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WEBER STATE COMES CLOSE BUT FADES IN FINAL MINUTES

SHARE WEBER STATE COMES CLOSE BUT FADES IN FINAL MINUTES

Weber State finally had some big plays and converted some major third downs, but when it came to the two critical drives in the last six minutes, Montana State made the plays to win.

The Wildcats fell to 1-7 for the season a 0-6 in Big Sky Conference football Saturday afternoon as the Bobcats walked off with a 31-27 victory in a game Weber once led 19-7.The Wildcats, in fact, were up 27-24 with 12:06 to play, after overtaking the Bobcats, who'd led 24-19, with 35-yard scoring pass from Ryan Schmidt to Rob Trebilcock and a conversion pass from Schmidt to Geoff Mitchell.

But again, the big plays were made by the other team.

"That's been our downfall," said Weber Coach Dave Arslanian. "We're hanging close, but there comes a time when you've got to have someone step up and make the big play, and we're just lacking that now."

Arslanian assumes that's because few of his players have had enough experience making the big play to know how to have the confidence necessary.

"You need that extra spark that comes from having had success," he said.

Montana State, loser of its last four games, put together an 80-yard drive on the following possession. Using up 6 1/2 minutes with a 15-play drive, 14 of them on the ground, the Bobcats converted third-down plays three times, and freshman tailback Si Ryan made it pay with a 4-yard touchdown run to win the game. Jay Judy's kick put the final point on the board.

Weber still had 5 1/2 minutes left, and drove to the Montana State 11-yard line, but the Bobcats twice made blitzes work.

Defensive end Jason Hakert sacked Schmidt for a 3-yard loss, and linebacker Todd Graves sacked Schmidt back to the MS 23 to bring up a fourth-and-18 situation. Schmidt, hit as he was releasing, overthrew Peter Macon at the 4.

Arslanian said he can't blame anyone for the sacks until he sees the films to find out if the receivers were covered. If they were, "That's one for Montana State," because the Bobcats would have identified the right receiver and covered him while blitzing.

Weber did improve in some ways. Freshman receiver Melvin Maxwell caught a 54-yard pass to set up Weber's first touchdown, and freshman Trevor Shaw and Nathan Burchette made some major catches.

Also, Schmidt hit sophomore Dave Hall with a 16-yard TD pass on a third-and-9 situation, Bruce Covernton recovered a Montana State fumble on the Wildcat 4-yard line and Weber converted seven of its 13 third-down plays, an improvement from last week. But Montana State was 14-20 on third down.

Weber State threatened to score again late in the final period, but MSU lineman Jason Hakert and linebacker Mark D'Agostino sacked Schmidt twice after the WSC quarterback had moved his team to the Montana State 11-yard line.

Montana State took possession on its own 22-yard line with 1:58 remaining after an incomplete pass on fourth down.

Although the Wildcats moved the ball in the air throughout the game, they were ineffective on the ground, gaining only 85 yards on 31 carries.

Tetrault threw just nine passes, completing five, but added 106 rushing yards on 21 carries. He was sacked three times. Fullback Bob Wilkinson also had 63 yards on the ground for the Bobcats, who piled up 315 rushing yards on 77 carries.

D'Agostino and Jon Skelton combined for 25 tackles, and D'Agostino also picked off a Schmidt pass in the first period.