The first quarter at Sonny Lubick Field at Hughes Stadium saw the Division I-AA Weber State Wildcats out gain the CSU football team.
“I was kind of worried that they may take the (stadium sign) down if we didn’t play very well,” said CSU head coach Sonny Lubick after the game.
Instead, the Rams offense caught stride in the second quarter and the defense carried a shutout late into the fourth quarter in a 31-7 CSU victory.
Lubick was pleased with his team’s play on the day, but said they need to work on eliminating big mistakes.
“There were about three or four, at least that many occasions in the game where when we go against a higher-quality opponent we can’t have that,” Lubick said.
Quarterback Bradlee Van Pelt threw three deep passes on the first drive of the game, two of which were incomplete and the third went off the hands of wide receiver Eric Hill into the hands of Weber State cornerback Julian Gooden. Van Pelt said the plan was to soften up Weber’s defense early, but it took some adjusting to a style of defense the Rams had not seen.
“I think I put the balls where I had to,” said Van Pelt, who completed 12 of 20 passes for 163 yards. “I can’t always throw a good ball.”
Weber out-gained the Rams 81 yards to 70 in the first half. A 29-yard touchdown burst by running back Rahsaan Sanders in the second quarter got the Rams rolling on offense. Sanders had a career high Saturday with 18 carries for 128 yards.
However, Sanders ended the first-half momentum with a fumble on the Weber State 10-yard line just before halftime. CSU was up 14-0 and driving for another score.
“I did like Rahsaan,” Lubick said. “I know he dropped one ball. It seems like you always remember the bad and never remember the good.”
Marcus Houston also had a solid day running the ball, running 18 times for 80 yards. Houston scored his first touchdown for the Rams on a grinding seven-yard run in the second quarter in which he broke four tackles.
“The offensive line did a good job on the goal line today,” Houston said. “When I get the chance, I just have to go out and make the most of it.”
Albert Bimper switched from guard to center to replace the injured Mark Dreyer. Senior Zeke Hacker replaced Bimper at guard. Weber State head coach Jerry Graybeal said he didn’t see a weakness in CSU’s offensive line.
“Their O-line is real solid,” Graybeal said. “They did a great job of getting those guys ready.”
Dreyer is expected to miss at least next week’s game against Miami (Ohio) after having surgery on his right finger.
CSU’s pass rush continued to impress, tallying three more sacks. Redshirt freshman cornerback Brandon Cathy saw a lot of playing time and got his first career interception.
“I’m happy for (Cathy),” said cornerback Dexter Wynn. “I told him, ‘you better not get a pick when they take me out,’ and sure enough, right when they took me out they threw to my side and he made a play on it.”
Wynn finally got a chance to have room to return punts. He made the most of it with four returns for 84 yards.
Chris Pittman had a big day receiving the ball, catching 7 passes for 111 yards. Pittman has topped 100 yards receiving in every game this year.
“We just gave (Pittman) too much room,” Graybeal said. “His speed really hurt us.”
CSU was ahead 28-0 after the fourth quarter and was able to use a lot of reserves in the fourth quarter. Quarterback Justin Holland was impressive, going 9-for-10 passing for 70 yards while playing a majority of the second half. Third-string quarterback Joey Kearney finished the game.
“Justin is a very capable quarterback and deserves to get in there,” Van Pelt said. “I’m a competitor and I don’t want to leave the game … but I’m more than happy to get (the backups) in there.”
Lubick said the defense did a good job but needs to make more plays against a Miami (Ohio) team that beat Northwestern 44-14 Saturday. Miami’s quarterback, Ben Rothlesberger, a Heisman candidate, threw for 353 yards and three touchdowns.
“Each game I see some improvement,” Lubick said. “(But) we cannot have those turnovers.”