In an aerial shootout between two throwing quarterbacks, it turned out to be a couple of burley linemen who ultimately sealed the fate of Weber State to a bitter/sweet loss to the University of Montana Grizzlies, 39-37.
Weber had its chances to win. It also owned the quarterback that hit a school-record 504 yards passing. And it came up with a perfect on-side kick that gave hope when losing seemed inevitable. And it staged a last minute drive that appeared sure to score. But, the little gremlins slipped in between the good plays to make this a hard-felt loss for the Wildcats.The Grizzlies, a preseason favorite, ended up winning their first Big Sky Conference game in three ties by holding onto the ball for the last minute and seven seconds.
As Weber quarterback Jamie Martin said, it was a hard loss to take because his teammates had done so many things right.
Weber Coach Dave Arslanian said it better when he confided that "37 points would normally win a lot of games."
Weber held a 21-0 lead at one point and seemed to have the Grizzlies down on themselves.
Montana quarterback Grady Bennett said he saw it, then and in the Grizzlies' two other losses.
"Normally, I'm not a rah-rah-type guy. I knew I had to do something, though, so I started running up and down the sidelines yelling for them (teammates) to get excited. It seemed to work. Before, nothing was going right. Then everything started going right for us."
Trailing 21-15 at the half, Montana watched Weber take the ball on its first possession in the second half and score on a Martin to Rick Justice four-yard pass. A two-point conversion failed to leave it 27-15.
Martin admitted that Weber didn't execute like it did early in the last drive.
Arslanian, too, said a couple of plays didn't go the way they should have . . . "and that was the game."
Martin finished with 30 of 45 passes completed for 504 yards, which broke a record set in 1985 of 442 yards. Bennett hit 32 of 52 passes for 435 yards passing.
Justice had 133 yards in pass receptions, Trevor Shaw 122 and Dave Hall 142 yards. George Jackson has 61 yards rushing.
The first half was a game of big plays and turn-arounds. Weber scored three times in the first half and needed a grand total of only four minutes of offense to do it.
Sitting comfortably with a 21-0 lead, Weber fans saw momentum turn 180 degrees on one play midway through the second quarter. Montana's Craig Whitney broke up the middle, was hit, but spun off and ran right - 50 yards to the end zone.
Two plays later, Montana's Steve Collins intercepted a Martin pass mid-field. Then Cockhill snatched a lobbed pass over the defense with one hand and fell down on the eight. Three plays later Tony Goulet caught a Bennett pass for the touchdown. Kicker Kirk Duce then faked out the defense and tossed a pass for a two-point conversion.
Suddenly, a 21-0 runaway was a 21-15 game. It could have been worse had not Weber's Justin Jones intercepted a pass on the Wildcat's 14 with 51 seconds left.
In the first quarter it looked as if Weber had this game wired. Austin Peters intercepted a Bennett pass to stop what was a strong drive.
Martin got the offense going with a perfectly lobbed pass to Shaw that was good for 54 yards. Jackson ran untouched around the left end to score - one minute, three seconds.
Five minutes later, Martin hit Justice for 39 yards to the three. Jackson punched it in three plays later - one minute, 32 seconds.
Finally, with 10:54 to play before the half, Martin hit Hall who, with some key blocks, ran 73 yards to score - one minute, 25 seconds.
Martin finished the half with 10 of 14 completions for 229 yards. Bennett was 19 of 32 for 238 yards.