I think we’re definitely headed in the right direction. We’re getting better and this was a huge win for our program, but we still have a bunch of steps we can continue to take forward, and when we do I think we’ll be one of the elite teams in this conference. —Jay Hill
OGDEN — The Weber State football team sure has come a long way in the last two years.
After undergoing a series of pinball-type changes, highlighted by thoe hiring of new head coach Jay Hill, and completely revamping their program, the Wildcats are finally headed in the right direction.
Just over two seasons removed from its blowout 37-13 loss at UC Davis, Weber State made a statement against the Aggies Saturday afternoon, dominating them across the board for 60 minutes en route to a 23-3 victory and first winning conference record (4-3) since 2011-12.
“I think we’re definitely headed in the right direction. We’re getting better and this was a huge win for our program, but we still have a bunch of steps we can continue to take forward, and when we do I think we’ll be one of the elite teams in this conference,” Hill said.
Both teams got off to somewhat slow starts but managed to swap field goals and headed to the second quarter tied at 3-3.
Then, after misfiring on each of his first seven pass attempts, quarterback Jadrian Clark suddenly found his groove and responded with six straight completions to ignite the offense and spark a momentous run.
Following a WSU (5-5, 4-3) FG, Treshawn Garrett exploited and sliced through UCD's porous run defense with a pair of rushing TDs, one of which went for 21 yards, in under two minutes to cap off a dominant 17-0 run and head to the half 20-3.
“The offense moved the heck out of the ball. It was 314 yards we had in the first half of just moving the ball up and down the field. We knew going into the game Treshawn was going to be our guy — he’s going to be an outstanding back,” said Hill.
The freshman RB ran all over the Aggies (1-8, 1-5) as he finished the night with a career-high 156 of his team's 321 rushing yards, 100 of which came in the first half alone, and two first-half scores on just 19 carries to power the ‘Cats in the win.
“I felt wonderful today and the offensive line was really doing their job today. They got me the ball, I hit the holes and they were just there for me — it feels wonderful,” Garrett said.
After giving up just 16 yards, two first downs and three points while also forcing a turnover in the first 30 minutes of the game, Weber State's defense held strong and didn't break — heck, it barely even bent — in the second half to keep the visitors at bay and remain in complete control.
Following a missed field goal attempt, Weber State blocked a UCD FG try to set up a Josh Kealamakia field goal and take a 23-3 lead into the fourth.
Despite both teams getting a couple more scoring opportunities in the final 15 minutes, a turnover from both teams, including a key UC Davis turnover on downs in the red zone, and solid defense kept both teams scoreless the rest of the way.
“I thought the defense played really well, especially in the first half. We held them to just 16 yards in the first half and 146 for the game, so that was huge,” said Hill.
WSU now heads into its bye week before hosting Idaho State in a crucial conference battle, where it now has a chance to post its first winning season since 2010-11.
“That was our No. 1 goal at the beginning of the season — to have a winning record. We hadn’t won more than two games in the previous three years and we have a chance now to win more games than they won in three years prior to me coming here, so that’s a big thing for this team and this program,” Hill added.
Ryan Love is a full-time student and has been a part-time sportswriter for Deseret News since Oct. 2012.
Follow him on Twitter @RLove7724