Jeff Carlson and Wade Orton got their records Saturday night, but the season ended short of the goal for Weber State's football team. It ended just the way it's gone all season for the Wildcats.
Weber was beaten 27-21 by a Northern Arizona team that came on stronger as the game went on.The Wildcats had the chance to win, getting the ball back with 1:41 left, but Orton got clobbered on Carlson's second incomplete pass of the drive, and Orton was on the sidelines with an icepack on his neck when it came time for Carlson to throw his desperation pass into the end zone. With :03 left, Carlson was intercepted in the end zone.
"That's kinda the way it's been all year," said Coach Mike Price. "A situation where we haven't had our first-team guys in there.
"I'm real disappointed our seniors didn't get to go out a winner. We didn't play good enough to win, but they played hard and got banged around and gave it 100 percent and have all year," Price said.
"You couldn't believe the effort our kids had. That's a sick bunch of kids in there now; I hope they can learn from it as a lesson in life.
On the final drive, Carlson had completed a fourth-and-10 pass to Peter Macon for a first down, another pass to Eric Price, and then Willie McDonald ran 20 yards on a draw to put the ball at the NAU 49-yard line with :41 left. Fine Unga ran 7 yards, and, on fourth-and-3 from the NAU 43 with :13 left, Carlson tried to hit tight end Gerald Wilcox in the end zone, but free safety John Dierking picked it off.
Weber State thus fell short of a winning season - 5-6, 4-4 in the Big Sky. Price went another season without winning at the Walkup Sky-Dome, where he's 0-5.
Orton and Carlson hooked up for all three Weber touchdowns - for 50 yards to open scoring in the first quarter, for 29 yards for a 14-7 lead at 9:25 of the second quarter and for 36 yards at 5:41 of the fourth quarter. That brought the 'Cats back from 27-14 to 27-21.
Orton needed three TD receptions to break the Weber career record, which he now owns with 18. Carlson owns school records for 26 TD passes in a season, 47 career TD passes and 49 career total TDs. He also became the leading passer and total-offense gainer in school history with 321 yards passing when he only needed 37 yards passing and 275 total offense.
Orton had seven grabs for 202 yards to boost his career records in both categories to 170 catches and 2,922 yards. Carlson fell just shy of 3,000 yards for the season at 2,968. A final TD pass would have done it.
The one play that probably dragged Weber down was a Carlson fumble on a first-and-goal play at the NAU 8-yard line late in the third quarter. NAU recovered and soon picked up a 19-yard field goal after a long end-around play by tight end Shawn Collins.
While NAU capitalized on the fumble, Weber recovered two third-period NAU fumbles and got no points out of them. "That's not like us," Price said.