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Bozeman, Mt. • Southern Utah earned a program-defining victory after its second straight trip to Montana's Gallatin Valley,
Malik Brown and Levi Te'o each rushed for two touchdowns and Southern Utah beat Montana state 34-23 on Saturday to remain undefeated in Big Sky Conference play. The Thunderbirds won for a program-record seventh straight time, including six straight to begin league play.
In SUU's last trip to Bozeman, the Thunderbirds posted a 22-14 win that helped them earn their first berth in the FCS playoffs in program history while ensuring Montana State missed the playoffs for the first time since 2009.
"The magnitude going down the stretch and having a good run going in conference and what Montana State represents, it's just a huge win," Southern Utah eighth-year head coach Ed Lamb said. "We got their best effort and that is a huge compliment for where they are at and what they are facing."
Southern Utah quarterback Ammon Olsen threw for 243 yards and a 20-yard touchdown to Mike Sharp for a 13-10 lead early in the third quarter. SUU would not trail again.
Te'o and Brown combined to rush for 151 yards and scored three of their four touchdowns after halftime as SUU dropped Montana State to 2-4 in conference play, 4-5 overall.
Southern Utah senior defensive end James Cowser notched a first-quarter sack, giving him the Big Sky Conference and Football Championship Subdivision records for tackles for loss in a career with 73.5. Idaho State standout and NFL All Pro Jared Allen previously held the Big Sky record.
Montana State ran the ball on 11 of 12 plays on its opening drive, a scoring march capped by junior Chad Newell's 10th touchdown of the season to give MSU a 7-0 lead. MSU added a Luke Daly 32-yard field goal to take a 10-7 lead into halftime. Newell and tight end Beau Sandland would add touchdowns after halftime for MSU.
"That's a very good football team," MSU ninth-year head coach Rob Ash said. "They are big and strong and they run very well. We battled in the first half but that's a very good football team."