Wildcats start strong, but can't hold on against Cal Poly

[media-credit name=”weberstatesports.com” align=”alignright” width=”300″][/media-credit]For much of the game on Friday night against California Polytechnic State University, Weber State University looked strong against the No. 20 Mustangs. Then the wheels fell off.

An interception, penalties and dropped passes hurt the Wildcats in the second half as they fell to the Mustangs 45-23. Cal Poly scored 24 straight second-half points.

In the third quarter, with the Wildcats only trailing by a point, things started to shift when quarterback Mike Hoke threw a one-yard interception. Hoke was trying to avoid a sack and threw the ball directly to Cal Poly defensive lineman Barrett Wangara. He would run 58 yards for a touchdown. It was Cal Poly’s second touchdown in three minutes.

Hoke said that turnover was a bad decision on his part and changed the swing of things for Cal Poly.

“They did the same thing the whole game pretty much,” Hoke said. “It was just a lack of execution. That one fumble just changed the momentum. I was just trying to throw it away, but I should have just taken the sack.”

WSU started the game out strong and had its best first half of the year, scoring 13 points, and scored their first points of the first quarter. The 13 points came off two Shaun McClain field goals, including a career long 46-yard attempt and a nine-yard reception by Erik Walker.

The Mustangs got their first touchdown after a failed fake punt by WSU. Cal Poly took over on WSU’s 29-yard line and quickly made the Wildcats pay. Kristaan Ivory caught a screen pass and ran up the middle for a touchdown early in the second quarter.

The Mustangs got their second touchdown of the game late in the second quarter. Quarterback Andre Broadous hit Brandon Howe to put Cal Poly up 14-13. The Mustangs would take that lead into the half.

WSU came out strong on defense to open the third quarter. On third down, Devin Pugh broke up a pass to force Cal Poly to punt. The Wildcats would score on the ensuing possession. Things got started for WSU on third down, when C.J. Tuckett cut up the middle for a first down and passed the 1,000-yard career rushing mark.

Following the first down, Hoke hit Xavian Johnson down the middle for a 46-yard gain, and then Tuckett took the ball in on a six-yard run to give WSU its second lead of the game.

Tuckett ran well for WSU, nearly racking up 100 yards in the game. He said the Wildcats had a good game plan going into the game, but were hurt by mistakes.

“The game plan was great,” Tuckett said. “We did some different things to open up the pass game and run game . . . But in football, if you make too many mistakes, you can’t win.”

On the following kick, a fight broke out on the left side of the field. Following the scuffle, WSU’s Johnson was hit with a personal foul and an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.

Cal Poly closed the door on WSU at the start of the fourth quarter, scoring on a 34-yard pass to put the Mustangs up by 18.

The Wildcats won many key statistical battles despite losing. WSU had more total first downs, more passing yards and more total offensive yards. Head Coach Jody Sears said having better stats is nice, but in the end doesn’t matter.

“Stats are awesome,” Sears said. “They’re great, but what’s the bottom line? What’s the score? That’s what matters.”

Now the Wildcats will head on the road to California, where they’ll face Sacramento State University, then they will stay on the road and face in-state rival Southern Utah University the following week.