OGDEN You could say Weber State's blowout victory over Montana-Western was over when running back Trevyn Smith scored the first of his four touchdowns less than five minutes into Thursday night's game.
A realist would probably say the outcome was decided when the two teams signed a contract to play. Nonetheless, the Wildcats, as expected, had their way on offense, defense and special teams against the overmatched NAIA Bulldogs in a 62-6 victory in front of 5,182 fans at Elizabeth Dee Shaw Stewart Stadium.
Weber State racked up 535 yards of offense, more than doubling Montana-Western's output, forced three turnovers and did little to temper the high expectations fans have for this year's team. The 62 points scored by the Wildcats were the sixth-most in school history.
"It's a great way to start off the season," Smith said. "I thought it was where we needed to be."
It took the Wildcats nearly a quarter to assert their dominance and a big play from defensive lineman Kevin Linehan over lower-level Montana-Western. The two teams were almost even in total yards late in the first quarter. After the Wildcats scored on their opening possession, they had two straight three-and-outs. The Bulldogs were shockingly in position to tie the game when they drove to the Wildcats' 3-yard line in the final seconds of the quarter.
But on the final play of the period, Weber State defensive tackle Ryan Eastman forced Montana-Western running back Derrick Pluff to fumble, and Linehan picked it up and returned it 94 yards for a touchdown. The score gave the Wildcats the game's momentum, igniting them to blow the Bulldogs off the field as expected.
"I think it gave the team some spirit seeing a D-lineman running 95 yards down the field," Linehan said. "It was exciting."
Linehan briefly paused after he picked up the fumble because it was a close call whether Pluff had fumbled. It was the first time he returned a fumble for a touchdown in his football career. He said he returned an interception to an opponent's 3-yard line one time in high school.
"Everyone just kind of stopped and I was like, 'Is the play done?'" Linehan said of his touchdown on Thursday. "I picked up the ball, looked at the ref, he looked at me, and I just went."
Following Linehan's score, Weber State's first-team offense scored on four of its next five possessions while building a 49-6 lead during the next two quarters. Quarterback Cameron Higgins was sharp, completing 17-of-27 passes for 286 yards and two touchdowns.
Smith was the workhorse of the offense, as he rushed 15 times for 68 yards. He played for a little more than two quarters before redshirt freshman Justin White took his place in the lineup and gained 62 yards on 15 carries. Fullback Marcus Mailei also contributed, hauling in a 3-yard touchdown pass from Higgins in the second quarter.
Weber State kept Montana-Western from gaining a first down in the second half.The Wildcats were able to empty their bench in the easy victory. A total of 27 players registered a defensive stat, while eight players caught passes from Higgins and Brendon Doyle. Justin Schwartzbauer caught a 13-yard touchdown pass from Doyle in the fourth quarter.
E-mail: [email protected]