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Weber State football stifles Cal Poly in 38-7 road victory

By Brett Hein - | Oct 2, 2021

Robert Casey, Weber State Athletics

Weber State running back Josh Davis (20) rushes the football against Cal Poly on Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021, in San Luis Obispo, Cali. Davis moved in to third place on WSU's all-time career rushing yards list during the game.

The only drama, scoreboard-wise, in Weber State football’s road trip to Cal Poly came after a WSU turnover gave the Mustangs a really short field.

Otherwise, No. 19 Weber State took care of business on the way to a 38-7 win Saturday night, holding Cal Poly to 84 yards of offense until six run plays that ran out the clock to end the game.

WSU head coach Jay Hill totaled win No. 54 in his career, becoming the winningest coach in program history, and running back Josh Davis increased his career rushing total to 3,104 yards, moving into third place all-time.

“There for a long time, when it got up to 35-7, I thought it was a great combination of offense, defense, special teams, everybody making plays,” Hill said.

Sophomore quarterback Kylan Weisser turned in an efficient, turnover-free performance for Weber State, throwing 11 of 16 for 143 for two touchdowns, and rushing eight times for 27 yards and two more touchdowns.

Robert Casey, Weber State Athletics

Weber State defensive end George Tarlas (44) helps bring down a Cal Poly ball-carrier during a Big Sky football game Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021, in San Luis Obispo, Cali.

Unfortunately, Weisser injured his right ankle on a read-option run midway through the third quarter with his team already up by four touchdowns. Weisser was seen on crutches and with his foot in a boot during the fourth quarter.

Fortunately for WSU, Hill says Bronson Barron, the team’s starting quarterback who got knocked out of action with a knee injury in Week 2, should return to action in the Wildcats’ next game, which comes on Friday, Oct. 15, when WSU hosts Montana State after a bye week.

Weber State got out of the gates quickly, taking the opening kickoff and marching 79 yards in 5:09. Davis picked up a key third-and-1, setting up Weisser to connect with Jon Christensen on a 23-yard strike to the Cal Poly 2.

Two plays later, Weisser kept a read-option that fooled the Mustangs, who keyed completely on running back Kris Jackson, and Weisser scored untouched for a 7-0 lead.

On WSU’s next possession, Justin Malone fumbled after a third-down reception to give Cal Poly a 25-yard field.

Robert Casey, Weber State Athletics

Weber State quarterback Kylan Weisser, left, jumps to celebrate with an offensive lineman after a rushing touchdown against Cal Poly on Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021, in San Luis Obispo, Cali.

The Wildcat defense later blew up a fourth-and-1 run play from the WSU 2 and appeared to shut down the drive, but a WSU player lined up offside and Sam Stewart punched in a 1-yard touchdown run to make it 7-7 late in the first quarter.

Just before quarter’s end, Weisser hit Rashid Shaheed for a 50-yard strike down to the Cal Poly 15. It was Shaheed’s only reception of the night as 14 total pass completions went to 12 different receivers. Randal Grimes (two catches, 38 yards) and Clay Moss (two for 8 yards) were the only receivers to catch more than one pass.

Three plays after the start of the second quarter, Weisser followed Moss into the end zone on a 4-yard power run for a 14-7 lead.

Weber State’s defense held Cal Poly to two consecutive three-and-outs and, on the second, Shaheed returned a punt 31 yards to midfield. Shaheed returned four punts for 55 yards, delivering positive field position each time he fielded one.

Weisser threw a 15-yard completion to Hudson Schenck and, on a first down from the Cal Poly 18, threw a swing pass to senior back Dave Jones who navigated his way all the way to the end zone for a touchdown and a 21-7 lead with 8:19 left in the first half.

Robert Casey, Weber State Athletics

Weber State receiver Rashid Shaheed, left, tries to fight out of a tackle against Cal Poly's Trevor Owens (13) on Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021, in San Luis Obispo, Cali.

In the final minute, a punted touchback gave the ball to Cal Poly. After quarterback Jackson Pavitt completed an 11-yard pass, he took major pressure on the next play and found himself in the grasp of WSU linebacker Winston Reid.

As Reid spun Pavitt to the turf near the Cal Poly 20, Pavitt tried to throw the ball away but instead threw the ball 10 yards behind him. The ball bounced around in the ensuing pursuit from both teams until Weber linebacker BJ Taufalele found sure hands at the 2-yard line, picked it up and took a step into the end zone for a 28-7 halftime lead.

“I liked the way we finished the first half and the way we started the second half. I thought that was outstanding, just that burst of energy,” Hill said.

Brothers Jared Schiess and Doug Schiess shared a sack to open the second half — Doug Schiess finished with 1.5 sacks on the night — to force another Mustangs three-and-out. Weber State finished with seven sacks.

“Tonight we didn’t have Sione Lapuaho and Kalisi Moli, who are two of our most dynamic, best players … and all that happened was George Tarlas stepped up, Jared Schiess played lights out, and Doug Schiess plays lights out, we get Jayden Palauni back making more plays for us, Zeke Birch gets valuable reps,” Hill said.

A 15-yard Shaheed punt return set up a 40-yard field. Weisser rushed 17 yards to get within striking distance and Ty MacPherson drew a pass interference on an ensuing third down. Three plays later, Weisser found MacPherson on a rollout and threw a strike to the back of the end zone for a 5-yard TD throw and a 35-7 lead.

WSU’s next possession saw Weisser crumple after slipping on the turf while running to the left on a read-option keeper. The non-contact injury put junior Randall Johnson in action. Johnson missed a throw to Randal Grimes on the next play, a third down, then took a sack on third down of his next series, which ended Johnson’s night.

Freshman signal-caller Creyton Cooper took over for WSU’s two fourth-quarter possessions. The first ended in three plays after a Dontae McMillan fumble, but the second went 15 plays and 64 yards over 7:24 of game clock.

Cooper was 2 of 4 passing for 40 yards, including a 30-yard, back-shoulder strike to Grimes after escaping a blitz and scrambling for time. He also ran five times for 32 yards, finishing third behind Davis (11 carries, 57 yards) and McMillan (12 for 49) in WSU’s rushing attack.

Cooper navigated WSU to the Cal Poly 3 before Jordan Lutui was flagged for a personal foul after a second-and-goal play. Kyle Thompson, who previously hit a 25-yard field goal, missed a 29-yarder to end Weber’s final possession.

Pavitt finished 13 of 30 for 84 yards, which comprised Cal Poly’s entire offense entering its last possession. The Mustangs finished with 31 rushing yards, every one of them coming on the team’s final six carries of the game that took the clock to zeroes.

“I’m never going to be that guy to just keep your starters in and keep running up the score. We got so many guys valuable reps in that last quarter-and-a-half. So that was critical,” Hill said.

WSU outgained Cal Poly 364-115. Yardage was 265-40 following the drive that put WSU up 35-7.

Jared and Doug Schiess joined Conner Mortensen, Sherwin Lavaka and McKade Mitton in leading the Weber defense with five tackles. Birch, the redshirt freshman defensive lineman, totaled four tackles and one sack. Aaron Sessions, Marque Collins and Preston Smith each had two pass breakups. Collins had an interception erased by an offside penalty; WSU lost the penalty battle with eight flags for 60 yards.

“So there’s still plenty of stuff to clean up but very, very proud of some of the backup guys stepping into some critical roles,” Hill said.

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