Muñoz throws 5 touchdowns, Weber State football crushes Cal Poly 48-21
At the same time Weber State men’s basketball was defeating Yale in overtime on Saturday night, Weber State football was caught in a first-quarter shootout at Cal Poly in its regular-season finale.
But if a fan switched the live stream to football at the end of the basketball game, all they saw was Weber State dominance.
True freshman QB Richie Muñoz threw five touchdown passes, Weber State scored 41 unanswered points and ultimately crushed Cal Poly with second-half defense on the way to a 48-21 victory in San Luis Obispo.
Weber State outgained Cal Poly 236-43 in the second half.
WSU finishes 6-5 overall and 4-4 in the Big Sky, extending the program’s record with nine straight winning seasons.
“Five weeks ago, we were in a tough bind as a program — where do we take it?” WSU head coach Mickey Mental said. “Credit to the leadership and the coaching staff in this program to keep their head down and keep working. That’s a credit to the culture that has been here and what we’re building.”
Muñoz passed 21 of 27 for 329 yards, five touchdowns and zero interceptions with many family members in attendance for the Covina, California native. That’s the first time in 12 years a WSU quarterback has thrown five touchdown passes in a game (Mike Hoke, 2011) and breaks a 20-game drought between 300-yard passing games (Bronson Barron, Sept. 2022).
Muñoz entered the week having played four games, so sitting him Saturday would have meant preserving a season of eligibility with a redshirt. His performance perhaps validates the decision to play him.
“It’s a big decision,” Mental, also the offensive coordinator, said. “We felt, and he felt, and his family felt like he could take another step … he put it together. I’m really happy for him.”
In his five starts, Muñoz finishes the season throwing 90 of 147 (61.2%) for 1,054 yards, 10 touchdowns and one interception.
Senior linebacker Winston Reid totaled eight tackles, with five solo tackles. That moves him past Danny Rich (1978-81) and Nick Webb (2008-11) with 170 solo tackles, which places him second all-time in solo tackles in WSU program history.
Other seniors: safety Naseme Colvin had five tackles, safety LJ Anderson had two solo tackles, and Maxwell Anderson had a tackle and a pass breakup.
Seniors on offense: Kris Jackson rushed eight times for 40 yards. Haze Hadley caught four passes for 56 yards, and Hayden Meacham had two catches for 19 yards, while offensive linemen Noah Atagi, Ethan Atagi, Jordan Lutui and Andrew Carter played their last game.
But it was underclassmen who made all the big plays Saturday.
Sam Huard started the game 10 of 11 with two touchdown passes as Cal Poly dominated the first-quarter yardage total, finishing scoring drives of 65 and 75 yards on touchdown throws to Michael Otterstedt (22 yards) and Dominque Thompson (45 yards).
Weber State’s first-quarter drives were shorter: a 37-yard kick return from Abraham Williams gave WSU a 45-yard field (converted on a 14-yard touchdown pass to Treyshun Hurry) and a 21-yard punt gave WSU a 40-yard field (converted on a 34-yard touchdown pass to Jacob Sharp).
That left the game 14-14 after one quarter.
Huard’s air dominance stopped there. Weber State’s defense held him to 5 of 21 and picked him off twice from that point and he was pulled in the fourth quarter for two other QBs (finishing 16 of 32 for 199 yards).
With a sudden burst of rain pouring from the skies, Jalon Rock picked off Huard on the first play of the second quarter. Weber State drove to the Mustangs’ 2-yard line, but a false start hindered a touchdown effort. Kyle Thompson put through a 19-yard field goal and WSU took a 17-14 lead.
Weber State ended its next drive with a turnover on downs at the Cal Poly 13 but got the ball back when playmaking linebacker Jack Kelly recorded a strip sack on Huard, with defensive tackle Steven Bryant recovering the fumble.
That was one of six sacks in the game, and WSU racked up 16 sacks over the final three games of the season.
Thompson made another field goal from 41 yards out for a 20-14 lead with 2:37 left in the half, and Cal Poly drove 66 yards to answer before Noah Serna missed a 23-yard field goal — making 20-14 the halftime score.
WSU asserted itself out of the locker room. Muñoz threw 21 yards to Hurry to open the half. A few penalties helped the Wildcats move the ball while WSU also overcame a first-and-25 at the Cal Poly 48 and Muñoz capped the 12-play, 85-yard drive of 6:23 with a 2-yard touchdown run for a 27-14 lead.
The Mustangs (3-8) moved toward midfield where Kelly intercepted Huard and returned it 12 yards to the Cal Poly 45.
Kelly, a sophomore, finishes this season with 12 tackles for loss, 9.5 sacks, four forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, one interception and a tackle for a safety. Reid leaves WSU tied for first all-time with nine career forced fumbles, but Kelly now has five through his two seasons.
“He’s an unbelievable player and we’re really excited about his future here,” Mental said.
A 20-yard pass to Hadley set up the next short drive, which Muñoz finished on a 4-yard slant to Sharp. That made the score 34-14 with 32 seconds left in the third quarter.
Defensive end Brayden Wilson recorded one of his three sacks on the final play of the quarter, setting up a quick three-and-out for Cal Poly.
Quickly cashing in a 46-yard field, Muñoz threw a 24-yard laser up the left sideline to Sharp, who caught it at the 1 and kept his feet for his third receiving touchdown of the game and a 41-14 margin.
Cal Poly’s next possession ended on downs at the Weber 39-yard line. Three plays later, Muñoz went over the top to sophomore Jayleen Record for a 52-yard touchdown pass, putting him at five TDs and over 300 yards, and making the score 48-14.
Record, according to radio color commentator Jerry Graybeal, sprinted to the sideline and delivered the ball to Hadley, who left the game injured on Sharp’s final touchdown.
“They love one another,” Mental said about his team. “That gesture shows you it’s more important than the score. It’s about his teammate playing his final game, and the career Haze Hadley had here was impressive.”
Sharp finished with five catches for 91 yards and three touchdowns. Hurry had four catches for 61 yards and his TD. Cormier rushed nine times for 42 yards.
The game caps Mental’s first season as head coach at Weber State.
“That senior class has won a lot of games and a lot of championships, so that’s not going to be easy to replace. But like I always say, we’re going to enjoy this for 24 hours and get right back to work,” Mental said. “(The three-game win streak) shows when you trust the process, even when the process is bumpy in the road at times, you keep your head down and keep working and great things start happening.”
AROUND THE BIG SKY
No. 3 Montana (10-1, 7-1) shellacked No. 4 Montana State (8-3, 6-2) by a score of 37-7 in front of a record home crowd to win the Big Sky Conference title outright — the first conference title since 2009 for the Griz.
UC Davis (7-4, 5-3) won its rivalry game over No. 8 Sacramento State (7-4, 4-4) by a 31-21 final.
No. 6 Idaho (8-3, 6-2) finished its season with a 63-21 drubbing of Idaho State (3-8, 3-5).
Portland State (5-6, 4-4) rallied to beat Northern Colorado (0-11, 0-8) 27-23.
Northern Arizona (5-6, 5-3) outscored Eastern Washington (4-7, 3-5) 49-42.