Weber State had a "Whalen" of a headache Saturday. It was painful. Teeth-clinching agony. Eye-watering. And there was nothing it could do to ease the pain. Neither offense nor defense worked.
And it's doubtful the pain of the 28-7 whipping delivered by Ray Whalen and his University of Nevada teammates will go away soon.As Wildcat Coach Dave Arslanian said after, "We've played eight good games offensively and one bad. This one was bad, real bad."
Defensively the Wildcats had their troubles, too. Whalen, who ran for 229 yards in the last two games and recorded his career best of 120 yards two weeks ago, cut and weaved through the Weber defense for 220 yards, 156 of it in the first half.
And so it was: Weber couldn't get its offense in motion and its defense to stop when it needed, and it didn't help having Nevada play precisely the game it drew up on the chalk board pregame.
"We wanted to keep the ball away from them . . . We wanted to keep the pressure on (Jamie) Martin . . . We wanted to bump-and-run with the receivers and keep them from getting the long passes . . . We wanted to confuse Martin by going from a zone to a man-to-man coverage . . . And we wanted to run," said Nevada Coach Chris Ault.
And all that the Wolf Pack did.
Weber, the Division 1-AA leader in passing offense (347.3 yards) and total offense (508.8 yards), got just 238 yards passing and 312 yards total.
Martin, who led in total offense (348.8 yards a game), did little for his cause Saturday - 238 yards passing and a minus-65 rushing for a net 173. He also had a string of six 300-yard games going before this.
And the Weber receivers, normally considered among the stickiest-fingered catchers in the league, came up with only 18 of 36 passes that Martin threw. Rick Justice, third in the nation in receiving with 7.6 per game, had only four.
"Defensively we were OK, but offensively we stunk the place up. Credit their defense, though. I think it's the best we've faced. Our passes had to be prefect and catches great, and they weren't," said Arslanian.
It was certainly not the scoring show that Weber fans have been accustomed to this season. In fact, had it not been for a Wolf Pack player, Weber may have gone scoreless. With under eight minutes to play, Nevada had stopped Weber on third-and-four on its 28. Wrong words by a Nevada player, however, brought out the yellow flag and a second chance for the Wildcats. Martin took advantage and on the next play lobbed a pass to Trevor Shaw for 13 yards and a touchdown. Brent Chuhaniuk's point-after was good. End of scoring for Weber.
The Wolf Pack, in contrast, was as steady as time. They score once in the first quarter, once in the second, once in the third and once in the fourth. Somewhat questionable was a decision to break the string when Nevada got the ball back with three seconds to play and possession on the Weber five. Quarterback Fred Gatlin threw up a pass that fell incomplete.
"It was an audible at the line," said Ault. "He was supposed to drop his knee. It wasn't supposed to happen that way. We just had a meeting about that, in fact."
Almost from the onset it was certain that Weber was going to have a troubling day. After six plays, Weber's Maurice Jackson intercepted a Gatlin pass on the Nevada 27. Then on Nevada's next possession, Whalen fumbled on Weber's 17. Good? In both cases Weber had to punt away the opportunity.
Then, with "zero-zero-zero" showing on the scoreboard, on the very last play in the quarter, Gatlin passed to Treamelle Taylor for 35 yards and the first TD.
In the second quarter, Weber fumbled on its first possession, then had a 50-yard field goal blocked on its second. With 1:24 before halftime, Whalen ran off left tackle 46 yards to score.
In the fourth quarter, Weber scored at 7:34.
And so, Nevada moved to a perfect 8-0 and 6-0 in the Big Sky Conference, and Weber dropped to a painful 4-5 and 3-4. Weber has but one conference game left - Northern Arizona - next week. McNeese State ends Weber's 1990 season. Two wins will put the Wildcats over .500 and possibly ease what has been, at times, a painful season.