Despite putting up over 200 yards of offense and scoring 22 points in the first quarter, the Weber State football team lost its ninth consecutive game falling to Northern Arizona 29-22.
The Wildcats running game was the key to their success in the first quarter, as six Wildcats combined for 186 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 19 attempts. Starting quarterback Jadrian Clark led the Wildcats in the first quarter with 78 yards rushing and two touchdowns on five attempts.
Weber State continued its success into the second quarter, as senior defensive end Dustin Martin forced a fumble by Lumberjack quarterback Jordan Perry on the first play of the quarter that was recovered by senior safety Tyron Morris-Edwards. Two plays later Clark threw a 22-yard pass to the endzone that was intercepted by NAU junior cornerback Marcus Alford. From there, the momentum swung in Northern Arizona’s favor, as they scored on three consecutive drives to end the half with the score tied at 22-22.
“I felt like I let my team down there,” Clark said about the interception. “The big thing we were supposed to be emphasizing this week was ball security. I tried to throw it away but I didn’t get enough on it. My mistake. I let the team down there.”
WSU head coach Jay Hill said even thought it shouldn’t have been, the interception was the game-changer for the Wildcats.
“That was huge. That was the game. It shouldn’t be the game, you gotta have more resiliency. You throw a pick, they get the ball at the 20-yard line, you’re still up 22-0, and that should not be the game. It did flip the tide, it got (NAU) believing and going,” Hill said. “The biggest thing I was disappointed in, it was almost like a notion or a sentiment on the sideline that, ‘OK, here we go again. That’s gonna happen.’ And that’s gotta change around here. You gotta overcome that stuff, you’re still up 22-0.”
The Lumberjacks scored the game-winning touchdown halfway through the third quarter on a one-yard run from junior fullback Nick Butier to go up 29-22. From there, the Wildcats never caught up, and they came up short on two crucial drives late in the fourth quarter.
“I guess, in my opinion, I thought we relaxed as a defense,” said sophomore linebacker Felix Woods. “I feel like we kind of slacked off a bit.”
Hill said although he liked how the team started to battle back in the fourth quarter, despite coming up short in the end, he was not pleased with how the team performed in the second and third quarter.
“I’m very disappointed with the way we handled the second and third and fourth quarters,” Hill said. “Usually when you run the ball for 300 yards you win, this was not one of those games. The turnover really kind of crushed our momentum. Killed what we were doing. And we didn’t handle for sure the second and third quarters very well.”
Clark finished the game throwing 5-20 for 90 yards and an interception. He also rushed for 122 yards and two of the Wildcats’ three touchdowns on 11 attempts.
Sophomore wide receiver Cameron Livingston led the team in receiving, catching four passes for 50 yards. Senior wide receiver Shaydon Kehano was the only other Wildcat to catch a pass in the loss, making a diving catch for 40 yards in the fourth quarter. Woods led the Wildcat defense with 14 total tackles.
Punter Blake O’Neill had six punts for 300 yards in the loss, including a 71-yard punt in the third quarter, his second punt of 70 or more yards this season. O’Neill’s average of 50.00 yards per punt tied him with Brent Chuhaniuk for the 12th best single-game punting average in Weber State history.
The Wildcats are now 0-9 for the second time in team history. In 1975, the Wildcats dropped to 0-9-1 after losing to UNLV. Weber State finished that season with a 1-9-1 record, after defeating Northern Arizona in their final game of the season.
Looking forward to the remainder of their season, Clark was confident that the team would be able to bounce back.
“I think that we’re gonna be alright. We’re gonna bounce back. A lot of guys on this team are resilient warriors, they’re not just gonna lay down, and we’re not just gonna keep getting beat,” Clark said. “We’re not done. We’re not ever gonna just roll over. I think we’ll be alright. The team is hurting right now, they’re mourning the loss and that’s natural. That’s all we can do.”