FOOTBALL'S COMBEBACK BID FALLS JUST SHORT IN 32-27 LOSS TO WEBER STATE
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Weber State’s offense put up big numbers on Saturday, but it was the Wildcat defense which preserved a 32-27 win over Sacramento State in the Big Sky opener for both teams at Hornet Stadium on Saturday.
The Wildcats (3-1, 1-0) stopped Evander Wilkins on 4th-and-1 at midfield with 2:14 to play to hold on for the win. Sacramento State (2-2, 0-1) trailed 32-20 early in the fourth quarter before sophomore quarterback Duncan White led the team on a 10-play, 71-yard scoring drive which was capped by a yard touchdown pass to Dylan Lane with 5:31 to play. After the Hornet defense forced Weber State to punt, White began moving the offense up the field with consecutive completions. However, an incompletion on 2nd-and-5 and a 4-yard gain on third down led to the stop of Wilkins on a rush up the middle.
Weber State was balanced throughout the game as the team compiled 513 yards of total offense. Quarterback Cameron Higgins competed 21-of-33 passes for 380 yards and four touchdowns while running back Trevyn Smith rushed for 123 yards on 24 carries. The team scored on its first possession of the game when Higgins found Bryant Eteuati for a 19-yard score midway through the first period.
Sacramento State answered back just two plays later with a 67-yard touchdown pass from starter McLeod Bethel-Thompson to Tony Washington down the left sideline to tie the score. The shootout continued on the ensuing drive which ended with a 4-yard rushing TD for Higgins with 2:45 left in the opening period. Sacramento State appeared to have WSU stopped during the drive and would have received the ball near midfield after a punt but the team was flagged for having 12 men on the field which gave the ball back to the Wildcats.
The Hornets trimmed their deficit to 14-10 with a career-long tying 48-yard field goal from Juan Gamboa early in the second quarter to end the first half scoring.
The third quarter proved to be equally as explosive as the first. Higgins led Weber State on an 80-yard drive to start the quarter which ended with a 7-yard reception from Cody Nakamura to make the score 20-10. Gamboa tacked on a 25-yard field goal and Eteuati fumbled the kickoff which was recovered by Matt Evans to set up a 2-yard rush from Jake Croxdale to tie the score, 20-20, with 2:31 left in the period.
The Wildcats struck back with a 60-yard touchdown reception from Tim Toone and never relinquished the lead. A second TD reception from Eteuati made the score 32-20 with 10:56 remaining.
White was inserted into the lineup after Bethel-Thompson suffered a left knee injury on the second play of the fourth quarter. The Lake Oswego, Ore., native, responded by completing 9-of-15 passes for 114 yards and throwing his first career touchdown pass. Bethel-Thompson, who was starting in place of the injured Jason Smith, was 8-of-15 for 152 yards and a TD.
Wilkins was the featured back for the Hornet attack, rushing 28 times for 93 yards. Croxdale, who had over 100 yards against Southern Oregon last week, rushed just three times for four yards.
Kyle Hill, Washington and Lane led the receiving corps. Hill caught five passes for 85 yards, Washington had three for 81 and Lane grabbed four for 34.
Defensively, freshman Deionte Gordon and sophomore Peter Buck led the Hornets with 10 tackles apiece. Cyrus Mulitalo added nine while Evans had seven.
Sacramento State concludes its three-game homestand against Portland State on Saturday, Sept. 27, at 2:05 p.m. The game will also serve as the University’s Homecoming.
NOTES: Smith became the first opponent to rush for over 100 yards against the Hornets since he tallied 110 last season on Oct. 6…the Wildcats amassed the most total yards against Sacramento State since Eastern Washington had 566 on Oct. 29, 2005…Washington's 67-yard TD was the longest reception of his Hornet career and the longest TD by a Hornet since Ryan Coogler went 74 yards against Northern Arizona last season…Gamboa's 48-yard field matched his career long which came on both 2006 and 2007.