OGDEN — Weber State’s defense admirably slowed down Cal Poly’s option game last week, but No. 22 South Dakota’s spread passing attack was supposed to be an entirely different animal.

The No. 11 Wildcats stifled the Coyotes at every turn, sacking Austin Simmons eight times, forcing three turnovers and allowing less than 200 yards before a garbage-time scoring drive in a decisive 27-10 victory Saturday at Stewart Stadium.

The game gives the Wildcats (2-1) momentum headed into conference play and a possible boost in playoff selection come November.

“They proved it in the first two weeks ... that’s a good football team we just beat,” WSU head coach Jay Hill said.

The Coyotes (1-2), who qualified for the FCS Playoffs last season, nearly beat Kansas State before scoring 43 points and totaling 635 yards in a win over Northern Colorado. WSU held USD to 238 yards, 75 of which came in the game’s final possession against Weber’s second-team defense.

Weber State’s defense hassled the visitors from start to finish, far surpassing a team goal to have six combined turnovers or sacks with a total of 11.

Landon Stice grabbed a fumble forced by a powerful Parker Preator sack and returned it 28 yards for a touchdown to put WSU ahead 11-0 late in the first quarter — after McKade Mitton added a two-point conversion run — and Weber State never looked back.

Stice later intercepted a pass early in the fourth quarter to help squash South Dakota’s hopes of coming back from what was then a 21-3 deficit.

“The defensive line played great. They were getting pressure on when we weren’t even blitzing ... they forced almost all those turnovers because they were getting pressure on the quarterback,” Stice said.

Stice has accounted for three of Weber State’s nine turnovers this season for a team that is plus-eight in turnover margin.

“I’m the luckiest guy on this team,” he said.

With his team leading 11-3 but the Coyotes advancing across midfield, WSU defensive back Keilan Benjamin grabbed a second-quarter pick that set up WSU’s only offensive touchdown drive of the game.

Jake Constantine connected with Devon Cooley for 7 and 22 yards on consecutive plays, then Josh Davis ripped consecutive runs of 12 yards apiece.

Those plays set up a Constantine to Darryl Denby 5-yard touchdown toss, giving the Wildcats an 18-3 lead with 4:15 left in the first half.

The rest of the half highlighted Weber State’s offensive inconsistency. Davis returned a punt 54 yards to South Dakota’s 20. Constantine then just missed Justin Malone in the end zone but later, thanks to a pair of USD penalties, WSU faced a fourth-and-2 from the 3.

Kaden Jenks entered the game at quarterback and tossed an option pitch to Davis, who was stopped for no gain.

Trey Tuttle connected for field goals of 43, 39, 28 and 18 yards, while missing a 40-yarder, to account for the rest of WSU’s scoring.

“Offensively, those guys continue to do a great job of taking care of the ball ... we struggled tonight on third down, struggled in the red zone. That’s something we’ve got to get cleaned up,” Hill said.

“We’ve got some playmakers, we’ve just got to do a good job of getting them the ball. Right now, that’s not consistent,” he said.

Davis reprised his 177 rushing yard game from last week with another 105 yards on 27 carries. Constantine threw 15 of 27 for 140 yards.

The Wildcats held South Dakota to 28 rushing yards, helped by 73 negative yards on sacks. LeGrand Toia led the effort with 13 tackles and 3.5 tackles for loss.

Weber State opens Big Sky Conference play next week by hosting Northern Colorado (0-3).

Contact Brett Hein at bhein@standard.net, follow him on Twitter @bhein3 and at facebook.com/brettheinwrites.

Brett Hein is the sports editor and covers Weber State sports for the Standard-Examiner.

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