Homecoming week ended on a low when the Wildcats fell to the Montana State Bobcats 13–7 on Oct. 15.

Weber State tried to hold their own in the defensive showdown against Bobcat quarterback Matthew McKay, who has averaged 461.3 yards per game. The Wildcats’ defense held McKay to 76 yards passing, 12-of-19 throws and sacked him twice. It was all for naught as McKay ultimately led MSU to their sixth straight win of the season.

Tensions were high following a kick return made by Weber State's Rashid Shaheed, 22, against Montana State University.
Tensions were high following a kick return made by Weber State's Rashid Shaheed, 22, against Montana State University. (Bella Torres / The Signpost)

“The defense played absolutely phenomenal, ” Wildcat head coach Jay Hill said. “I’m very proud of the defense. We put them into some tough situations and they got out of them.”

Wildcats held Bobcats’ running back Isaiah Ifanse to 81 yards despite his over-100 yard average. WSU’s defense also stifled MSU to 1-of-14 on third down plays.

“I feel like everyone was really disciplined,” senior linebacker Conner Mortensen said. “Guys were just playing super hard and making really good plays, and everyone had each other’s backs and were hyped to be on the field.”

The Weber State offense anticipates the call to begin the drive against Montana State (Lisa Rajigah/The Signpost)
The Weber State offense anticipates the call to begin the drive against Montana State (Lisa Rajigah/The Signpost)

Mortensen finished the night with six tackles, and sophomore cornerback Maxwell Anderson led the Wildcats with eight.

Weber State offense didn’t capitalize on their team’s defensive strategy. Freshman quarterback Bronson Barron went 16-of-29 passing for 215 yards and was sacked four times and lost a fumble by the end of the night.

“We didn’t have all 11 of us doing what we need to do to have that same type of drive like we did that first series,” Barron said. “It’s not what the other team’s doing; it’s just what we’re doing. We just gotta hold ourselves accountable.”

Wildcat's defense disperse following an attempted touchdown for the Bobcats. (Bella Torres / The Signpost)

Barron’s return appeared to give the team a new energy to start off the game, leading the Wildcats to an opening 10-play 97-yard touchdown drive, beginning with a pass to senior wide receiver Rashid Shaheed.

The Wildcats ended the drive with what would be their only points of the night when junior running back Josh Davis found the edge on first-and-goal and ran in a touchdown from 9 yards out.

“Offensively, I don’t know what it is,” Hill said. “We went right down the field and looked phenomenal on the first drive.”

Montana State's Elijah Elliott, 13, rushes against the Weber State defense. (Bella torres / The Signpost)
Montana State's Elijah Elliott, 13, rushes against the Weber State defense. (Bella torres / The Signpost)

Following the strong outset, the Wildcats’ offense ran out of gas.

The next Wildcat possession ended in a three-and-out after a pass failed to connect across the middle of the field.

The Bobcats took possession, and McKay punched the ball in the end zone for the Bobcats on a 1-yard quarterback keeper to tie the game up at 7–7 at the end of the first quarter.

Several stalled drives led to punts from both sides through the rest of the half, taking the tie into the second half.

“In a way, I think we’re making offensive football too hard,” Hill said. “Block who you’re supposed to block; throw the ball to who you’re supposed to throw it to. Right now we need to get our mojo going on offense.”

Energies remain high on the sidelines as Ally Anderson (left) and Gabi Butler (right) join hands in their cupies. (Bella Torres / The Signpost)
Energies remain high on the sidelines as Ally Anderson and Gabi Butler join hands. (Bella Torres / The Signpost)

The teams’ defenses were the stars of the last 30 minutes of play, but it was the Bobcats that put together enough plays to hit two field goals in the third quarter to take home the win.

The defensive struggle was on full display when in the first half a streak of six straight punts between the two teams occurred, and the second half saw a series of five straight punts.

Weber State's Eddie Heckard, 5, prepares the tackle on Montana State's Tanner Trafton, 16. (Bella Torres / The Signpost)
Weber State's Eddie Heckard, 5, prepares the tackle on Montana State's Tanner Trafton, 16. (Bella Torres / The Signpost)

Wildcat punter Mackenzie Morgan punted eight times for an average of 39.6 yards per punt and Montana State punter Bryce Leighton booted the ball seven times for a 40.6 yards-per-punt average.

“There were times we had stuff wide open, but don’t have time to get the ball off,” Hill said. “We had Rashid twice tonight for wide open touchdowns and get sacked. We got to find ways to protect the quarterback.”

Weber State heads north to the Pacific Northwest to take on No. 2-ranked Eastern Washington.

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