On the brink of losing their second consecutive home game, the Weber State University football team rallied together to score 15 unanswered points in the fourth quarter in a come-from-behind 25-24 win over the University of North Dakota on Saturday night.
After a 22-yard touchdown pass to start the fourth quarter, North Dakota held a 24-10 lead against Weber State. The Wildcats only recorded 212 yards on offense compared to North Dakota’s 324. Senior kicker Josh Kealamakia started off the Wildcats’ comeback with a 43-yard field goal to bring WSU within two scoring plays of UND.
The Wildcat defense forced North Dakota to punt on their next possession to give Weber State the ball on their 15-yard line. Junior quarterback Jadrian Clark proceeded to lead the Wildcats 85 yards down the field to score the touchdown on a 38-yard reception from sophomore tight end Tui Satuala.
With the Wildcats down by five points, sophomore linebacker Emmett Tela knocked the ball loose from North Dakota quarterback Ryan Bartels’ hands and recovered the fumble.
“I’ve said this before, I think Emmett Tela is one heck of a player,” said WSU Head Coach Jay Hill. “He flat out took the game over and brought life to the defense. I just can’t say enough about him. We need more players like him.”
Two plays later, the Wildcats took their first lead of the night as Clark connected with junior tight end Cody Eyolfson for a five-yard touchdown to make the score 25-24.
North Dakota was unable to penetrate the Wildcat defense on their final three possessions, as Tela intercepted a pass just before the two-minute warning, which allowed Weber State to run time off the clock and seal the victory.
“I certainly wasn’t pleased with how we started the game. We didn’t have the energy or passion we needed and we got on our heels,” Hill said. “We finally got things going offensively and defensively in the second half and we had a much different look in the second half. It was a great win but we still have a lot to improve on.”
Clark threw for 130 yards and two touchdowns in the fourth quarter. He finished the night completing 21 of 35 pass attempts for a career-high of 273 yards and three touchdowns. Clark saw most of his success with sophomore wide receiver Darryl Denby. Denby finished the night with seven receptions for a career-high of 130 yards and a touchdown. Satuala was second among the team’s receivers with 50 yards and a touchdown on three receptions.
Along with the fumble recovery and the interception, Tela led the Wildcats with 10 tackles on the night. Junior linebacker Tre’von Johnson finished with seven tackles, including a game-high of two sacks.
“It feels amazing to finally pull it out. It feels great to finally come out with one and show people that we can really do this,” Tela said.
The Wildcats are 4-3 overall for the first time since 2010, and are 3-1 in the Big Sky Conference for the first time since 2011. Eastern Washington University and Southern Utah University are the only two teams currently ahead of the Wildcats in the conference standings with 3-0 win-loss records.
Weber State will go back on the road for their next two games, playing at Northern Arizona University on Saturday and at Eastern Washington University on Oct. 31. They return home for their final two games of the season beginning on Nov. 7 when they host the University of California, Davis.