WSU falls flat against Aggies

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Weber State University’s Mike Hoke scrambles away from three defenders in the game against Utah State University.

For 30 minutes, it looked like the Weber State University Football Team might pull an upset over the Utah State University Aggies, but everything changed after halftime. The Aggies ran to a 54-17 victory.

Nick Webb, WSU linebacker and defensive team captain, said that the Wildcats were only competitive for half of a game, and that in the second half, the team came out flat.

“We played half a game,” Webb said. “We didn’t play a full game. We didn’t come out strong in the second half. . . . All in all, we just didn’t come out as a team in the second half.”

WSU Head Coach Ron McBride said that the Wildcats didn’t do what they needed to in order to win the game.

“I knew that if we were going to win this game,” McBride said, “we were going to have to control them and make it tough on them from the offensive side of the ball, which we didn’t.”

The Aggies dominated the second half of the game; the Wildcats were unable to stop the Aggies’ rushing attack. USU racked up 440 rushing yards in the game. McBride said that WSU didn’t challenge the Aggies’ rushing game.

“Just look at the stats,” McBride said. “. . . If you get 440 yards rushing against somebody, it’s like you’re going against nothing. It’s like you’re going against air. It’s not hard to get 440 yards rushing against air. That’s just embarrassing.”

The first half started out slow, with both teams punting multiple times. USU was the first team to put together a drive when running back Mike Smith broke into a 28-yard run down the right side of the field, which led to the first score of the game and a 41-yard field goal, which put the Aggies up 3-0.

The Wildcats answered quickly. They embarked on a seven-play 75-yard drive, which saw WSU pull out a trick play. Hoke snapped the ball and passed across the field to Eric Shufford, who threw a deep ball to Austin Raught, who was tackled on the one-yard line. The ’Cats scored on a one-yard run by fullback Tanner Hinds to take the 7-3 lead near the end of the first quarter.

In the second quarter, WSU found its rhythm on offense. The Wildcats drove down the field, aided by a second illegal substitution penalty on USU. Tyrell Francisco took the ball into the end zone on a six-yard pass to give the ‘Cats their second lead of the game.

The Wildcats’ defense looked strong in the first half of the game as well. They forced two fumbles, which led to two WSU scoring drives. USU tied up the game before the halftime at 17. The defense also stopped a fourth down conversion attempt by USU.

USU started the second half deep in their own end zone, but quickly moved the ball down the field. USU quarterback Chuckie Keaton capped off the Aggies’ drive with a five-yard run into the end zone for a touchdown. The Aggies missed the extra point, giving them a 23-17 lead early in the third quarter.

For much of the third quarter, the Aggies dominated play. WSU’s defense was unable to stop the Aggies’ running game that scored on their first three drives of the second half. Their third touchdown of the quarter came on a 45-yard touchdown pass from Keaton to Matt Austin.

WSU was unable to get their offense going in the second half, with drive after drive resulting in a three-and-out punt. Offensive lineman J.C. Oram said that the repeated three-and-out drives hurt the team.

“What we did the whole second half was three and out, three and out, three and out,” Oram said. “We shouldn’t be doing that (crap).”

In the fourth quarter, the Aggies continued their domination of the Wildcats, seemingly moving the ball down the field at will.

McBride said that USU was the better team and outplayed the Wildcats in every facet of the game.

“I’m disappointed because they out-physicaled us,” McBride said. “They out-toughed us, they out-coached us, the whole thing.”

The Wildcats will look to bounce back next week when they open up conference play on Saturday night against Sacramento State University at Stewart Stadium.

Following the blowout, McBride said he was going to re-evaluate his team and make sure that only players who show that they want to be on the field are playing.

“I’m going to look at the film from this game,” McBride said, “and I’m going to see who really wants to be on this football team, and I’m going to go forward from there. Guys that are not doing what I want them to and playing as hard as I want them to play, then they can’t play.”