Weber State Edges Football Bears 26-21 in Front of National Television Audience
Sept. 28, 2006
OGDEN, Utah - The nation was introduced to a hard-playing 2006 University of Northern Colorado football team on Thursday night, but the Bears were not able to bring home a win, falling 26-21 to the Weber State Wildcats in Big Sky Conference action on ESPN-U.
Turnovers were once again Northern Colorado's (1-4, 0-2 Big Sky) Achilles heel, as the Bears gave the ball away three times in the first half, which turned into 13 Weber State (2-3, 1-1 Big Sky) points.
The Bears put themselves in a tough situation at the start of the game. After the defense held Weber State to a 3-and-out on its first possession, Bears junior Aaron Henderson fumbled the punt, giving the ball back to the Wildcats. WSU senior running back Marky Filipe rumbled 27 yards two plays later on a counter play and made three Northern Colorado defenders miss en route to a touchdown. Weber State sophomore placekicker Conor Foley's missed extra point attempt made the score 6-0.
Junior quarterback Dominic Breazeale put the ball in the hands of the Wildcats again on the Bears' first offensive drive, throwing an interception to WSU senior Tyler DeBry on a pass that was intended for Northern Colorado sophomore wide receiver Brian Barmann; that put Weber State deep into Northern Colorado territory. But the Bears defense held tight, forcing WSU to another 3-and-out. Foley continued his kicking troubles, as his 38-yard field goal attempt went wide right.
The turnover troubles did not leave the Bears. After sophomore linebacker Cristian Sarmento recovered a WSU fumble on a punt return, it looked as if Northern Colorado was primed to put some points on the board. Facing a third-and-13, Breazeale slung a 14-yard pass to senior wide receiver Zac Carlson for a first down. On the next play, Bears senior running back Andre Wilson bobbled on a handoff exchange with sophomore running back Patrick Ealy in what was developing as a reverse.
The Wildcats made Northern Colorado pay once again, as WSU senior quarterback Shawn Woods launched a 67-yard touchdown pass to redshirt-freshman wide receiver Tim Toone. Weber State failed on a two-point conversion attempt, and the game was in the Wildcats' favor 12-0 with 4:05 left in the first quarter.
WSU drove the field again late in the first quarter and early into the second, but the Bears defense stayed tough in the trenches and forced a Weber fourth down. Foley went wide right once again on his 37-yard field goal attempt to keep the score at 12-0.
After a mostly uneventful second quarter, the Wildcats got another touchdown in just before halftime when WSU senior quarterback Shawn Woods tossed a pass to sophomore wide receiver Bryant Eteuati, who juked Bears defenders and scampered 33-yards into the end zone. Weber State went into the half with a 19-0 advantage.
The mistakes followed the Bears into the beginning of the second half. After Ealy gained a first down on a reverse at midfield, Breazeale through into double coverage and was intercepted by WSU safety Ty Sparrow. But the Wildcats could not take advantage of the miscue, as senior safety Jason Hildenbrand made a clutch interception on the next play at the Bears' 10-yard line.
In the next series, Northern Colorado tried to change the tide as redshirt-freshman Brian Wiedeman was brought into the game with just over 11 minutes left in the third quarter. But WSU spoiled Wiedeman's entry into the game, as the Bears went 3-and-out.
The Bears clawed back with 4:00 left in the third quarter when Ealy broke a 27-yard touchdown run into the end zone on a reverse. The drive was kept alive when sophomore wide receiver T.J. Swanson returned to his quarterback roots on a wide receiver rollout pass play and gunned a 26-yard pass to freshman wide receiver Cory Fauver, allowing Northern Colorado to pull within 19-7.
But Smith came back to hound the Bears again, as he extended Weber State's lead to 26-7 with 12:26 remaining in the game when he cut it back on a counter and ran it in from 34 yards out.
Northern Colorado still had fight left in them. Breazeale punched it in with 8:01 left in the game on a naked bootleg from three yards out to make it 26-14. The drive lasted 10 plays and 66 yards.
Just when the game seemed out of reach, Northern Colorado put the pressure on. Breazeale was faced with a third-and-long when he fired a first down strike to Swanson that put the Bears down to the WSU 3-yard line. Moments later, Wilson made it to the outside and reached over the pylon for a touchdown to pull the Bears to within 26-21.
The Bears were able to keep the momentum going when they recovered an onside kick on the next play. Northern Colorado looked as if it had a shot to grab the go-ahead score when Breazeale threw a nine-yard pass to Ealy on fourth-and-4, but the play was called back on an offensive pass interference penalty. The Wildcats closed the door on the Bears on the next play, as they forced an incomplete Breazeale pass.
Wilson had his second consecutive strong game, rushing for 135 yards and a touchdown. Ealy also scored a touchdown and gained 57 yards on the ground while also catching three passes for 31 yards. Breazeale finished the game 9-for-18 for 98 yards.
Joe Kenney had 13 tackles (9 solo) to lead the Bears while Sarmento contributed 12 tackles (including two for loss), a sack and a forced fumble and recovery.
Northern Colorado returns to action next Saturday (Oct. 7) when they host their first-ever Big Sky Conference game. The Bears will host Idaho State at 1:35 p.m. The game will be aired on Altitude Sports & Entertainment Televison.