Tailback Kelvin Minefee ran for a touchdown with 21 seconds remaining to give Southern Utah State College a come-from-behind 24-21 victory over Cal Lutheran University on Saturday afternoon.
Minefee’s dash capped an 80-yard drive in the final 2 minutes and continued what is becoming a tradition between the schools. For the third consecutive season Southern Utah has beaten CLU with a last-gasp touchdown.
Minefee’s tally gave the Thunderbirds (4-5, 2-2 in conference play) their first lead of the game after they trailed in the Western Football Conference contest by as many as 11 points in the second half.
“I think Southern Utah is a fine fourth-quarter team,” CLU Coach Bob Shoup said. “They play with poise and confidence and our kids made some real big mistakes when we were up by 11 that let (SUSC) right back in it.”
The turning point, according to Shoup, was a fumble late in the third quarter when his Kingsmen seemed to be in control.
Linebacker Torii Lehr had just stopped an SUSC drive with an interception, but the Thunderbirds turned the ensuing fumble into their second touchdown to cut Cal Lutheran’s lead to 21-16.
“It was like we couldn’t put it away,” Lehr said. “I wonder about the little things we could have done that would have won us the game.”
On the game-winning drive, SUSC was helped by a 28-yard pass from quarterback Rick Carter to Scott Mosher. But the big play was a fourth-and-10 pass from Carter to Thane Marshall at the CLU 27.
Surprising SUSC by keeping the ball on the ground, the Kingsmen scored first, and, behind Dean Henderson’s 93 yards rushing, controlled the ball most of the game.
“Our passing offense has been having some problems, so we tried the run,” Henderson said.
A defensive struggle in the first quarter ended when the Kingsmen (2-6, 0-4) drove 81 yards and Jim Bees passed 21 yards to Ken Whitney for a touchdown. The 5-play series was aided by a 16-yard scramble by Bees and a 32-yard pass to John Bankhead.
SUSC tied the score with a second-quarter touchdown. Minefee broke free for 38 yards on an option to cap a 75-yard drive.
Cal Lutheran regained the lead at 13-7 with a 69-yard drive on its next possession. Bees swept left end for 6 yards and the touchdown.
Herkey Marxen kicked a 39-yard field goal early in the third quarter to close the gap to 13-10, but again the Kingsmen answered quickly when Henderson broke a tackle behind the line of scrimmage and ran 10 yards for the touchdown. Bees connected with Bankhead for the 2-point conversion.