We’ve got to continue to grow, help each other be confident that we can go out, sustain drives, score points, get stops and just keep playing. —Jody Sears, Weber State head coach
OGDEN — After winning their first game of the season, the Weber State Wildcats (1-8) are still left searching for that elusive second win as they take on in-state rival Southern Utah (6-3) Saturday afternoon at Stewart Stadium.
The ’Cats have lost eight-straight games and are coming off a 45-24 loss at Portland State, while the Thunderbirds had their bye week last week and have captured three of the last four meetings in Ogden.
Despite throwing for more than 330 yards, Weber State gave up 480 yards of total offense, 350 of which came on the ground, and committed two crucial turnovers as it fell to the Vikings on the road.
“We wore down a little bit in the second half (at Portland State) and gave up some big plays,” said head coach Jody Sears. “We did some good things on offense and were able to move the ball and make some plays, but had too many turnovers at key times."
The Wildcats really struggled running the ball and managed just 59 rushing yards, marking the third time this season they have been held under 100 yards for the game. Their hands will be full this week with a tough Southern Utah rushing defense that is ranked first in the Big Sky at 112 yards per game.
Junior wide receiver Shaydon Kehano made his season debut last week and had a monster game for the purple and white. Kehano finished with six catches for 123 yards and a touchdown to spark the ’Cats.
Fellow star wide-out Erik Walker, who totaled seven receptions for 79 yards and one touchdown last week, reached 1,000 career-receiving yards with his powerful performance.
The two dominant receivers will need to keep up their stellar play to help Weber State come away with a victory against its Big Sky rival Southern Utah.
Also, for the second-straight game, Weber State true freshman quarterback Austin Chipoletti had a career day. Chipoletti threw for 331 yards and two touchdowns, marking the first time in his young career that he has thrown for two touchdowns in a single game.
WSU sophomore Adam Padilla was a bright spot for the defense last week as he tied his season high and led the Wildcats with 13 tackles.
Weber State senior and captain Anthony Morales also totaled 12 tackles, including two tackles for loss. Morales has reached double figures in tackles in five of seven games this season and now sits in sixth place on the Weber State career tackles list.
Both Padilla and Morales will need to show up to anchor the Wildcats’ defense to give WSU a fighting chance against a tough Thunderbird squad.
“We have to keep grinding, keep our heads up and keep working,” Sears added. “We’ve got to continue to grow, help each other be confident that we can go out, sustain drives, score points, get stops and just keep playing.”
The Wildcats and Thunderbirds kick off at 1:05 p.m. at Stewart Stadium.
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