Weber State’s loss to Sac State was a true matter of inches

Oct 14 2012 - 7:46pm

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A perfect punt, a punt that never happened and a penalty combined to keep Weber State on the losing side of the ledger Saturday against Sacramento State.

A few inches either way may have been the difference between the Wildcats finally earning their first win of the season and the Hornets getting off to their best start since 1991 with a 19-14 victory.

In the third quarter of a game tied at 7-7, Sac State punter Mason Magleby perfectly executed a roll-out rugby-style punt that rolled 52 yards before it was downed practically on Weber State's own goal line, a few inches short of being a touchback.

Four plays later, a deep snap that was a few inches off in its initial trajectory went wildly off target and out of the end zone for a safety against the Wildcats.

After Sacramento State stole the lead with the two free points, DeAndre Carter's 66-yard kick return to the Wildcats' 12-yard line put the Hornets in position to coast to victory.

It didn't happen.

Weber State's defense forced Sac State to kick a 22-yard field goal by Edgar Castaneda and kept the Wildcats within striking distance of the favored Hornets on the road.

WSU's defense held Sac State to 310 yards, a season-low for an WSU opponent, and forced consecutive turnovers in the third quarter, but the 'Cats couldn't convert on their chances.

"We kept it really simple for them," said Weber State interim coach Jody Sears, who also serves as defensive coordinator. "Shoot, we made about three calls all night and that was about it. We kept it real simple for them, let them play fast and they went and executed the things we talked about -- forcing the football, getting them on the run. (Sac State) made a couple of plays in the passing game and that really ended up being the difference."

Linebacker Anthony Morales led the Wildcats with 10 tackles, followed by nine by Chris Wheeler and eight for Willie Okwuonu, and all three were credited with forced fumbles, two of which were recovered by the Wildcats in the second half.

"Our defense came out with a lot of energy and attitude and we were able to execute with that energy. It showed up on the field," defensive lineman Connor Myers said.

After the five-point swing in Sacramento State's favor from the safety and the field goal, the Hornets scored the game-clinching touchdown on a 25-yard pass from quarterback Garrett Safron to T.J. Knowles with 7:12 left in the fourth quarter.

Weber State's offense woke up on its following possession, putting together an 11-play, 75-yard drive sparked by a 27-yard completion from Mike Hoke to Erik Walker.

Walker capped the drive with a 17-yard touchdown catch on fourth down to pull the Wildcats within a score at 19-14 with just under four minutes to go, but Sac State picked up two first downs as WSU ran out of time in its best opportunity of the season to get a win.

Weber State finished with season lows in total offense (237 yards) and passing yards (135).

With four games to go in the season and no wins, Myers said the Wildcats will keep trying.

"We're still fine, we've just got to look this adversity in the face and keep grinding every day, just keep coming to work. We made a lot of progress on defense, especially this game. I thought we came out and played really well, so we'll keep building on that."

Heads up

The other turning point in Sac State's win on Saturday came late in the first half, when a Weber State sack of Safron on third-and-11 was negated by a penalty against redshirt freshman linebacker Obi Owoh for continuing to participate in the play after his helmet came off.

Calling the penalty was a no-brainer for the officials, who have been emphasizing new NCAA rules to protect player safety this year.

Fortunately for the Wildcats, Owoh wasn't injured on the play. Unfortunately for the Wildcats, Sac State took advantage of its second chance, picked up first downs on its next two plays and a touchdown on its last of the half to even the game, erasing what would have been Weber State's first halftime lead of the season.

Roy Burton covers Weber State sports for the Standard-Examiner. Follow @RoyBurton on Twitter, read more about the Wildcats at blogs.standard.net/wsu-sports-blog or reach him at rburton@standard.net.

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