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2-3 T-Birds battle frustration

Southern Utah University football coach Wes Meier is happy and frustrated at the same time. Happy because his team is playing so well, and frustrated because they are 2-3.

"We've got that pit in our stomach that makes us feel sick because the games have turned out the way they have," Meier said.

In their three losses to Sacramento State, then-No. 4 Stephen F. Austin and No. 9 Cal Poly, the T-Birds have lost by a combined 16 points.

At Sacramento State, SUU missed two field goals in the 23-17 loss. At SFA, the T-Birds lost 24-21 on a 53-yard field goal in overtime, and in their home opener against Cal Poly, a Great West Football Conference game, the T-Birds had a punt blocked that led to a touchdown and was intercepted in the end zone late in the game that could have tied the game before losing 24-17 last week.

"We're really just a few plays away from being a 5-0 team right now," Meier said. "Being the competitors that we are we're not happy about it, we feel the frustration."

Only adding insult to injury, the T-Birds had more total yardage than the teams to which they lost. They held Cal Poly, the fourth-best rushing team in the nation at the time, to just 99 yards rushing (248 total yards for the game), and they held SFA to just 236 total yards. In each of the games, the T-Birds had more than 300 yards total offense.

"I feel like we're definitely a team that has the characteristic of never quitting and going hard on every snap," Meier said. "That's the great attitude of this team."

SUU's victories came over Weber State, 34-31, and then No. 23 McNeese, 56-14.

"We know we should be on the winning end, but we've got to work through it," Meier said. "The team has committed itself to play every snap, every down, every game 100 percent and finish this thing with an 8-3 record and win the conference championship."

The T-Birds hope to get back to their winning ways Saturday when they travel to North Dakota State for their second GWFC game of the season.

"We know we can play with good teams," Meier said. "We still have a long season ahead of us and still have a shot at a conference championship. I know it sounds like a cliche, but we just need to take the rest of the season one game at a time and see where we end up."

North Dakota State is 4-2 overall and 0-2 in league play.

REHRER-ING TO GO: SUU quarterback Casey Rehrer, a Mountain View High graduate, is fifth in the nation in Division I-AA in passing (24.6 completions per game); sixth in total offense (317.8 ypg); tied for 13th in points responsible for (15.6 ppg) and 16th in passing efficiency (146.1).

Also, he holds the school record for completions in a game (28 two times this season), surpassing Rick Robins and Jerry Dyer, who were tied with 26, and career completion percentage (58.3 percent, 228 of 391).

ON THE ROAD AGAIN: The T-Bird opened the season with the longest season-opening road stretch of four games. After playing Cal Poly at home last week the T-Birds return to the road with a GWFC game at North Dakota State in Fargo.

T-BIRDS ON THE AIR: The T-Birds can be heard on 91.1 FM (Cedar City) or 590 AM (Cedar City) with Art Challis providing the play-by-play for the 31st season. The games can also be heard on the Internet at www.suu.edu/ksuu.

NATION'S BEST: Wide receiver A.J. Smith leads the nation in receptions with 9.26 per game. He also leads the team in receptions with 43. He hauled in 66 balls last year.

RIGHT, LEFT, RIGHT LEFT: SUU center Zach Hascall broke his right arm the first day of fall drills and switched from snapping the ball with his right hand to his left.

Hascall, wearing a protective sponge pad around his cast, didn't miss a practice and has started every game.


E-mail: jhinton@desnews.com