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After a rough first half, which saw Weber State University give up three quick touchdowns, the Wildcats put together a strong second half against California State University, Fresno, but were unable to leave with a win.
The Wildcats lost their opening game of the year 37-10 on Saturday night in Fresno, Calif.
“I thought we played extremely hard, and I was really proud of our effort and intensity,” said WSU Head Coach Jody Sears. “I thought we were a little tentative on defense early on, but we started to settle down and made some adjustments and played better. Fresno State is a really talented team, and they played a great game.”
WSU athletic director Jerry Bovee said having the team play tough teams in unfriendly conditions will ultimately be good for them.
On the Wildcats’ first possession, Mike Hoke got the offense moving, completing a 29-yard pass to Brian Jankowski to take the ball into Fresno’s territory, but the ’Cats were unable to convert on the drive and were forced to punt.
The Bulldogs’ first drive started deep in their own territory, but they linked together an 11-play drive, which resulted in the first points of the game. Derek Carr completed a 27-yard pass to Davante Adams to cap off the Bulldogs’ opening drive.
In the first quarter, the Wildcats struggled to slow the Fresno offense, which ran a no-huddle offense and quickly moved the ball down the field on their first two possessions. Two minutes after their opening touchdown, the Bulldogs found the end zone again, this time off of a two-yard run by Robbie Rouse.
On Fresno’s third possession, it once again capped off a quick drive with a touchdown. Rouse scampered into the end zone for his second touchdown of the half.
WSU’s offense made its deepest penetration into Bulldog territory with 12 minutes left in the half. Hoke completed a pass to Jordan Clemente for 16 yards to take the ball to Fresno’s 41-yard line for a first down. On the subsequent third down, Hoke scrambled on a broken play and was tackled short of the first down, but WSU was awarded a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty to keep the drive alive.
Sean McClain came on to attempt a field goal with 9:30 left in the half and converted a 40-yard kick for WSU’s first points of the half.
Hoke had a strong first half, completing his first 10 passes, despite the fact that WSU was unable to score a touchdown in the opening half.
At the break, Fresno had a 24-3 lead. Carr led the Bulldogs with 215 yards passing in the first half and one touchdown.
WSU looked better at the start of the second half, forcing Fresno to punt, and then quickly converting a first down with a 12-yard pass to Jankowski. On the fourth down, the Wildcats decided to go for it, needing one yard for the first down. C.J. Tuckett was able to break through the line to keep WSU’s drive alive.
Clemente said the team made some changes at the half and was able to be more competitive in the second half against a good Fresno team.
“We were able to make some adjustments after the start and were able to get more comfortable with our offense,” Clemente said. “There were a lot of things we can learn from this game, and Fresno State was a really strong and fast team.”
On third and 19, on Fresno’s 36-yard line, Hoke found Shaydon Kehano, who cut past a defender and found the end zone to cut the score to 24-10 early in the third quarter.
The Wildcats were able to stop Fresno’s offense a second time in a row and looked more comfortable after halftime. After regaining control of the ball, WSU linked together three quick first downs, but was forced to punt.
In the fourth quarter, the Wildcats had momentum on their side until Hoke threw an interception on a fourth down attempt, giving Fresno the ball in WSU’s half of the field. Carr made WSU pay, throwing his second touchdown pass and giving the Bulldogs a 30-10 lead. WSU would be unable to recover.
WSU will now travel to Provo and take on Brigham Young University next Saturday.