OGDEN -- Of all the tributes that were offered to Coach Mac on Saturday for his final home game at Stewart Stadium, the most fitting was a last-minute win by the Wildcats.
Junior quarterback Mike Hoke scored the go-ahead touchdown with 26 seconds remaining as Weber State rallied to beat Northern Arizona, 34-31, the score coach Ron McBride will always be remembered for.
Approximately 175 people gathered three hours before the game to cheer as McBride, who announced last week that he would retire at the end of the season, led a "Mac Walk" into the stadium.
He wore a lei in a snowstorm in a pregame ceremony as Weber State officials played a video tribute and presented him with a jersey, a photo collage, banners signed with well-wishes from the community and other mementos.
McBride coached on crutches on the field, not up in the press box as he believed he might have to after injuring his leg in a sideline collision last week.
Saturday's weather cooperated just the way Mac loves it: cold and gray as rain came down, then snow blanketed Stewart Stadium for the first half.
McBride's players carried him off the field as the Wildcats celebrated the end of their three-game losing streak, a victory for Senior Day and a victory for Mac. That moment gave McBride an occasion to reflect on his career, but he recognized its meaning to this year's Wildcats as well.
"You know how much you love the game, how important it is to you, how important are the guys that play it, how important victories are and how disheartening defeats are," McBride said. "The big thing today was the kids proved they could win a game when their backs are to the wall."
The final game of the year is Saturday at Portland State.
McBride has made a major impact on college football in the state, combining 13 years as the head coach at the University of Utah with seven more seasons at Weber State.
"The years I've spent here (at Weber State) have been awesome because we struggled with a lot of stuff, then we started winning a lot of the struggles," McBride said. "We just kept methodically going through it to get the job done. Having a lot of guys that played for me, coached for me, that type of thing, was huge."
Vicky McBride said she'll remember the relationships she and her husband have developed over the years with players and assistants.
"It's been a wonderful life," Vicky said. "What's been wonderful, and I say it over and over -- all our players are here today, as many as we could possibly get here. We have had so much fun ... over the years, and I still keep in touch with them. I love every one of them, even the ones who were rascals."
Ron's retirement is just the next stage, Vicky said.
"Everything has an end and everything has a beginning. You never know what's going to come up with him. He gets bored very easily. He won't be sitting around. He's not the kind of guy to go on a cruise," she said. "I'd rather not go on a cruise with him anyway because he'd just be whining, 'when do I get to get off the boat?' "