St. Mary's the team's first blanking in six seasons. But FTC's Rusty Evans kicked a pair of first-half field goals - 42 and 49 yards - to give the Sky-hawks a scoreboard presence.
But that's all Fort Lewis could muster against the SUU defense, which gave up only 105 yards rushing and just 46 more yards in passing. Besides interceptions by Randy Hunter and Clint Brown, the T-birds collected five sacks - the first being a safety by Ahaz Griffeth as he dumped FTC quarterback Nick Wilson in the end zone just three minutes into the game.
Two players after the Skyhawks' free kick following the safety, Cannon connected with Elliott for the 56-yard bomb for a 9-0 lead, with Evans' first field goal later trimming the lead to 9-3.
And on the ensuing kickoff, Brown - as the SUU return man - watched the ball bounce from the end zone back into the playing field, forcing him to pick up the live-and-loose ball. Brown eluded several would-be tacklers inside the 5-yard line and sprinted down the right sideline for an apparent touchdown - only to have the play negated by an illegal-block penalty that put the ball back on the SUU 2.
A 44-yard Cannon pass to Kam Brown and a 24-yard Madsen blast set up Madsen's first score and a 16-3 T-bird lead late in the opening period, and the Skyhawks never really threatened the rest of the game.
Southern Utah, which improves to 3-3 on the season, plays at Idaho State next Saturday night.
A crowd of only 1,449 attended the game, in part because of the local popularity of the annual deer hunt and in part because of the chilly conditions following Thursday night's snowstorm that dumped more than nine inches of snow in the Cedar City area.