OGDEN -- Sixty-four seconds in the second quarter put the Wildcats in a hole they couldn't climb out of.
What started out as a promising opportunity for Weber State to open Big Sky Conference play with a Homecoming win disappeared as Sacramento State took control by scoring twice in the final 1:04 in the first half and didn't let go.
Garrett Safron threw four touchdown passes, three to DeAndre Carter, as the Hornets defeated Weber State 31-3 in front of 6,610 fans on Saturday at Stewart Stadium.
Safron completed 25 of 31 passes for 281 yards and one interception, while Carter made eight grabs for 148 yards. The Hornets, whose only previous win was an overtime victory against an NAIA school, won the official Big Sky opener for both teams.
Weber State coach Jody Sears took responsibility.
"What we've got to understand is taking care of the little detail things. That is coaching. That is our responsibility," he said.
Seeing the Hornets score two quick touchdowns to take a 14-0 halftime lead was "A little bit deflating," he said. "The guys in the locker room were good. The defense was good; offensively, there was some good talk in there. But it goes back to our execution and the consistency of all that. We've got to take care of the ball. We've got to."
Weber State fumbled the ball four times, three times in the first half. while suffering its worst home loss in nine years.
Sacramento State (2-3) also won, in its ninth attempt, for the first time in Ogden. WSU (1-4) lost its fourth straight game.
"We came out, we made some big plays, the offense was clicking, the defense was fighting their tails off and just a few things happened at the end (of the half)," true freshman quarterback Austin Chipoletti said. "We went into halftime, heads were up coming out. We knew we made mistakes, we thought we were going to fix them. We just came out and it just kind (of had) a snowball effect on us. Things didn't quite get worked out like we wanted it to."
The defeat may prove costly beyond the loss column.
Senior linebacker and captain Anthony Morales, who last week moved into WSU's top 10 career tackles list, left the game in the second quarter with an injured left hamstring and didn't return.
Sac State also had several injuries, including leading rusher Ezekiel Graham.
Junior transfer Deon'tae Florence's two interceptions were the high point in what was the Wildcats' best defensive performance of the season.
Weber State, which was allowing an average of 55.8 points per game coming into Saturday, was locked in a scoreless tie until the final 64 seconds of the first half with a team whose opponents were averaging 39.8 ppg.
That's when the 'Cats kicked the Hornets' nest.
After a WSU punt gave Sacramento State a short field, Safron connected with Carter on a 15-yard pass to snap the shutout with 1:04 remaining in the half.
The Wildcats couldn't get a first down to run out the clock and it cost them when punter Tony Epperson rolled out for a rugby style punt and tried to kick it away as he was being tackled. The shanked punt floated just a few yards, right into the hands of a Sac State defender. It was officially listed as a negative-6-yard punt, setting Safron and Carter up for another 15-yard touchdown connection with 13 seconds left.
The half wasn't over.
It got even crazier when Sac State's squib kick bounced backwards, right into the Hornets' hands again.
After Safron completed one pass, Jesse Aguilar lined up to try a 39-yard field goal as time expired. Luck, or maybe just statistics, were finally on WSU's side as Aguilar missed to keep it at a 14-0 lead -- Sac State is 1 for 7 on field goal attempts this year after finally making its first one in the third quarter.
Weber State also kicked its first field goal of the season, though the Wildcats had not yet attempted one.
Bonneville High product Carson Fackrell's 42-yard field goal on the first series of the third quarter accounted for Weber State's only points in its lowest output in a Big Sky game in 10 seasons.
Bo Bolen led Weber State with 66 yards rushing. Erik Walker had five catches for 62 yards as Weber State's two quarterbacks combined for 91 yards passing.
Chipoletti completed 10 of 18 passes for 87 yards and senior Jordan Adamczyk completed 3 of 4 passes for four yards.
Chipoletti found Walker for 35 yards early in the second quarter to give the Wildcats their first opportunity of the night in Sac State territory, but they lost the momentum immediately when Chipoletti fumbled it.
Bolen's 41-yard run later in the quarter gave its best chance to that point, but another fumble, this time by Zach Smith, erased WSU's only red zone scoring opportunity.
Contact sports writer Roy Burton at 801-625-4260, firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @RoyBurtonSE.
Sacramento State 31,
Weber State 3
At Stewart Stadium
Sacramento St. 0 14 17 0--31
Weber St. 0 0 3 0-- 3
Sac St.--Carter 15 pass from Safron (Aguilar kick), 1:04.
Sac St.--Carter 15 pass from Safron (Aguilar kick), :13.
Sac St.--Broadnax 16 pass from Safron (Aguilar kick), 11:54.
Weber St.--Fackrell 42 field goal, 6:50.
Sac St.--Carter 51 pass from Safron (Aguilar kick), 4:51.
Sac St.--Aguilar 20 field goal, 2:42.
First downs 19 13
Rushes-yards 34-91 43-143
Passing 291 91
Comp-Att-Int 27-35-2 14-23-0
Return yards 18 38
Punts-avg. 7-51.4 9-37.3
Fumbles-lost 1-0 4-4
Penalties-yards 4-30 4-25
Time of possession 32:31 27:29
Rushing--Sacramento St., Warren 7-36, Safron 12-27, Graham 10-19, Carter 3-9, Team 2-0. Weber St., Bolen 8-66, Zac.Smith 9-39, Chipoletti 12-33, Booker 9-24, C.Dixon 1-12, Livingston 1-0, Adamczyk 3-(minus 31).
Passing--Sacramento St., Safron 25-32-2-288, Vercher 2-3-0-3. Weber St., Chipoletti 10-18-0-87, Adamczyk 3-4-0-3, Zac.Smith 1-1-0-1.
Receiving--Sacramento St., Norrise 9-60, Carter 8-148, Maciel 3-19, Broadnax 2-18, Graham 2-3, Hikutini 1-24, Agude 1-13, B.Robertson 1-6. Weber St., Walker 5-62, Booker 3-9, Livingston 2-4, Bolen 2-1, Raymond 1-14, Chipoletti 1-1.