Ogden • Weber State made a giant leap forward with its effort, execution and competitiveness Saturday.
It wasn’t quite enough.
Montana State quarterback DeNarius McGhee threw three touchdown passes and the fifth-ranked Bobcats survived a vastly improved effort by the Wildcats during a 34-16 victory at Stewart Stadium.
Weber State suffered its seventh straight loss. It had been outscored 302-41 in the previous six.
Against Montana State, however, the Wildcats rolled up a season-high 497 yards of offense and were in position to take the lead with 11 minutes left. But a turnover deep in Bobcat territory ended their hopes.
“I think you saw a lot of growth today,” said Weber State coach Jody Sears. “… There are no moral victories, but there were a lot of things out there that we can gain confidence from.”
Freshman quarterback Austin Chipoletti completed 26 of 38 passes for 309 yards against one of the top defenses in the Football Championship Subdivision.
“I just felt really comfortable in the pocket,” Chipoletti said. “… My O-line played a heck of a game. They were the reason we were in this game.”
Asked about Chipoletti’s performance, Sears said, “He’s growing up before our eyes. Four months ago, he was at the [high school] prom.”
The Wildcats trailed only 21-16 early in the fourth quarter and were driving for what would have been the go-ahead touchdown.
After moving from their own eight to the Montana State 22, however, senior running back Josh Booker had the ball pulled away from him as he hit the ground.
Weber State wanted the play called dead, but the officials ruled in favor of Montana State, which needed only four plays to the score the clinching touchdown on Shawn Johnson’s nine-yard run.
On the sideline, Sears was angry over call on the critical turnover. But after the game, he didn’t blame the officials.
“I didn’t see anything,” he said.
Did he get an explanation of the call?
“They said the ball came out,” Sears said.
Montana State improved its record to 5-2 overall and 3-0 in the Big Sky Conference after McGhee threw touchdown passes of 35, 35 and 26 yards.
Weber State, which hasn’t beaten the Bobcats in Ogden since 1996, dropped to 1-7 overall and 0-4 in the conference.
“What I saw was the kids playing like they practice,” Sears said. “I’m proud of them. … I think we saw a glimpse of things to come.”
O Montana State hands Weber State its seventh straight defeat, 34-16.
• The Wildcats outgain the Bobcats 497-479, but they commit 3 turnovers.
• Montana State quarterback DaNarius McGhee throws three TD passes.