On a night where excitement filled the Stewart Stadium sporting its new loo, the 1-1 Weber State Wildcats buried the 1-1 Cal Poly Mustangs in a 41-24 shootout. However, fear took over the Wildcats late in the second half after a star WSU player went down with an injury.
WSU’s junior quarterback Jake Constantine completed 17 of 23 of his passes for 137 yards and a touchdown before leaving the game with a knee injury late in the second half. Constantine has suffered an ACL tear previously on that same knee.
Head Coach Jay Hill gave an update after the game, saying, “I’ll go down to the training room right now, they said they don’t believe it’s an ACL or anything major at this point but you never quite know.”
Last weekend in San Diego, Constantine, the Weber State offense had a hard time getting settled. This weekend in Ogden, though, they lit up the scoreboard to a tune of 42 points.
The Wildcats had a hard time running the ball in the opener but on the night of Sept. 7, the running backs flexed their muscles. Sophomore running back Josh Davis ran for 137 yards on 14 attempts, junior running back Kevin Smith had 13 carries for 118 yards and a redshirt freshmen scored his first career touchdown as he scored twice on only six carries.
“We have great receivers, great running backs and we felt that with their defense,” Smith said. “I feel like we did a great job gashing them and our line did a great job.”
Weber State’s first points of the season came after the defense forced a punt and the Wildcats drove down the field with Davis getting most of the action. The offense got into comfortable range for junior kicker Trey Tuttle, who nailed it, giving WSU a 3-0 lead after their opening drive.
The Wildcats defense knew that they would have their hands full trying to contain the Mustang’s triple-option offense and after the first couple drives, it was easy to see why. An offense designed for read-option run plays had some passes mixed in and they caught the Wildcats off guard which resulted in a few first downs. Eventually, the Wildcats began to contain the Mustangs despite the 24 points they put on the board.
Senior linebacker Auston Teach, who finished with 11 tackles, explained the adjustment when it comes to playing Cal Poly.
“I’m really proud of the young guys and how they stepped up,” he said. “Especially those who it’s their first time playing Cal Poly, this was an option team so we had to completely change our scheme for one game of the year.”
Early in the game, Poly had a drive going but the Wildcat defense came alive after sophomore linebacker Noah Vaea found himself in the opposing backfield with a tackle for a loss. Cal Poly then had an incompletion and was forced to kick a field goal which tied the game up at 3-3.
In the second quarter, both teams began to feel each other out, which led to them exchanging big plays on drives that ended in touchdowns. The first came from Cal Poly on a 47-yard-run from the Mustang QB.
Next, it was the Wildcats turn; junior running back Kevin Smith ripped off a 47-yard-rush of his own, and the drive was capped off by Constantine as he delivered a 20-yard floater to junior wide receiver Rashid Shaheed for a touchdown.
Both drives marked a first for the ‘Cats: the first touchdown they surrendered and the first touchdown they scored in the new season. The game was knotted at 10-10 as the opening half began to wind down.
On the final drive of the second half, the WSU offense put together a surgical, 9 play, 77-yard drive that took 1:36 off the clock. Constantine went 6 of 7 on the drive and ran for a first down before Josh Davis took a carry for 22 yards into the endzone for a Weber State touchdown and a 17-10 lead heading into halftime.
At the half, senior linebacker Austin Tesch led the Cats’ with eight tackles and cornerback Dave Jones followed him with five tackles of his own. On offense, Davis and Smith each had 55 yards, but Davis had a touchdown to his name. Constantine went 16 for 20 for 131 yards and a touchdown.
The second half opened with more of last season’s freshman of the year Josh Davis, as he rushed for 30 and 18 yards on back to back plays. The Cats’ offense began to stall before Constantine made a play with his legs to give Weber a fresh set of downs inside the red zone. The drive ended with Kris Jackson crossing the goal line from three yards out to give him his first career touchdown and gift the Cats’ a 24-10 lead.
On the following drive, Cal Poly drove down the field but the Wildcats’ defense returned to their “bend, don’t break” motto they maintained against SDSU. Cal Poly tried to punch it in third and fourth downs inside the three-yard line, but the ‘Cats put an end to the drive after getting back-to-back stops on inside runs.
Late into the third quarter, though, the Wildcats got sloppy. After Cal Poly returned a fumble for a touchdown, the refs overturned the call and said the fumble was actually an incomplete pass. On the very next play, the Wildcats fumbled in the endzone and Cal Poly recovered it to trim the WSU lead to 24-17.
The Cats’ next drive was when Constantine went down, grabbing his knee, which struck fear into the heart of WSU fans. Constantine’s injury meant the return of sophomore QB Kaden Jenks, who worked hard to overcome an injury that he suffered last season and kept him out for the rest of it. Jenks came in and completed a short pass, but Weber State was forced to punt.
On the WSU punt, the ball grazed a Mustang player, and the Cats’ recovered, which gave them a fresh set of downs. Constantine returned to the game and tried to throw a pass but could hardly drop back to pass, which resulted in Jenks returning to the game and the end to Constantine’s night.
As the final quarter began, WSU was in striking distance and on Weber’s second play of the drive, they gave Davis the ball and he ran 18 yards untouched for another score. The Wildcats then held a 31-17 lead.
With Cal Poly needing a momentum shift on offense, the Wildcat defense came up with a turnover after a bad pitch led to a fumble, which gifted Jenks and the WSU offense great field position.
As Jenks continued to get comfortable, he hit sophomore WR Devon Cooley to get inside the red zone and then ran a QB keeper to get down to the one-yard line. The Cats’ capped off the drive with a physical run from Jackson to give him his second touchdown of the night and a 38 to 17 WSU lead with just under seven minutes left in the game.
Cal Poly responded from their turnover with a 50-yard-rush on the second play of the drive to bring the score down to 38-24. After Shaheed fielded a kickoff, he took a late hit out of bounds and the game started to get chippy.
WSU ignored the chatter by showing their toughness and began to run out the clock with physical run after physical run; the drive ended with Tuttle knocking in a 30-yard field goal to give the Cats’ a 41-24 advantage, and that score held until the clock struck zero.
Next up for Weber State is a shot at another FBS upset as they travel to Reno, Nevada, to battle the 1-1 Nevada Wolfpack at 5 p.m.