OGDEN — It seemed to have all the trappings of a 2018 Weber State football game Saturday at Stewart Stadium when the Wildcats hosted Southeast Missouri State in the second round of the FCS Playoffs.

A dominant, bone-crushing defense holding an opponent well under its averages; special teams and offensive miscues keeping the opponent closer than comfort; and, ultimately, a victory.

But this time, Weber State threw in a passing-game explosion in the second quarter and capped the game with an interception returned for a touchdown, burying the visiting Redhawks 48-23 to advance to the quarterfinals.

“I thought that was an awesome game,” head coach Jay Hill said. “Offense, defense, special teams all had their moments tonight ... I thought it was an awesome team win ... There was some adversity in that game I thought we handled well.”

Jake Constantine threw 17 of 25 for 191 yards and four touchdowns in the first half — with every score coming in the second quarter — to help Weber State turn a 7-0 deficit into a 27-7 halftime lead.

That second quarter proved pivotal. Constantine tied the game with a 10-yard scoring throw to Rashid Shaheed with 10:16 left in the second quarter.

Shaheed then had a second punt return for a touchdown nullified by a penalty in three games, but Keilan Benjamin picked off SEMO quarterback Daniel Santacaterina a few plays later to give the Wildcats a short field.

Santacaterina had only thrown seven interceptions all season but Benjamin’s was the first of four WSU would nab on the night.

“We practiced it all week and knew it was going to happen,” defensive back Jordan Preator said. “Coach Hill told us they were primed for a big-turnover game, that they would give us chances. We just had to capitalize on them, and I think we did exactly that.”

Benjamin’s pick set up a stellar one-handed grab from Devon Cooley, who fielded a back-shoulder line drive from Constantine for a 6-yard score to give Weber its first lead.

Weber’s next possession stalled near the SEMO 34 but Doug Lloyd, the punter, threw a fake punt pass to Jared Schiess to move the chains. That set Constantine up for a 16-yard touchdown to Isiah Jackson, his first TD of the season, to put Weber up 20-7 with 58 seconds left in the half.

But it wasn’t over there. Preator intercepted a deep pass and returned it across midfield. Constantine then connected with Jackson again on a 40-yard route up the sideline for a touchdown just before halftime.

Constantine added a fifth score, a 10-yard rushing touchdown, to open the second half for a 34-7 lead.

“It’s a great feeling,” Constantine said of his game. “I felt like that at North Dakota and ... then broke out again today. The O-line has been protecting me all year, I think it was just me getting more and more comfortable with myself and the offense. Ever since then, we’ve been rolling.”

SEMO countered with 16 unanswered points, capped by Demarcus Rogers returning a Constantine fumble 33 yards for a score.

But, leading 34-23 early in the fourth, holder Lloyd ran in a fake field goal from 4 yards out, Preator returned his second interception of the day for 52 yards and a score, and the Wildcats put the game away.

SEMO (9-4) came into Saturday averaging 38 points and 420 yards per game. Weber State held the Redhawks to 23 points and 268 total yards.

While the visitors got the run game going in the second half, Santacaterina was under duress all night, constantly running to avoid sacks (he was sacked four times) and look for receivers. He finished 12 of 30 for 110 yards and the four picks.

Weber State gained only 26 yards of offense in the first frame before the second-quarter barrage. The Wildcats finished with 409 yards.

Constantine finished with 199 yards through the air — including 62 to Shaheed, 56 to Jackson, 39 to Cooley and 24 to Darryl Denby.

Senior running back Treshawn Garrett didn’t find the end zone but made his return to the field known after sitting for several games with a hamstring injury. He rushed 17 times for 134 yards. Josh Davis added 62 yards.

No. 2 seed WSU (10-2) will host No. 7 seed Maine (9-3) at 6 p.m., Friday, Dec. 7, on ESPN2.

“We’re going to celebrate, I want them to be excited about wins like this,” Hill said. “We’re playing Maine, who is a dang-good football team ... We’ve got our work cut out for us.

“Our players will come back — it’s a veteran team — they’ll come back and hit the ground running Monday.”

Contact Brett Hein at bhein@standard.net. Follow him on Twitter @bhein3/@WeberHQ and at facebook.com/WeberStateSports.

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

See what people are talking about at The Community Table!