Courtesy: Montana State Sports Information
Box Score Weber State's start was quick and decisive.
"They came out and did exactly what we knew they were going to do," said senior running back Gunnar Brekke. "They punched us in the mouth."
Montana State never recovered from being bloodied early, falling to the Wildcats 45-27 in Stewart Stadium on Saturday. The win was WSU's fourth straight (4-2, 3-0 Big Sky), handing MSU its fourth straight loss (2-5, 0-4 Big Sky).
"We did not bring the type of energy we need to bring against a very good team," said Bobcat coach Jeff Choate, "and I accept full responsibility for that."
Choate fingered two key moments in the game. "We fumbled the ball (at the Bobcat 30) on an option flip, they go down and score," he said. "They kick off, literally four plays later they've got the ball on almost the exact same spot and I think the dam broke open at that point."
That series of events – an 11-play scoring drive on Weber State's initial possession followed by two MSU turnovers that were turned into points cast the game's result early. The Bobcats essentially matched the Wildcats from that point, but Weber's quick start spelled Montana State's doom.
Brekke agreed with Choate's assessment that a lack of energy at the outset proved critical. "It was obvious when they came out and scored three touchdowns on us real quick," he said. "That's unacceptable."
The Wildcats' dominance showed in the statistics. Weber State accumulated 27 first downs, 20 in the first half. The home team scored 42 points before the intermission, third-most by a Bobcat opponent since those records became available 60 years ago. Jadrian Clark threw for four touchdowns and 266 yards.
Chris Murray, making his first start for the Cats, rushed for 131 yards and thre for 199 more, and three touchdowns. Khari Garcia logged 10 tackles for MSU, and Woody Brandom had two tackles for loss and a sack to lead a Bobcat defense that spent 37 minutes on the field.
After a promising Bobcat drive stalled on the opening possession, Weber State marched 79 yards and opened the scoring on an 18 yard pass from Jadrian Clark to Cam Livingston. The drive covered 5:47. On MSU's next drive, the floodgates opened.
On the third play of the drive, Chris Murray's bad pitch to Gunnar Brekke resulted in a turnover, and Weber State scored four plays later. Cory Thomson caught a five-yarder from Clark. On the kickoff,Logan Jones fumbled and Weber State recovered at the Bobcat 26-yard line. It took two plays for Clark to connect with Livingston, and Weber State led 21-0 with 10-and-a-half minutes elapsed.
The Cats lit their side of the scoreboard seven plays later, quarterback Chris Murray, in his first start, connected with Gunnar Brekke on a swing pass to the right and Brekke scampered in 39 yards for the touchdown. Chad Newell rushed for 18 yards on the drive, Murray for 13.
The euphoria was short-lived. Weber State marched 67 yards for a touchdown to go ahead 28-7, but the Cats countered when Murray found Jayshawn Gates for a 14-yard touchdown to draw MSU with 28-14. But the Wildcats tacked on a pair of late touchdowns to close the first half.
Choate said the upcoming days and weeks will reveal much about his team. "We'll see who wants to be a part of this thing going forward."
The Cats host Eastern Washington next week.