OGDEN -- Weber State finally played a competitive first half.
No. 20 Cal Poly took control from there.
The undefeated Mustangs rode a strong second-half surge to a 45-23 victory over the winless Wildcats on Friday at Stewart Stadium.
Weber State (0-6, 0-3 Big Sky) got one monkey off its back by scoring its first first-quarter points of the season on its first drive of the game, but the Wildcats couldn't keep Cal Poly (4-0, 3-0) from running wild with 24 straight points after WSU took a 20-14 lead. Senior running back C.J. Tuckett scored on a six-yard run with 10:08 left in the third quarter, but the Mustangs outscored the 'Cats 31-3 the rest of the way.
Weber State lost its sixth straight game despite racking up a season-high 528 yards of total offense compared to 345 for Cal Poly's triple option attack. The Wildcats also stayed on even ground in the ground game with the Mustangs, who entered the game as the third-best rushing team in the country.
WSU ran for 237 yards, almost matching Cal Poly's 246, and notched season-highs in nearly every offensive category, but the scoreboard reflected a different reality.
"Stats are stats," Weber State interim coach Jody Sears said. "Stats are kind of like feelings. There are no feelings in football. Stats are great, but what's the score? That's where the truth lies."
The loss came with another cost for Weber State as safety/punter Tony Epperson tore his right MCL and will be out for four to six weeks. Epperson, who entered the game as the nation's leading punter and as one of Weber State's top tacklers, went down in the third quarter and may be done for the year.
In third quarter, Cal Poly retook the lead on a 5-yard scoring run by Kriistan Ivory. Then 6-foot-2, 275 pound defensive lineman Barrett Wangara tilted the momentum completely in the Mustangs' favor by snagging a pass nearly out of the hand of Weber State quarterback Mike Hoke and rumbling untouched for a 58-yard touchdown late in the third quarter.
Hoke was hit by Jake Irwin as he tried to get rid of the ball, and Wangara caught the ball just a couple of yards away before scooting down the sideline to give Cal Poly a lead it would keep adding to.
"It was just lack of execution (in the second half)," Hoke said. "We turned the ball over right there (on the interception) and that's a free seven points for them. That really hurt us."
Hoke completed 22 of 39 passes for 291 yards and one touchdown.
Tuckett became the 27th Weber State player to rush for 1,000 yards in a career, running for 98 yards on 19 carries with one touchdown Friday.
After a season of first-half struggles, the Wildcats were still in the game in the second half.
"That turnover killed us," Sears said. "That turnover killed us, that's the most glaring thing. You get a turnover and a score out of it; that's almost a double possession. I've seen a lot of great offenses gain a lot of yards -- at the end of the day (our total offense) should have been about 700, at least 600. We've got to make a few more plays."
Linebacker Anthony Morales had a career-high 17 tackles.
Safety Willie Okwuonu and wide receiver Jarret Gooden did not play Friday due to a violation of team rules.
Cal Poly quarterback Andre Broadus, a cousin to Calvin Broadus, the rapper now called Snoop Lion and formerly known as Snoop Dogg, completed just 6 of 11 passes for 99 yards but threw for three touchdowns.
Ivory rushed for 89 yards and one touchdown and grabbed another scoring pass, while Brandon Howe and Willie Tucker each came down with a touchdown pass from Broadus.
Shaun McClain kicked field goals of 22 and 46 yards in the first quarter -- the second a career-long -- as Weber State took a 6-0 lead, its first lead of the season.
With momentum on its side, WSU rolled the dice on a fake punt from its own 29-yard line early in the second quarter. Epperson's deep pass was on the mark but dropped and the Mustangs quickly took advantage of the short field, scoring on a 30-yard pass from Broadus to Ivory to take the 7-6 lead.
Erik Walker found the end zone on a 9-yard pass from Hoke as the 'Cats and Mustangs traded scores in the second quarter, but McClain's 50-yard field goal try at the end of the half missed and Cal Poly held a 14-13 advantage at the break.
Weber State goes on the road for the next two weeks, travelling to Sacramento State next Saturday and facing Southern Utah in Cedar City the following week.
Cal Poly 45,
Weber State 23
At Stewart Stadium
Cal Poly 0 14 17 14 -- 45
Weber St. 6 7 7 3 -- 23
Weber State--McClain 22 field goal, 8:26.
Weber State--McClain 46 field goal, 2:53.
Cal Poly--Ivory 30 pass from Broadous (Zalud kick), 11:06.
Weber State--Walker 9 pass from Hoke (McClain kick), 7:09.
Cal Poly--Howe 8 pass from Broadous (Zalud kick), 3:06.
Weber State--Tuckett 6 run (McClain kick), 10:08.
Cal Poly--Ivory 5 run (Zalud kick), 5:52.
Cal Poly--Wangara 58 interception return (Zalud kick), 3:23.
Cal Poly--Zalud 44 field goal, :40.
Cal Poly--Tucker 34 pass from Broadous (Zalud kick), 14:25.
Weber State--McClain 25 field goal, 8:04.
Cal Poly--Howe 37 run (Zalud kick), 7:28.
Cal Poly Weber State
First downs 18 29
Rushes-yards 40-246 55-237
Passing 99 291
Comp-Att-Int 6-11-0 22-40-1
Return Yards 85 3
Punts-Avg. 3-44.0 2-41.0
Fumbles-Lost 0-0 0-0
Penalties-Yards 5-29 5-62
Time of Possession 21:10 38:50
Rushing--Cal Poly, Ivory 10-89, Howe 9-78, Moraga 2-39, D.Williams 6-31, Meszaros 1-5, Broadous 8-4, Rulon 1-3, Team 2-0, Stanford 1-(minus 3). Weber St., Tuckett 19-98, Parham 13-53, Hoke 16-51, Booker 7-35.
Passing--Cal Poly, Broadous 6-11-0-99. Weber St., Hoke 22-39-1-291, Epperson 0-1-0-0.
Receiving--Cal Poly, Howe 3-23, Tucker 1-34, Ivory 1-30, Castaneda 1-12. Weber St., Tuckett 7-56, Walker 4-41, Papanikolas 3-60, Fowler 3-34, Clemente 2-41, Sorenson 2-13, X.Johnson 1-46.