OGDEN — Jay Hill said during game-week practice that one of his goals for Saturday’s home opener was to outrush Cal Poly, an option team.
The No. 7 Wildcats scored touchdowns on either side of halftime to take control, outrushing the visiting Mustangs by 111 yards in a 41-24 win at Stewart Stadium.
“I thought the offensive line played outstanding,” Hill said. “I thought there were gaping holes. The running backs ran hard. Josh Davis was blasting people, Kevin Smith ... you saw him running through tackles ... coach (Quinton) Ganther did a good job getting those guys ready to play.”
At the end of the night, WSU outrushed Cal Poly 275-164. Davis ran for 129 yards on 14 carries (9.2 yards per carry) and Smith totaled 114 yards on 13 carries (8.8 ypc).
Cal Poly (1-1) moved the ball early with a balanced diet of passing and the option run. Freshman quarterback Jalen Hamler finished a 90-yard drive by cutting upfield through the tackles on an option run and dashing 47 yards for a touchdown to put the Mustangs up 10-3 with 6:24 left in the first half.
Hamler’s arm and receiver JJ Koski’s route-running kept Weber State honest early and the Mustangs moved the ball well.
“That’s a really, really good football team we just beat,” Hill said. “They’re going to win a lot of games. I wouldn’t be surprised if, at the end of the season, they’re a playoff team.”
Hill pointed out that Cal Poly blasted San Diego last week in a game it led 52-14 at one point. Just before WSU kicked off Saturday, San Diego fumbled at the goal line with 2 seconds left in a play that would’ve put the Toreros over No. 4 UC Davis in victory.
“Hats off to Cal Poly, that was a really good team,” senior linebacker Auston Tesch said. “Just keeping our poise, grinding through long series, reading our keys, that kind of kept us holding them off, especially in that first half.”
Weber State (1-1) answered with its first touchdown of the season. Smith gashed the Mustangs for a 47 yard run, setting up a 20-yard touchdown toss from Jake Constantine to Rashid Shaheed to tie the game 10-10.
Weber quickly forced a three-and-out and took the ball at its own 23 with 2:02 left in the first half. A 16-yard pass to Shaheed was the biggest play in a series of quick plays that moved Weber State near the red zone.
With no timeouts and facing a third-and-1 with 32 seconds left, Davis rushed through a big hole up the middle, then weaved around the Cal Poly defense for a 22-yard touchdown. Weber led 17-10 at halftime.
WSU got the kickoff to start the second half and quickly moved into Cal Poly territory when Davis broke a run of 30 yards then, in a hurry-up play, picked up 17 more yards on another rush.
That drive ended when Kris Jackson punched in one of his two rushing touchdowns and Weber led 24-10.
Weber held Cal Poly on a fourth-and-goal and the 1 on the next possession but eventually gifted the Mustangs a touchdown on a botched punt snap and fumble in the end zone.
Despite that, WSU answered with two touchdown drives that put the Wildcats up 38-17 with 6:50 left in the game.
WSU held Cal Poly to 138 yards in the second half. Tesch said Weber plays an entirely different defense against the Mustangs’ option which involves new rules and putting linebacker Conner Mortensen at safety.
In between the decisive scoring drives, however, Constantine went down with what appeared like a knee injury on a scramble, taking a hit to his legs. He tried to return but could not plant to throw on his next pass.
“They said they don’t believe it’s an ACL or anything major, but you never quite know,” Hill said about Constantine’s injury. “We’re going to need him to get back and healthy.”
Sophomore quarterback Kaden Jenks, who played one snap last week after last year’s season-ending ankle/foot injury, took over late in the third quarter.
In Weber’s final touchdown drive to go up 38-17, Jenks hit David Ames for 11 yards on a slant over the middle, found Devon Cooley for 19 yards inside the Cal Poly 10, then rushed for 8 yards on a second-down, zone-read play to the Cal Poly 1.
“Kaden was playing well, we had the lead, we know we can win with Kaden,” Hill said.
The two quarterbacks combined to throw 22 for 30 for 182 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions.
Tesch led the WSU defense with 11 tackles, including a team-high two for loss. Adam Rodriguez recorded two sacks on the final two plays of the game.
WSU moves on to play Nevada (1-1) next week. Tesch said Weber is excited to get another crack at an FBS team after last week’s 6-0 loss to San Diego State.
“The pressure’s really on them. We got a good win tonight, we’re rolling into next week and you never know what’s going to happen,” Tesch said.