OGDEN — Coming into the concluding spring scrimmage on Saturday at Stewart Stadium, Weber State sophomore running back Zach Hall was listed as questionable and probably shouldn't have played due to hamstring problems. He suited up anyway.
It's safe to say he was glad he did.
Besides getting some extra reps, he had 90 yards on seven carries, including a 70-yard touchdown run, in the 90-minute scrimmage that matched the Wildcats' offense against the defense.
"I just had to go out and do it," Hall said. "If I re-injured it, I had the summer to let it heal."
The 70-yard run came on a counter play right up the middle. Hall took the ball, broke an arm-tackle and out-raced defenders to the end zone. But an unusual thing happened on the way to the goal line. The back-pedaling official tripped backward, and Hall said he almost fell over laughing.
"I was getting tired, and then I saw the ref fall. I tried not to laugh. I was just glad I made it," Hall said.
Besides scoring on Hall's touchdown, the offense also produced two Joe Johnson field goals and touchdown passes by quarterbacks Kyle Bauer and Jeff Fowler. Hall and fellow running back Willie Henry combined for the bulk of the 107 yards rushing, and the quarterbacks threw for a total of 209 yards and two scores. Individually, Bauer, who started some games last season, was 6-of-12 for 105 yards with a TD pass to receiver Chris McConnell. Jeff Fowler's TD pass was a 5-yarder to tight end Drew Dukeshire. WSU coach Jerry Graybeal was pleased with the offensive effort.
"I thought the offense played well," Graybeal said. "Hall and Henry each had their best scrimmage. Our receivers stretched out to make some good catches and the quarterbacks showed some poise."
In spite of the satisfactory offensive performances by quarterbacks Bauer, Ian Pizarro and Jeff Fowler, Graybeal is not going to name a starter just yet. When asked if he was ready to make the decision, Graybeal said, "I will, in August."
The Wildcats completed their spring practices without all-American running back candidate Nick Chournos, who missed the scrimmage with ankle and hamstring injuries. That allowed more reps for backups Hall and Henry.
"We know what Nick can do, so we didn't need to risk any further injury," Graybeal said. "(His absence) gave his backups some much-needed reps and let us see what they can do in a game situation."
Defensively, Wildcat defenders posted six quarterback sacks, five pass deflections and cornerback Curlee Dorn recorded an interception. Graybeal was also content with the defense.
"Overall, I was generally pleased with how the defense played," Graybeal said.
The team will now finish the school year and report to campus in August. The Wildcats open the 2004 season on Sept. 4 at home with Southern Utah.