OGDEN — Though Weber State and South Dakota haven’t played each other very often, the two previous encounters were nail-biters.
In 1970, the Wildcats and Coyotes finished in a tie. Two years ago was more painful for WSU as the purple-clad visitors blew a three-touchdown lead and ended up losing to USD in double overtime.
There were no such dramatics this time around. Weber State won its home-opener 27-10 at Stewart Stadium.
“That was a dang good win,” Weber State coach Jay Hill said. “That’s a good football team we just beat.”
This was a stellar defensive showing for the Wildcats, who completely shut down an offense that came into this showdown ranked fourth in FCS in passing and 15th in total offense. USD played well at Kansas State (27-24 loss) and then beat Northern Colorado last week.
Despite its previous offensive success, South Dakota was limited to 238 yards overall and only reached double digits after Dakarai Allen caught his teammate’s dropped pass in the end zone for a touchdown with 10 seconds remaining to make the final margin a tad more respectable.
Weber State had eight sacks and three takeaways. Linebacker LeGrand Toia led the way with 13 tackles and two sacks.
“I really like the way our defense played. They really got after it,” said Hill, who was especially pleased with how his team had a combined 11 sacks and takeaways for a team that shoots for six. “That was huge, enormous in the game. … I thought those guys played great.”
This wasn’t exactly an offensive explosion for the Wildcats, who finished with 238 total yards. Weber State had been outgained 908 yards to 383 yards against Cal Poly and Utah (59-yard output). This was a season-high for scoring, though.
Weber State struck first with a 43-yard field goal by Trey Tuttle. The 5-foot-9 sophomore kicker finished with four FGs, which was one shy of former Wildcat great Scott Shields’s school record of five in one game.
The Wildcats took a double-digit lead after cornerback Parker Preator knocked the ball out of USD quarterback Austin Simmons’s hands while sacking him. Linebacker Landon Stice was in a fortuitous position, picking up the ball and racing 28 yards to paydirt. The Wildcats punched in the two-point conversion for an 11-0 lead.
“I was blitzing and I just came behind everyone, and it was just sitting there waiting for me,” Stice said. “So yeah, I’m the luckiest guy on this team.”Comment on this story
The Coyotes answered with a field goal, but Weber State took an 18-3 lead to halftime after Darryl Denby dove to haul in a 5-yard scoring reception from quarterback Jake Constantine.
The Wildcats were turned away at the goal line later in the half, but they added another three points on an 18-yard field goal in the third quarter.
Tuttle made three of four field goal attempts for all of Weber State's second-half scoring.
Weber State begins its Big Sky schedule next Saturday at home against Northern Colorado.