Weber State shook off its third-quarter nemesis - namely, self-destruction - to post a 42-7 pasting of Southern Utah State College, Saturday. It was the Wildcats' first win of the season.
The Wildcats exploded for three touchdowns in both the third and fourth quarters after being shutout in the first half by the Thunderbirds."It was important for us to go out and establish something to open the second half," said Weber Coach Dave Arslanian.
And establish they did, using six running plays, including a 47-yard burst by running back Geoff Mitchell, to cover 65 yards and the first Weber score. The kick failed, though, and the Wildcats still found themselves trailing, 7-6.
Minutes later, the Wildcats went on top when quarterback Ryan Schmidt hit wideout Melvin Maxwell on a 44-yard touchdown toss. A two-point conversion made it 14-7 for the Wildcats, and for the Thunderbirds, it was the beginning of the end.
Mitchell scored on a 3-yard run to end the third quarter on a 20-7 Weber State lead when the kick failed.
"We weren't making mistakes and we were executing much better," Arslanian said. "I think we were more poised and there was no frustration."
There was no question that it was an offensive showing for the Wildcats, who racked up 580 yards in total offense, an impressive 316 yards on the ground.
But it was key defensive plays that put the Wildcats in control. Weber picked off four passes and recovered a fumble to set up three of the six scoring drives.
The Wildcats gave up only one turnover, a first half pass interception that Southern Utah State turned into a Kelvin Minifee touchdown on a three-yard run for their only score.
Weber added three scoring drives in the fourth quarter, including a 39-yard scoring toss from backup quarterback Rich Erickson to Maxwell with 1:03 remaining. The toss prompted an angry response from SUSC Coach Jack Bishop, who accused Weber of running up the score.
Arslanian apologized for the play following the game. He said the play was intended as a toss into the flat on a second and 11 situation. "It was supposed to be a safe play," Arslanian said. "Rich saw the man over the top and he just threw the ball like he's been taught over and over."
"I feel bad about the play and Rich feels bad also; I wish it hadn't happened," Arslanian said.
Weber's other scores came on runs of 22 yards and 12 yards by George Jackson.
Jackson and Mitchell were devastating, racking up 174 yards and 140 yards, respectively. Schmidt complemented the running attack nicely with 14 completions in 23 attempts for 195 yards. Backup quarterbacks Jamie Martin and Erickson hit on three of five tosses for 69 yards to bring the passing total to 264 yards on the day.
SUSC's effort was not as bad as the score would indicate. The Thunderbirds drove inside the Wildcat 40 on three occasions, reaching the 10-yard line on the game's opening drive, only to come away empty-handed after giving up interceptions each time. On the day, the Thunderbirds racked up 126 yards rushing (a quiet 71 yards from Minifee) and an even 200 through the air.