Wildcats fall to Arizona State, 45-14, still show hustle
Friday , August 29, 2014 - 11:47 AM
TEMPE, ARIZ. -- The football season for the Weber State officially kicked off with a 45-14 loss to the nationally ranked Arizona State Sun Devils.
“We expect to win every time we play,” said Weber State linebacker Luke King. “They’re a good team. We just have to learn from it. Go back and watch film. We have a game next week so we have to get ready for that.”
After a slow start, ASU got the ball rolling and never looked back in the first half.
Weber came knocking on ASU’s door at the top of the second quarter to cut into the 17-point lead, but couldn’t convert the 4th and goal with half a yard to go. To make matters worse, the Sun Devils scored a touchdown on the very next drive -- 99 yards in 9 plays in just over two minutes of game time.
“That was huge,” said Weber State head coach Jay Hill of the momentum swing. “It just deflates you. The one I struggle with even more than that is where they got a hand on our punt. If you give up a punt block, more than likely you’re going to lose that game.”
In the first half, Weber only had 119 yards of total offense, compared to ASU’s 339 yards. At the end of that game, ASU had 507 total yards of offense, whereas Weber had just 308.
The strong duo of Arizona State quarterback Taylor Kelly and wide receiver Jaelen Strong was simply too much for Weber to handle. Strong had 10 receptions totaling for 146 yards, and Kelly threw 18 of 27 for 237 yards, and neither played for most of the second half.
The momentum stayed with the Sun Devils as they closed the half by a score of 31-0.
To start the third quarter, ASU scored another touchdown to add to the deficit, building their lead to 38.
Weber would finally get on the board with a 65 yard drive topped off with a 19-yard pass from Billy Green to Shaydon Kehano in the right corner to make the score 7-38.
Despite the large deficit, the Wildcats continued to make plays and show hustle, and hold ASU from making too much more damage, albeit against the Sun Devil’s second-string lineup.
Kehano returned a punt and was forced to the far left sideline, and instead of letting himself be forced out of bounds, the senior make an aggressive cut inside, and did his best to keep his balance and tip-toe his way quickly up the sideline.
The hustle later paid off with another touchdown, as Billy Green looked as if he was going to throw the ball, and then quickly handed it off to Zach Smith, who ran it to the end zone for a 60-yard touchdown to make the score 45-14.
“We’re a different team now,” said Smith. “Coach Hill and all the other coaches harp on never giving up no matter what the score is, no matter what the outcome of the game is.”
King shared the same feeling about the new coaching staff.
“It’s definitely the coaching staff that came in -- that’s what they implement every day,” said King. “If you get hit in mouth, you just keep bringing it no matter what.”
Coach Hill recognized the effort given by his team.
“I was proud of our guys for not giving in,” said Hill. “I was proud of the way they finished that game.”
One issue throughout the game was tackling as the ’Cats couldn’t seem to keep their hands on the ASU ball carriers.
“Defensively, we got to work on tackling,” said King. “Also, little things here and there -- just technique things -- but mainly tackling.”
The Wildcats will now look to take on one of the best in the FCS in North Dakota State in their home opener Saturday, Sept. 6 with the kickoff at 6 p.m. in Stewart Stadium on the campus of Weber State.
Contact sports reporter Brandon Garside at firstname.lastname@example.org, on Twitter @BGarsideSE, or on Facebook.com/BrandonGarsideSE
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