For three and a half quarters, the Weber State University football team looked like it might upset the No. 2 ranked Montana State University Bobcats, but everything fell apart for the Wildcats in the end.
Linebacker Anthony Morales said WSU has suffered from not playing a full four quarters for much of the season.
“Like I said, it’s the story of the season is inconsistency and not playing four quarters,” Morales said.
In the first half of the game, WSU forced four turnovers in the first half, but struggled with ball control after the break.
Assistant Coach Matt Hammer said the Wildcats were hurt by ball control and mental errors in the second half of the game.
“We did a better job protecting the football in the first half,” Hammer said. “We got an interception early. But the second half, they took care of the football, and we didn’t, and that’s how the tide turned in the second half.”
MSU was looking good on its first possession of the game and easily moved the ball to midfield. The Wildcat defense came up big, and Devin Pugh pulled in an interception to give the Wildcats the ball for the first time.
Josh Booker sparked the WSU offense on the Wildcats’ first drive of the game, helping WSU get into the Bobcat half of the field, but the Wildcats weren’t able to score and turned the ball over following a missed field goal.
On MSU’s first play of its second drive, quarterback DeNairus McGhee threw his second interception of the game, giving WSU a good field position inside the Bobcat red zone. This time, the Wildcats were able to capitalize, and C.J. Tucket ran the ball in from the five-yard line to take the 7-0 lead.
The Wildcat lead was short lived, as MSU converted a field goal, then intercepted a Mike Hoke pass and put together a three-play drive to take a 10-7 lead near the end of the first quarter. McGhee completed a 26-yard pass to Kruiz Siewing.
When it looked as if the Bobcats were taking control of the game, the Wildcats answered in an electrifying way. After putting together a good drive into the MSU territory, Booker broke a 39-yard run down the right side of the field to give WSU a 14-10 lead.
At the start of the second quarter, WSU recovered a MSU fumble and looked to put more pressure on the Bobcats. The Wildcats once again took advantage of the good field position when Booker broke through the goal line for his second touchdown of the game, giving WSU a 21-10 lead.
Luck was with the Wildcats on the following kickoff. MSU’s Shawn Johnson took the kick at the five-yard line and ran the length of the field into the end zone, but there was a holding penalty on the Bobcats, and the touchdown was called back.
The string of good luck continued for WSU as McGhee fumbled the ball again, which was recovered by Neal on the 32-yard line.
Near the end of the second quarter, MSU scored its second touchdown of the half on a one-yard run from running back Tray Robinson.
WSU got the ball back with less than two minutes in the half and once again moved quickly down the field. Hoke completed a pass to Shaydon Kehano to get the Wildcats into the red zone. With 38 seconds in the half, Shaun McClain hit a field goal to give WSU a 24-17 lead. The Bobcats quickly drove down the field and hit a field goal to cut the lead to 24-20 at the half.
The Bobcats took the lead again halfway through the third quarter. McGhee completed a long pass to Elvis Akpla, taking the ball down to the five-yard line, and on the next play, McGhee threw a touchdown pass to Steven Foster to give MSU a three-point lead.
MSU struck again on its next possession with a 26-yard field goal to extend its lead to 30-24 at the end of the third quarter.
With the Wildcats pinned deep in their half of the field on third and 13, Hoke completed a pass to Kehano in the middle of the field to spark a WSU drive. On the drive, he completed drive-extending passes to Chase Nakamura and scrambled for another first down. Despite being deep in MSU territory, the Wildcats couldn’t score when MSU blocked a McClain field goal attempt.
While the game was close for three and a half quarters, MSU closed the door with 6:25 left in the fourth quarter. The Bobcats drove down the field and scored a touchdown from a 37-yard pass to make it a 37-24 lead.
With the win, MSU clinched at least part of the Big Sky Conference title. The Wildcats will stay at home when they will host Northern Arizona University on Nov. 12.