Hornets sting the ‘Cats

Sloan Calder punting the football at the game against Sacramento State.

In a battle between two of the top teams in the FCS, Weber State University’s football team lost to Sacramento State 33–30 on Nov. 5 at Stewart Stadium.

The weather proved to be an issue during the match as the rain poured over Ogden. As the Hornets set up for the opening kickoff, one player had to hold the ball on the kicking tee.

Unable to get the ball moving, the Wildcats punted on their opening possession. This gave Sacramento State an opportunity to show off their starting quarterback, senior Asher O’Hara.

O’Hara is known as a running quarterback and in the beginning of the game, he lived up to his reputation. Lining up at Weber State’s 40-yard line, O’Hara threw a 27-yard pass to receiver Pierre Williams that set Sacramento State up in the red zone. A few runs from running back Cameron Skattebo set O’Hara up for a touchdown run to put the Hornets up 7–0.

“I think there for a minute, we were just on eggshells a little bit with what he does,” Weber State head coach Jay Hill said about O’Hara.

“It’s a good scheme, right? When you run the quarterback, you get the plus one in the run game, and somebody’s got to get off a block and make a play.” Hill said. “I thought we settled in and played that actually pretty well after that, but the first drive hurt.”

The Wildcat offense came onto the field ready to respond. Coming off an injury, running back Josh Davis carried Weber State’s offense nearly 20 yards early in the drive.

“There’s a lot of confidence when JD’s on the field,” Wildcat quarterback Bronson Barron said. “We gave him the rock a lot that first half, and he did great.”

Davis was able to contribute 38 yards to Weber State’s drive. Getting to the red zone, Weber State tried to punch the ball through with running back Kris Jackson. After not getting through, Barron went to the air and found wide receiver Justin Sharp wide open in the back of the end zone.

With the score tied at 7–7, both teams were looking for opportunities to get ahead. After running 11-yards, Wildcat safety Desmond Williams forced Skattebo to fumble the ball, allowing linebacker Winston Reid to recover for Weber State.

Despite getting the ball back, the Wildcats weren’t able to take advantage of their possession. After Davis ran 12 yards to give Weber State another set of downs, running back Steven Shoats-Thomas turned the ball over on a fumble.

Following the fumble, the Hornets came back on the field for their second scoring drive. After an incomplete pass to Williams and a four-yard run from Skattebo, Sacramento State quarterback Jake Dunniway came in to complete an 18-yard pass to running back Marcus Fulcher. O’Hara came back after and found receiver Marshel Martin for a 48-yard touchdown pass.

Unable to get a second set of downs after receiving the kickoff, Weber State punted. However, a bad snap from Wildcat long snapper Grant Sands led to a safety. Sacramento State ended the first half up 16–7.

The Hornets got the ball back to start the third quarter, but weren’t able to progress. In an attempt to even the score, Wildcat running back Dontae McMillan broke off for two big runs after the punt to put Weber State at Sac State’s 45-yard line.

On third and 10, Barron found wide receiver Ty MacPherson jumping at Sacramento State’s 27-yard line for a catch. A few plays later, Barron found tight end Justin Malone wide open near the line of scrimmage. Malone ran the ball in with ease for a touchdown, making the score 16–14.

Sacramento State came back on the field ready to respond. Dunniway found Williams on a long pass to put the Hornets in the red zone. Finding Martin in the end zone, Dunniway threw for a touchdown, putting Sacramento State up 23–14.

After a throw from Barron bounced off the hands of Sharp for a Hornets’ interception, Sacramento State made another scoring drive. With O’Hara back on the field, Sacramento State started by running the ball. O’Hara then found tight end Coleman Kuntz, who was able to get to Weber State’s 45-yard line.

At the end of the third quarter, the Hornets came into the fourth at the 1-yard line. Jumping into the end zone, O’Hara gave Sacramento State another touchdown to make the score 30–14.

Keeping his team competitive, Wildcat cornerback Abraham Williams broke off during the kick return, running all the way back to the end zone.

Trying to make it a one-score game, Weber State went for two but came up short. An unsportsmanlike conduct penalty gave them a second shot, but they still couldn’t convert, keeping the score 30–20.

Nearing the end of the fourth quarter, the Wildcats put a field goal drive together to make the score 30–23. With roughly four minutes to go, Weber State attempted an onside kick to maintain possession. The kick bounced out of bounds, giving the Hornets possession near mid-field.

“I was going to kick it off deep, and then I switched in the end and thought, ‘You know what, we got a chance that if we kick the onside, the defense still has a chance to get,'” Hill said. “I knew that a field goal there was going to hurt. That’s gameplay. It’s right on the brink of ‘Do you kick it onsides? Do you not kick it onsides?’ You’ve got to make a decision right there.”

Sacramento State took advantage of their field position and kicked one through the uprights, making the score 33–23. The Wildcats were able to fight their way back to the end zone, but the Hornets found a way to waste the clock.

In the red zone, Sacramento State committed pass interference multiple times to force the ball back for more plays. With less than 15 seconds on the clock, Barron sneaked into the end zone to make the score 33-30. The Wildcats tried for an onside kick at the end, but the ball was recovered by the Hornets.

O’Hara ended the game with 162 passing yards, 81 rushing yards, one passing touchdown and two rushing touchdowns. Barron also had three touchdowns, with two coming from passing and one from rushing.

“I thought the guys battled all the way to the bitter end,” Hill said. “I was fired up with how the guys responded. Never gave up; that was a big deal.”

Weber State will return to Stewart Stadium to take on Idaho State University on Nov. 12 at 1 p.m.