Weber State football: Wildcats snap 10-game losing streak, roll past Idaho State
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
OGDEN — If there is one program the Weber State Wildcats enjoy playing, it is Idaho State. The Wildcats (2-10) continued their dominance over their Big Sky rival Saturday afternoon, topping Idaho State 32-7 to extend their home winning streak over the Bengals (3-9) to 14 games and end the season on a positive note.
"Personally, I'm elated. But I'm more happy for our seniors because of what they've had to go through, especially in the last couple of years." said Weber State head coach Jody Sears. "To see them united, continuing to press forward, keeping the faith and keep believing, I am so happy for them."
Weber State, coming off an embarrassing 6-yard rushing performance last week, ran all over the Bengals' defense and jumped out to an early lead.
The 'Cats ran nine plays for 77 yards, including a 39-yard dash out of the backfield from Bo Bolen and a 9-yard rushing TD by Josh Booker, to put the home team on top 7-0 with 12:08 remaining in the first quarter.
Bolen and Booker set the pace for the home team, as they combined for 245 yards on the ground and three TDs in the lopsided win. Booker rushed for a career-high 139 yards and two scores alone.
"With the wind being ridiculous, we knew our passing game wasn't going to be as effective," said Booker. "We ran some in the first half, but in the second half, Coach (Sears) told us that we are going to run the ball to win this game. And that's just what we did. Bo and I just kept plugging away."
Early on, Idaho State did answer, as running back Xavier Finney capped off a 53-yard Bengal drive with a 3-yard rushing touchdown to knot the score at 7-7.
After failing to convert on third down, Weber State punter Tony Epperson booted an impressive 86-yard punt to pin the Bengals within 10 yards of their end zone. It was the longest punt in school history.
"Honestly, it was pretty nice when the wind was at your back, but it was still hard to kick with the wind," Epperson said. "The ball was going everywhere when you'd drop it, it was going to the side a bit. But I hit some pretty good ones today with it. It ended up working out all right."
A couple of plays later, junior free safety D.J. Bush picked off Justin Arias and took it 26 yards to the house to put the home team up 13-7 at the end of the first quarter.
After trading punts for a few possessions, WSU finally made some more noise when Dustin Martin forced a Bengals fumble in the red zone and the home team recovered on the 7-yard line. The 'Cats defense made sure its presence was known, as it was able to come away plus-three in the turnover margin.
"We emphasize in practice going after the ball and trying to get the ball out, and we came out there today and we got the ball out," said senior star linebacker Anthony Morales. "We just gave the offense an opportunity to score the ball."
Bolen then took a handoff from Austin Chipoletti and powered it 7 yards into the corner of the end zone, giving Weber State an impressive 20-7 lead at the break.
Both teams stuck to their hard-nosed running and punting games in the second half, and neither team could get much going in the third quarter.
Things picked back up in the fourth when senior wide out Erik Walker hauled in a 17-yard pass from Chipoletti in the upper-right corner of the end zone to put the score at 26-7 with just 12:20 remaining.
Weber State's swarming defense ultimately held off the Bengals' offense the rest of the way, while Booker added to the Wildcats' lead by punching in another rushing TD late in the fourth as the 'Cats picked up their second win of the season by knocking off Idaho State.
With the win, Weber State snaps its 10-game losing streak, picks up just its fourth victory in the past two seasons and extends its winning streak against Idaho State to 14.
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