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Wildcats fall to Hornets in close game

Despite being close for much of the night, the Weber State University football team fell in its seventh loss of the season on Saturday night against California State University, Sacramento, losing 19-14.

Head Coach Jody Sears said he saw a lot of improvement in the team on Saturday and felt like it had a good game against the Hornets.

“We played with a lot of energy tonight and were very consistent as a team,” Sears said. “We had a couple of breakdowns, but there were a lot of positive things we can grow from. We have to take care of some silly mistakes, but I was pleased with our effort.”

The Wildcats struggled to establish a running game; the Hornet defense contained WSU’s running game early on, but WSU quarterback Mike Hoke passed the ball well in the first quarter. He completed four of his first five passes of the game.

Neither team was able to establish dominance early in the first quarter. WSU and CSUS were both forced to punt on their first two possessions of the game. Late in the first quarter, there were only 57 total yards of offense between the two teams.

WSU’s offense started clicking, though, and the Wildcats found the end zone on their third drive. Hoke engineered a long drive for the Wildcats, then C.J. Tuckett pounded the ball in from the 1-yard line to give the Wildcats the 7-0 lead.

The Wildcats dominated possession time in the first quarter and the start of the second quarter. They controlled the ball for much of the first quarter, while CSUS had possession for around three minutes and WSU had the ball for 15 during the first 18 minutes of the game. For much of the first half, WSU’s defense kept the Hornets off the field.

“Our defense came out with a lot of energy and attitude, and it showed up on the field,” said WSU defensive end Connor Meyers. “We made a lot of progress on defense this game and have to keep building on it. We have to keep grinding every day.”

Following WSU’s touchdown, the Hornets’ offense woke up, getting two quick first down and moving the ball into the Wildcats’ half of the field. The Wildcats’ defense stopped CSUS, however, when the Hornets went for it on fourth down inside the red zone.

Ezekiel Graham got CSUS’s first touchdown of the game late in the second quarter. Graham came out of the background, ran down the left side of the field and caught Garrett Safron’s pass in the end zone to tie the game. The teams went into the half tied at seven.

The Wildcats opened up the second half with a bit of trickery. WSU started the half with an onside kick; catching the Hornets off guard, WSU recovered it near midfield. The trick play proved fruitless, though; the Wildcats attempted a field goal that fell short.

Once again, WSU was hurt by two big plays in a row. First on fourth down, from their own 1-yard line, the Wildcats were preparing to punt. The ball was snapped out of the end zone for a safety. Then, on the ensuing punt by WSU, Graham got a big return, taking the ball into the red zone. However, the Wildcat defense came up big, holding CSUS to a field goal.

Following two quick turnovers, CSUS was facing a third down when it attempted a fake punt, which went for a first down, extending the Hornets’ drive. Following the fake punt, the Wildcats got the ball back on an ensuing fumble by the Hornets, capping off a sloppy period of play for both teams halfway through the fourth quarter.

The Hornets closed out the game on their next possession. CSUS went up 18-7 on a long touchdown pass by Safron to T.J. Knowles.

WSU scored again with four minutes left in the game. Hoke led the team down the field, getting to the red zone late in the game. On fourth down, Hoke snapped the ball and found Erik Walker on the right side of the field. Walker spun away from a would-be tackler and ran into the end zone to pull WSU within five points.

CSUS closed out the game on its next possession, sending WSU to its seventh-straight loss. Now the Wildcats will head to Cedar City next week to face in-state rival Southern Utah University.

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