Southern Utah faces Fort Lewis in home opener
College football • John L. Smith returns to Utah as coach of Skyhawks.
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Cedar City • Southern Utah opens its home season Saturday night when the Thunderbirds play host to Fort Lewis College at Eccles Coliseum.

SUU shouldn't have much trouble with the Skyhawks, who play in the Division II Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference with schools like Black Hills State, Colorado Mines and New Mexico Highlands.

Southern Utah (1-0) comes off a thrilling 22-21 win at South Alabama, a Football Bowl Subdivision school from the Sun Belt Conference.

Senior Colton Cook kicked a 28-yard field goal as time expired to give the Thunderbirds their second win over an FBS school in three years. They also defeated UNLV, 41-16, in 2011.

Colton's field goal was the 36th of his career, only two shy of Herky Marxen's school record of 38.

Southern Utah looks for its sixth straight win in a home opener against Fort Lewis, which finished 0-10 last season but is now coached by John L. Smith.

Since 1989, Smith has been the head coach at Idaho, Utah State, Louisville, Michigan State, Weber State and Arkansas before being hired at Fort Lewis

Smith coached Weber State, his alma mater, for only four months before leaving in April 2012. He took the job as the interim head coach at Arkansas, but he was let go after the Razorbacks went 4-8 last season. —

Fort Lewis at Southern Utah

O At Eccles Coliseum

Kickoff • Saturday, 6 p.m.

TV • None

Radio • 91.1 FM

Records • Southern Utah 1-0, Fort Lewis 0-0

Series • Southern Utah leads, 20-10

Last meeting • Southern Utah, 54-16 (2000)

About the Thunderbirds • They have won five straight home openers under coach Ed Lamb. … They come off a 22-21 victory at South Alabama. … In the win, freshman RB Raysean Martin carried 23 times for 107 yards and a touchdown.

About the Skyhawks • This is their season opener. … A Division II school from Durango, Colo., they went 0-10 last season, including a 69-0 loss to Northern Arizona of the Big Sky Conference. … They haven't beaten SUU since a 28-6 victory in 1984.