OGDEN — The sun finally came out at a snowy Stewart Stadium on Saturday, but the clouds hanging over the Wildcats’ season remain.
Seth Lobato threw four touchdown passes to lead Northern Colorado to a 42-34 victory over Weber State, the Bears’ first-ever win over the Wildcats in seven tries.
Dominic Gunn caught six passes for 160 yards and a touchdown while Lobato gunned the ball all over the field, completing 24 of 38 passes for 418 yards — the third most passing yards in school history, 12 shy of his career high and 18 short of the record.
Weber State fell to 1-9, 1-6 in the Big Sky, and went winless at home for the second time in school history despite scoring a season-high 34 points.
Wildcats interim coach and defensive coordinator Jody Sears said the Bears threw some unexpected wrinkles at the WSU secondary. The Bears had shown some play-action, high-percentage short passes on the scouting film, he said, but they hadn’t gone downfield with it in previous games.
“The play-action downtown stuff, they were eggbeaters. You’ve got to tip your hat to them, they had us dialed up, but we didn’t play very disciplined,” Sears said.
Lobato began to dissect the Wildcats’ secondary in the second quarter, throwing three touchdown passes, the last after Northern Colorado stopped Weber State on fourth and one at midfield. Three plays later, with help from a personal foul penalty against the ’Cats, McDonald was in the end zone with a 13-yard touchdown pass from Lobato to give the Bears a 22-17 lead going to the locker room.
Darin McDonald caught seven passes for 118 yards and two scores and Tromaine Dennis rushed 23 times for 116 yards and a touchdown while Northern Colorado (4-6, 3-4 Big Sky) racked up 540 yards of total offense.
“Our defense didn’t play good enough,” Sears said. “There’s no excuses. … That’s my responsibility, that’s the coaches’ responsibility. That falls on our shoulders. That will be corrected.”
After the Wildcats honored 14 seniors on Senior Day before the game, senior quarterback Mike Hoke completed 24 of 46 passes for a season-best 310 yards and four touchdowns with one interception.
“It doesn’t really matter, if we had like 100 yards total offense, as long as we win,” Hoke said. “We lost, so pretty much all of the stats are irrelevant already. We had a couple of series where we felt like our offense was what we are capable of being, but we weren’t consistent enough.”
Senior running back C.J. Tuckett rushed for a team-high 87 yards on 17 carries but was disappointed to lose in his final home game.
“It’s definitely a learning experience. It’s a lot of fun to play for Weber State,” he said. “It’s been a disappointing year for our home games. We showed up a few games, but it takes all 11 guys. It doesn’t matter how good of players you have or what stats you have (if you don’t win on) the scoreboard. If all 11 guys don’t do their job, you can’t win. That’s one thing we need to focus on more.”
Weber State scored on its opening drive, notching its first touchdown in a first quarter this season as Hoke found sophomore receiver Xavian Johnson in the corner of the end zone for a 26-yard scoring strike.
Johnson led the Wildcats with 91 yards receiving and a touchdown, but left the game with an injured shoulder in the second quarter after hauling in a 53-yard pass that set up a 22-yard touchdown pass from Hoke to Erik Walker. Walker had three catches for 75 yards and Lanny Papanikolas had 71 yards receiving.
Senior tight end Brian Jankowski grabbed his first touchdown pass of the season in the fourth quarter and junior receiver Jordan Clemente hauled in one more consolation TD with 6.5 seconds remaining, but the Wildcats couldn’t put up the points as fast as Northern Colorado.
Weber State ends its season next Saturday with a road game against rival Idaho State.