OGDEN, Utah — When Weber State kicker Shaun McClain opened Cal Poly’s 45-23 win with a 22-yard field goal, it was the first of several Wildcats firsts this season.
It was the first time Weber State had scored on its opening drive. It was the first time the Wildcats scored before the opponent. It was the only time the Wildcats (0-6, 0-3 Big Sky Conference) had scored in the first quarter — period.
In five previous games, all Weber State losses, opponents had outscored the Wildcats 41-0 in the first quarter. A week ago, Weber State fell behind UC Davis 31-0 in the first half.
But just when it looked like the Wildcats were filing a patent for slow starts, they dominated the first quarter against Cal Poly.
McClain added a 46-yard field goal after Cal Poly went three and out on its first possession, and Weber State led 6-0 with 2:53 left in the first.
It was the first time Cal Poly had been shut out in the first all season. The Mustangs had secured 14-0 leads in each of their previous two road games, a 24-22 victory over FBS program Wyoming and last week’s 35-17 victory at North Dakota.
TRICK PLAY OPENS DOOR
Despite being essentially dominated for the first quarter, Cal Poly wasn’t down for long.
After the Mustangs offense appeared ineffective, Weber State gave them a huge boost when a failed fake punt provided ideal field position for Cal Poly.
On fourth-and-6 from their own 29-yard line, the Wildcats called for punter Tony Epperson to roll out for a pass out of the punt formation.
Epperson rolled left and threw incomplete to Jordan Clemente, who had some open space but was bracketed long and short by Mustangs defenders.
The pass fell incomplete out of Clemente’s hands, and Cal Poly took over just 9 yards away from the red zone.
Just two plays later, Mustangs quarterback Andre Broadous hit running back Kristaan Ivory on a short screen pass, and Ivory found a block, cut to the middle and outran the defense for a 30-yard touchdown catch that gave Cal Poly a 7-6 lead with 11:06 left in the half.
Weber State came right back to score a touchdown, but the Mustangs had already found some life after the head-scratching trick punt play.
Broadous hit fullback Brandon Howe on a play-action pass for an 8-yard touchdown, and Cal Poly took a 14-13 halftime lead.
After Mustangs fullback Akaninyene Umoh was forced to sit out with an injury he suffered at practice this week and slotback Cole Stanford was a game-time decision with another injury, Cal Poly had a couple more scares.
Senior linebacker Kennith Jackson, the Mustangs’ leading tackler, stayed down after making a stop on an inside run in the first quarter.
Later in the second quarter, senior running back Deonte Williams, the fifth-leading rusher in the FCS at 152.3 yards per game coming in, limped off the field with what appeared to be an ankle injury.
Though the extent of the injuries was unknown during the game, both were able to return.
Jackson came back on the following Weber State drive, and Williams was back in the starting lineup to open the second half.