After having a week off, the Weber State Wildcats (1-7) begin the final stretch of the season this Saturday when they travel to Portland, Ore., to take on the Portland State Vikings (4-4).
The ‘Cats are losers of seven straight and are coming off a 34-16 home loss to fifth-ranked Montana State, while the Vikings picked up their first Big Sky win last week by defeating North Dakota 14-10.
“I thought there was a lot of growth in our last game and we were able to execute and make some plays,” Weber State head coach Jody Sears said.
In their last game before the bye week, the Wildcats posted a season high in total yards (497) and had one of their best offensive performances of the season, but costly turnovers gave the game to the Bobcats.
“We just have to cut down on turnovers. There are no moral victories and I told our team that,” Sears added.
Weber State has won five straight games over the Vikings, but Portland State’s powerful offense may put an end to that streak.
PSU leads the Big Sky and is ranked fourth in the nation in total offense (518.9 ypg). It is second in the Big Sky in rushing offense (251.2 ypg).
WSU will need to show up defensively and limit turnovers to come away with its second victory of the season.
After missing two games due to a nagging hamstring injury, senior captain Anthony Morales returned to anchor the Wildcat defense against the Bobcats. Morales finished with a game-high 13 tackles, six solo and seven assisted, 1 1/2 tackles for loss and his first sack of the season. This season, Morales ranks eighth in the Big Sky in tackles at 9.2 per game.
Quarterback Austin Chipoletti, who is coming off the best game of his young career against Montana State, will need to continue to raise the bar to help this Wildcat team win some of their final games of the season.
Meanwhile, Bo Bolen rushed for a season-high 124 yards and one TD against Montana State, which drastically opened things up for Erik Walker and Weber State’s passing game. Bolen will have to be effective in the run game to get things going for the 'Cats offensively.
“We just have to keep pressing on," Sears said. "We have done a lot of good things and there are a lot of things we can gain confidence from. We are looking for consistency and staying united.”
The Wildcats and Vikings kick off at 2:05 p.m. at Jeld-Wen Field.
Ryan Love is a full-time student at the University of Utah studying communications, and has been a part-time sports reporter and scoreboarder for the Deseret News since Oct. 2012.
Follow him on Twitter @RLove7724