Weber State football: Big first quarter helps Wildcats outlast Lumberjacks in season opener
OGDEN — The Weber State Wildcats (1-0) got off to a hot start and kept the momentum going to pick up a narrow 50-40 victory over Stephen F. Austin (0-1) Saturday night in front of 6,181 fans at Stewart Stadium.
The 'Cats were able to draw first blood by getting up on the board on their first drive of the game. Quarterback Jordan Adamczyk charged down the field, setting up wideout Erik Walker's 39-yard rushing touchdown.
Walker was all over the stat sheet, torching the Lumberjack defense for 166 total yards and a TD to lead the Wildcats.
"Erik's a good player. This is his fourth year and we have a connection. I know what he is going to do all the time. I wouldn't say he's my go-to-guy, because I definitely go through my reads, but he obviously helps out the offense a ton," said Adamczyk.
After the early touchdown, the home team decided to go for a two-point conversion, which the Wildcats were able to convert and open up an 8-0 lead just 1:39 into the game.
After forcing Stephen F. Austin to punt, Weber State went three-and-out and had to punt as well, giving the ball back to the Lumberjacks on the 50-yard line.
The Wildcats gave up just 20 yards before free safety D.J. Bush came out of nowhere and intercepted a pass attempt on Stephen F. Austin's 30-yard line. Bush took it 70 yards to the house, setting up yet another two-point conversion and putting the score at 16-0. Bush's interception return was the third longest in school history.
The Lumberjacks, however, wouldn't go down that easy. They came back on their following drive and quickly marched down field as quarterback Brady Attaway rifled a pass 36 yards to D.J. Ward in the back of the end zone, bringing the score to 16-7.
On the kickoff, Weber State All-American Bo Bolen was set to receive the kick. Bolen brought the ball out of the end zone, dodged a few tackles and ran 100 yards down the sideline to stretch the home team's lead to 23-7. It was just the sixth kickoff returned for a TD in Wildcat history.
Bolen had a solid night, rushing for 85 yards and totaling three TDs to help power the 'Cats.
"It's absolutely huge to have a guy like Bo back. I mean, he hit that kickoff and rushed for 85 yards. Our rushing was the key to tonight's win — that and turnovers," head coach Jody Sears said.
Neither team could put a quality-enough drive together in the second quarter, until the Lumberjacks, who just got stopped on an attempted fourth-down conversion, picked off another Wildcat pass attempt on Weber State's 26-yard line.
Stephen F. Austin's Jordan Wiggs would eventually chip in a 22-yard field goal to bring the score to 23-10 just before the end of the first half.
The Lumberjacks took just two plays to bring the score to 23-17 in the second half. Attaway bombed a 61-yard pass to Mike Brooks, which Attaway followed with another pass to Brooks, who he went untouched into the end zone.
The Wildcats wouldn't waste any time responding, however, as they quickly got down to the 28-yard line off a couple of Josh Booker bursts out of the backfield. Adamczyk then hooked up with Walker in the back of the end zone to match Stephen F. Austin and put the score at 30-17.
Weber State's defense seemed to collapse in the third quarter, as the Lumberjacks and 'Cats once again traded TDs when Aaron Thomas broke the plane for Stephen F. Austin and Bolen powered through the pylons for WSU.
Bolen got in the end zone again after he shook off a few tackles and rushed 19 yards to stretch his team's lead to 43-27 at the end of the third quarter.
The Lumberjacks came out in the fourth quarter and scored 14 straight to trim the Wildcats' lead to three with 11 minutes remaining.
Weber State came right back as Zach Smith took a reverse and sprinted 57 yards down the field and into the end zone to quickly put the home team back up by 10.
Thanks to a couple of late interceptions in Lumberjacks' territory, the 'Cats eventually held on for the 50-40 victory despite giving up 30 points in the second half.
The last time Weber State put 50 points on the board was in a 50-47 4OT victory against Northern Colorado in 2010.
Weber State next travels to Rice-Eccles Stadium to take on the University of Utah at noon Saturday.
Ryan Love was born and raised in Holladay, Utah and is a full-time student at the University of Utah studying communications. Ryan became a part-time sports reporter and scoreboarder for the Deseret News in October, 2012. EMAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org
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