OGDEN — All season long, Weber State head coach Jay Hill waited patiently to witness a complete showing by his Wildcats.
Whether because of youth, injury, any number of reasons, through 11 games he just hadn’t.
Hill had seen glimpses of what the Wildcats might look like when they put it all together on offense, defense and special teams — Weber State won nine of those 11 contests after all — but that complete game had ultimately eluded Weber State football.
After Saturday afternoon, that is no longer the case.
Powered by season-best showings in all three facets of the game, Weber State convincingly defeated Southeast Missouri State 48-23 at Stewart Stadium Saturday, in the second round of the FCS playoffs.
It was a performance that left Hill grinning from ear to ear.
“I thought that was an awesome game,” Hill said. “Offense, defense, and special teams … they all had their moments tonight.”
On offense, quarterback Jake Constantine was the standout. The sophomore threw a career-high four touchdown passes and rushed for another score.
Senior tailback Treshawn Garrett was no less impressive and ran for 134 yards on 17 carries.
Defensively, the Wildcats recorded four interceptions, including two by senior defensive back Jordan Preator — Preator’s second interception was a 52-yard game-sealing pick-six — all the while holding SEMO to just 268 total yards of offense.
On special teams, the Wildcats benefitted from multiple electric returns by Big Sky All-Conference return man Rashid Shaheed, as well as numerous successful 4th down fakes — Weber State completed four of its five fourth-down conversion attempts — the last of which — a fake field goal — resulted in a touchdown run for Australian punter Doug Lloyd.
“I thought there were a lot of big plays on the offensive side of the ball, both running and throwing the ball,” said Hill. “Special teams obviously had some huge plays in that game and the defense forced a bunch of turnovers and had a lot of sacks.”
“Weber State, they did an outstanding job,” SEMO head coach Tom Matukewicz added. “They have the kind of program that we are trying to be, and they made those critical special teams and fourth-down plays. You have to give them credit.”
For all the success, Weber State trailed early on.
The Redhawks took a 7-0 lead late in the first quarter on a two-yard touchdown run by quarterback Daniel Santacaterina.
The Wildcats, meanwhile, struggled to do much of anything offensively, as freshman All-American running back Josh Davis was bottled up time and again.
“SEMO is a dang good football team,” said Hill. “They won a lot of games this year and they are stout (defensively). They do a good job stopping the run.
“They play hard,” he continued. “I think that was part of (our slow start). There was some give and take at the beginning, some feeling out of exactly what is going on and quite frankly (SEMO) were playing really well at that time.”
The key, added Hill, was field position. Namely in the first quarter the Wildcats didn’t have any.
They did in the second quarter and it was in that frame that Constantine led the Weber State offense on four scoring drives, each of which ended in a touchdown reception.
Sophomore Isiah Jackson hauled in two touchdown receptions, while Shaheed and Devon Cooley each added another.
“We have weapons out there,” said Hill. “Early in the year, we were just trying to find a way to get better. We had to find a way to win, as we were getting better with such a young crew. Now you are starting to see weapons emerge.”4 comments on this story
“It is a great feeling,” Constantine added. “I felt like I broke out again today.”
Constantine added a rushing score to start the second half, a touchdown that stretched the Wildcats lead to 34-7.
“That was the game,” said Hill. “The way we finished the second quarter and how we started the third.”
SEMO drew as close as 34-23 in the fourth quarter, after linebacker Demarcus Rogers returned a Constantine fumble 33 yards for a touchdown, but Preator’s pick six and Lloyd’s four yard touchdown run put the game away.