The Weber State University football team kicked off its season Saturday against Stephen F. Austin State University. The Wildcats started hot and held off a late surge to win the game 50-40.
The Wildcats were lights out in the first quarter, scoring on offense, defense and special teams. They wasted no time getting started as they established their first drive of their new hurry-up offense. The team proceeded to drive 85 yards down the field in just one minute and 39 seconds, capping a six-play drive with a 39-yard touchdown run by wide receiver Erik Walker. The Wildcats made a two-point conversion to go up 8-0.
“That was unreal,” said WSU quarterback Jordan Adamczyk. “We actually had a goal to score on the sixth play. That was the plan. They usually don’t really end up like that. It happened, and we were stoked. It definitely got things going fast for the offense and defense.”
After exchanging punts, the Lumberjacks began their drive at midfield. On the third play of the drive, WSU safety D.J. Bush intercepted quarterback Brady Attaway at the WSU 30-yard line, returning the interception 70 yards for the touchdown. The interception was the third-longest interception return in WSU history. The Wildcats were successful on another two-point conversion, putting them up 16-0.
“The ball got out a little bit late, and it gave me a chance to close on it, and I kind of stole it from him,” Bush said. “I was looking around, hoping no one was right there, and I saw I was in the clear. It was pretty exciting, especially that early in the game. It kind of set the tone a little bit.”
The Lumberjacks got on the board soon after, when Attaway hit wide receiver D.J. Ward for a 36-yard touchdown. After the extra point, the score read 16-7.
After the touchdown, WSU running back Bo Bolen received the kickoff one yard deep in the end zone and, finding a seam, returned the ball to the house for a 100-yard touchdown. WSU kicked an extra point, and the score read 23-7.
The Wildcats had a few more opportunities in the second quarter but were unable to capitalize on them.
With two minutes left, WSU had the ball deep in its own territory when Adamczyk threw an interception that was returned to the 20-yard line. The defense held the Lumberjacks to a field goal, ending the half with the score at 23-10.
To begin the second half, the Lumberjacks wasted no time as Attaway hit wide receiver Mike Brooks on consecutive plays for 61 yards and a 14-yard touchdown. The drive took just 25 seconds off of the clock. The score read 23-17.
The Wildcats responded quickly, pounding the ball on the ground and driving the Lumberjacks back. The drive was capped off by a 28-yard touchdown from Adamczyk to Walker. With the extra point, the Wildcats regained a 13-point lead, 30-17.
The Lumberjacks answered right back, driving the ball 75 yards, finishing off with a 34-yard touchdown pass from Attaway to wide out Aaron Thomas. That brought the score to 30-24.
The Wildcats took the kickoff and went right back down the field, driving 79 yards on 12 plays. The drive was finished off with a one-yard run by Bolen. The Wildcats failed on their two-point conversion, and the score read 36-24.
The Wildcats scored three drives later on a 19-yard run by Bolen, capping off a seven-play, 46-yard drive. The extra point brought the score to 43-27 for WSU.
WSU faced adversity late, giving up consecutive touchdown drives that cut the lead to 43-40.
The Wildcats responded with a late touchdown drive of their own when running back Zach Smith received a reverse and took it 57 yards for the touchdown. That sealed the deal as the Wildcats took a 50-40 lead.
WSU head coach Jody Sears stressed the importance of finishing during the offseason, and his team showed him how it would react during difficult situations.
“I just remember walking down the side and going, ‘Well, here is the moment of truth here, boys,’ and three plays later we hit the reverse to Zach,” Sears said. “The kids on the sideline did a great job of just believing in each other, trusting each other and continuing to support each other.”
Bolen rushed for 85 yards and had three touchdowns for the Wildcats. Attaway finished the game 37-62 for 450 yards with four touchdowns and three picks.
The Wildcats will begin a three-game road stint as they make the short trip to Salt Lake City to take on the University of Utah next Saturday at the Rice-Eccles Stadium.
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KWCR highlights of the game