Wildcat fifth-year senior Willie McDonald has always had the title of running back, but he was more properly a blocking back. In high school. In college. Last season, he was supposed to start for Weber State as a blocking back for Sean Sanders, but Fine Unga moved into the program and blocked McDonald's path.
This season, McDonald had carried the ball a whole 44 times for 133 yards going into Saturday's contest at Eastern Washington. His career was growing old, and he was still dreaming of that 100-yard day.He finally got it, times two, as the Wildcats downed EWU 51-30 to move their record to 4-5 and 3-3 in the Big Sky conference.
Weber State found Eastern Washington's defense and the rainy day conducive to groundwork, and with Unga nursing a thigh bruise and the 'Cats unwilling to risk further damage by overworking him, McDonald ran the Astroturf for 210 yards, his career best. Unga added 134 yards and three touchdowns after staying out of the starting lineup.
Late in the game, on Unga's third TD, McDonald suffered a knee injury and lay on the turf. Coach Mike Price hustled out to comfort him. "I said, `Hey, Willie, you've been waiting five years for a chance like this. Here's your chance to run. You're not going to get hurt.' He said, `I'm not hurt, I'm not hurt,' " Price said.
McDonald, in fact, got up and finished the game by scoring his sixth touchdown of the season to give the 'Cats a three-TD margin.
"It was his day to shine," said Price.
Price said sophomore George Jackson also ran well until an ankle sprain forced him out early in the game. With :40 to go in the game, the Wildcats lost freshman offensive tackle Tom Stackaruk to a knee injury.
Eastern Washington shocked Weber by taking a 17-0 lead in the first few minutes of the game thanks to a 97-yard kickoff return and a fumble recovered in the Wildcat end zone on their second play of the game.
Price, whose team started badly the past couple of weeks, said his players were really down following the losses to Idaho and Montana.