Courtesy: Montana State Sports Information
A week after Montana State converted 12 of its 16 third downs into first downs during a road win at North Dakota, Weber State turned the tables on the Bobcats. The Wildcats finished 9-of-16 on third down conversion attempts, holding the Cats to 4-of-12.
"We had a hard time getting them off the field," said MSU sophomore Derek Marks, a defensive tackle who finished with six tackles, two for a loss, and one sack. "We just couldn't make the plays when we needed to."
The Wildcats turned their ability to extend drives into a possession time advantage of 40 minutes to 20, holding the ball for nearly 11-and-a-half minutes in turning two drives into touchdowns in the decisive third quarter. WSU quarterback Stefan Cantwell was brilliant all day, completing 20 of his 30 passes for 206 yards, but never more than when he was on the move. The senior rushed for 49 yards and a touchdown.
"They stayed on the field the whole third quarter, it seemed," said senior cornerback Bryce Alley. "We can't have that."
Montana State's Chris Murray, while not as efficient passing, was equally impactful for his offense. The sophomore rushed for 123 yards, the sixth of his young career and third in a row. He was 8-for-22 passing for 124 yards, throwing for one touchdown and catching one other.
Facing a nationally-ranked Weber State team renowned for getting off to fast starts in rolling to a 3-1 record, the Bobcats managed that themselves on Saturday. MSU marched 71 yards with the opening kickoff, and narrowly missed a touchdown when Cardon Malan made an open-field tackle as Murray was headed toward the end zone. That drive ended in a 24-yard Gabe Peppenger field goal. MSU's second drive stalled at the WSU 16, and ended in a missed field goal.
Weber State tied the score early in the second quarter on a 28-yard Trey Tuttle field goal, then took the lead when Tuttle connected on a 21-yarder midway through that period. Tuttle put Weber up 9-3 with 37 seconds remaining in the first half, but as rain began to fall MSU found lightning in a bottle. Narrowly missing on a long pass attempt to Jabarri Johnson with under 20 seconds to play, the Bobcats caught Weber napping. MSU hurried to the line of scrimmage before WSU's defense was aligned, and Murray found Lance McCutcheon wide open for a 64-yard touchdown.
The Bobcats had chances after Weber's third quarter keepaway act. After Murray extended an early fourth-quarter drive with a 11-yard run on third-and-10, Murray threw a lateral to Kevin Kassis, who tossed the ball back to Murray for a 25-yard touchdown pass. A Tuttle field goal punched Weber State's lead out to 25-17, and MSU failed to pass midfield on its final drive.
The Bobcats came through their brutal season-opening gauntlet of four consecutive nationally-ranked opponents with a 1-3 record, and stand 1-1 in Big Sky play. Weber State is 4-1 overall, 2-0 in the league.