The Idaho State Bengals didn’t have anything but pride to play for Saturday afternoon as the team took on the Weber State Wildcats at Holt Arena.
The Bengals had an opportunity to knock rival Weber State out of the FCS playoff picture with a win and were leading at halftime but in the end, fell 34-28.
The Wildcats (7-4), remain on the bubble for a playoff spot as they rounded up 544 yards of total offense as the Bengals (2-9) have now surrendered over 500 yards in each of the last three weeks.
“I thought we fought today,” said senior linebacker Jake Pettit. “It sucks that we lost. I played as hard as I could and I know that everybody around me played as hard as they could.”
ISU lead 21-17 at halftime but a Weber State fake punt shifted the momentum in the Wildcats favor.
The third quarter stop would have been the second consecutive defensive hold by ISU. Instead, Weber State punter Jacob DeMaio pulled the ball down, picked up the first-down and ran for an extra 16 yards.
One play later, Weber State quarterback found Jadrian Clark found wide receiver Andrew Vollert for a 46-yard score. The 22-yard fake punt and the 46-yard touchdown gave Weber State the lead, something ISU would not have for the rest of the game.
“Was it only 22? It seemed like 222,” Head Coach Mike Kramer said. “I think it was huge because we came up with a third quarter stop and you know how rare those are for us.”
ISU responded with a drive of its own but it came to a screeching halt when running back Jakori Ford fumbled the ball on a draw play where he ripped off 14 yards before losing the rock.
“When offensively we couldn’t respond to that play was when it got a little uphill on us,” Kramer said.
Weber State added another touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter, when Clark uncorked a 48-yard bomb, that found Drew Batchelor in the end zone. The toss was Clark’s third touchdown of the afternoon and the touchdown put Weber State up 17, a deficit that proved too much to overcome.
After missing last week with an injury, quarterback Tanner Gueller returned to the offense after senior Trae Pilster, who started last week at Eastern Washington, took the first two snaps of the game as part of Senior Day.
Gueller threw for three touchdowns, completing 30 of his 49 throws, for 362 yards.
“You have to have a good quarterback in this conference,” Kramer said on his redshirt sophomore quarterback. “I think we have a great one. He is a sophomore and he will be playing well as a junior.”
Tanner Gueller found his older brother, Mitch Gueller, ten times for 187 yards including a 75-yard hook up where Mitch Gueller caught the ball in tight man coverage, tip-toed his way down the sideline and eluded two Wildcat defenders.
“We saw a lot of man-to-man,” Tanner Gueller said. “Our skill guys did a good job of beating them.”
ISU ran the ball 14 times, as a banged up ISU backfield only managed 80 yards on the ground on 14 total carries. Four different running backs have sprained ankles, but still played through the pain, including Ford who scored a nine-yard touchdown in the first quarter on his bad ankle.
“That is why we didn’t run the ball,” Kramer said. “It is uphill for us especially with our young offensive front.”
Tate Razor saw an increased roll due to injury. The redshirt sophomore sacked Clark three times and may represent something positive to look forward to next season.
“We have a lot of good talent,” Tanner Gueller said. “We are looking forward to getting back out there already. Let’s get spring ball rolling.”
ISU will move on from its second consecutive 2-9 season, after going 8-4 in 2014.
“Next year starts now,” Razor said.
Weber State: 14 3 7 10 – 34
Idaho State: 7 14 0 7 – 28
PASSING: ISU: T. Gueller 30-49-3 – 362
WSU: Clark: 22-33-2 – 318
RUSHING: ISU: Ford 5-43-1, T. Gueller 5-25, Dean 3-11, Flanagan 1-2 – 80
WSU: Moimoi 15-101-1, Pooler 6-44, Garrett 10-45-1, DeMaio 1-22 – 226
RECEIVING: ISU: M. Gueller 10-187-1, Williams 8-86, Dean 6-4, Graves 2-46
WSU: Batchelor 6-108-1, Vollert 6-90-1, Denby 5-60, Satuala 3-49