Snapped.

That word describes what happened Saturday to No. 3 Weber State football in several ways.

Three bad snaps doomed the Wildcats, who saw a seven-game win streak snapped in a thorough 35-16 loss to No. 5 Montana at Washington-Grizzly Stadium.

Weber State (8-3, 6-1 Big Sky) gave Montana short fields of 30 and 21 yards thanks to punt snaps that were rolled or bounced to punter Doug Lloyd. The second one led to a rushing touchdown that put the Griz up 21-3 early in the second quarter and it was mostly elementary from there.

WSU’s last chance to stay alive came when it drove 67 yards to the Montana 13 with just more than one minute left in the first half, hoping to make it 21-10 at halftime. Facing a third-and-2, Kaden Jenks came in at quarterback, ostensibly to run some kind of zone-read run play, but the shotgun snap landed at his feet and WSU lost 20 yards.

Trey Tuttle missed a 50-yard field goal on the next play and the Wildcats lost any whiff of momentum, compounding other mistakes with three huge snap miscues.

“With a short field, I didn’t think the defense handled those two situations well after both times the ball got rolled back to the punter. I thought we handled that very poorly, defensively,” WSU head coach Jay Hill said. “Then we gave up the two big, long throws — you just can’t do that in a big game, and we did it.

“We did so many things uncharacteristically of this team. My wife said it to me after, ‘I’ve never seen us do those things.’ And it’s true. In the last four years, we’ve not done that stuff.”

Montana (9-2, 6-1) snuffed out any possible hope to open the third quarter when Dalton Sneed hit Samori Toure for his second of two long slant plays for touchdowns. This one went for 59 yards and Montana took a 28-3 lead.

What’s worse for Weber State: sophomore receiver Devon Cooley and junior receiver Rashid Shaheed each left the game early in the first quarter. Cooley got stood up after a catch and left the game under concussion protocol, while Shaheed had his leg rolled on while blocking during a run play and was seen on the sidelines using crutches.

Josh Davis, who left last week’s game under concussion protocol, did play but was limited, using nine carries to gain 26 yards.

Then in the fourth quarter, Jake Constantine took the final of many hits he absorbed while throwing the ball away and appeared to hurt his hand during the tackle. He left the game. Sophomore tight end Justin Malone also left the game late with what appeared to be a leg injury.

Jenks helped WSU to some bright moments, finishing a drive for Constantine by rifling a sideline pass to Ty MacPherson for a 19-yard gain, setting up a 21-yard touchdown throw to Jon Christensen who got behind the defense with 8:15 left, making it 35-9.

With 1:04 left, Weber took the ball for the final time and used it to get Jenks some short-clock experience. Among six completions on the drive, two went to MacPherson for 39 and 11 yards, the latter a touchdown Jenks fired early to avoid a blitz, finding MacPherson over the middle.

That made the final tally 35-16. MacPherson finished with 11 receptions for 162 yards, giving WSU its fourth straight game with a 100-yard receiver. The Wildcats had five such performances in the last two seasons combined.

Kevin Smith rushed 19 times for 74 yards, carrying most of the load for a run game that totaled only 69 yards, thanks to 31 yards lost on bad snaps. Kris Jackson appeared once, in the third quarter, taking one carry for two yards to pick up a first down.

After the first bad punt snap in the first quarter, Montana needed four plays to go the needed 30 yards, ending on a 10-yard TD from Sneed to Toure. That represented the first time all season WSU did not score first against an FCS opponent.

The Wildcats got on the board with a 32-yard Tuttle field goal but Sneed and Toure then connected on their first long slant. Toure got inside his man and went 79 yards for a touchdown and a 14-3 lead. That represented the first time all season WSU trailed by more than seven points.

Toure finished with 193 yards and three touchdowns on just eight catches. Sneed threw 17 of 25 for 265 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions.

Weber threw the ball 51 times in the loss. Constantine was 18 of 34 for 170 yards and was picked off three times. In mop-up duty, Jenks threw 10 of 17 for 124 yards and the two touchdowns. Isiah Jackson caught five passes for 30 yards during the late touchdown drives.

With Shaheed hurt, Weber High product Hudson Schenck filled in on punt return, fair catching one kick while seeing the rest kicked out of bounds.

CONFERENCE RACE

The result leaves three teams in a tie for first place entering the final week of the Big Sky schedule: Weber State, Montana and Sacramento State.

The three took turns beating each other up this season: Weber beat Sac State by 19, Sac State beat Montana by 27, and Montana beat Weber by 19.

Sacramento State closes its regular season at home to UC Davis next week, while Montana plays at No. 10 Montana State.

While a playoff seed as high as last year’s No. 2 now seems out of reach, WSU — currently 8-1 against FCS teams — can still claim a conference title, a playoff seed and a first-round bye with a win over Idaho State next week.

“We can’t allow Montana to beat us twice. We’re still playing for a conference title next week,” Hill said. “At the onset of the season, that’s exactly what our No. 1 goal is, to win the conference championship.

“Another one of our goals is to be undefeated at home. We’ve got the opportunity to do that next week ... we’ve got so many of our goals still ahead of us and, quite frankly, none of our goals were lost today.

“We got our butts kicked,” Hill admitted, “but none of our goals were lost today.”

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

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