As Kaden Jenks hit the ground, the whole of Stewart Stadium drew a collective breath.
Jenks, a redshirt freshman quarterback, was knocked out of his team’s matchup with Montana State University late in the second quarter after sustaining a grisly ankle injury on Oct. 20.
After receiving medical attention from both teams, Jenks was carted off the field and out of the stadium, at which point the Wildcats were trailing 17–7.
Despite the mid-game misfortune, however, the Wildcats rallied for a 34–24 victory over the Bobcats in front of over 8,000 fans.
The win pushed Weber State to No. 4 in the STATS FCS poll: their highest ranking in school history.
WSU head coach Jay Hill said Jenks wanted to stay in the game before being carted off.
“When they moved that ankle back into place, he said ‘Tape it up, and let me go back in there,’” Hill said. “That’s the toughness that can rally a football team.”
Despite trailing by 10 points, Hill said his team huddled and agreed they were going to win the game for Jenks.
“I heard them say it: ‘We’re going to go win this for Kaden,’” Hill said. “You want to see them bind together over something like that.”
Sophomore Jake Constantine started as quarterback for the Wildcats but was removed due to ineffective performance. He was intercepted inside the red zone on WSU’s first possession of the game, which allowed the Bobcats to score a touchdown three plays later.
Weber State regained posession of the ball and marched downfield, led by a 45-yard rush by redshirt freshman running back Josh Davis. MSU held WSU to a field goal attempt, which went awry twice for sophomore kicker Trey Tuttle.
Tuttle missed from 33 yards out, but the Bobcats were flagged for running into the kicker. Given a second chance, Tuttle kicked wide left on a 28-yard attempt.
The Wildcats received more of the same on their next drive, during which Constantine threw another interception in his own territory. The Bobcats connected on a field goal early in the second quarter, bringing the score to 10–0.
Exit Constantine, enter Jenks.
Jenks connected with freshman wide receiver Devon Cooley for a first down, but the drive stalled, and junior punter Doug Lloyd punted the ball back the the Bobcats.
On the ensuing Bobcat drive, the WSU defense made their presence known. Senior cornerback Jordan Preator stepped in front of a pass from sophomore quarterback Troy Andersen, picked it off and returned it to the Wildcats’ 13.
The ’Cats took advantage of the interception, and Jenks scored on an eight-yard run to cut the deficit to 10–7.
The Bobcats immediately snatched momentum back. Andersen kept the ball, split the Wildcats defense and ran 71 yards untouched into the end zone to give his team a 10-point lead.
Constantine’s first pass, back into the game, was complete to redshirt freshman tight end Justin Malone for 22 yards. After another short gain by Malone, Constantine found Cooley for 18 yards to the 1-yard line. Senior running back Treshawn Garrett punched it in from there to make the score 17–14 at halftime.
“I thought he (Constantine) bounced back well,” Hill said. “It’s not easy to get benched. I gave him the game ball today because I thought he did a great job of bouncing back from a difficult situation.”
Weber State received the second half kickoff, and Constantine led his squad down the field and into the red zone. He completed passes to three running backs during the drive as sophomore Clay Moss complemented Davis and Garrett with receptions. Tuttle capped the drive with a 35-yard field goal to tie the contest.
On WSU’s next drive after forcing a punt, Constantine committed his third miscue of the day. His pass was picked and returned 27 yards by Greg Filer III into the end zone, and Montana State recaptured the lead.
But the Wildcats had an answer.
Davis and Garrett started the ensuing drive with consecutive 24-yard runs to put WSU inside the red zone again. For the second time, Garrett ran in for a one-yard score.
“I think we got our first-half jitters out,” Garrett said. “We knew we came out flat and had to pick it up in the second half.”
Weber State forced a three and out, and drove down the field as the fourth quarter began. Sophomore wide receiver Rashid Shaheed delivered a key contribution: a 25-yard reception.
With WSU facing third and goal at the one-yard line, Garrett was the answer for the third time, scoring again to give the Wildcats a lead they would not relinquish.
“Being a captain, I know they are going to rely on me with the run game,” Garrett said. “When I see the holes, there is just an upbeat mentality from there.”
Weber State’s defense continued their relentless attack, inducing two more unproductive Montana State drives. While the Wildcats watched offensive threats fizzle out, Lloyd delivered on the
Lloyd came through with punts of 36 and 49 yards in the fourth quarter, one of which pinned the Bobcats at their own three-yard line.
“Doug Lloyd is a big weapon for us,” Hill said. “He does a good job of holding onto the ball. He kicks it 40 yards and makes it difficult for returners to feel like they have much space in front of them.”
Trailing by seven, MSU had the ball with 5:49 remaining. WSU senior cornerback Keilan Benjamin intercepted Andersen and returned it to the 14-yard line.
“We want to be the number one defense in the country,” Benjamin said. “We gave up 17 early, and we want to be more consistent than that. We don’t want to give up anything at all.”
The Wildcats milked the clock and scored when Tuttle connected from 22 yards out to give his team a two-score lead with 2:27 on the clock.
A last-ditch effort for the Bobcats came up empty as Weber State took over on downs and ran out the clock for the 34–24 triumph.
With the victory, the Wildcats improved to 5-2 on the season and will take on No. 22 North Dakota on the road Oct. 27 at 1 p.m.