Ogden • Weber State quarterback Jake Constantine faced a long weekend of stewing about the two second-half interceptions he threw in North Dakota territory, but he ran away from those worries.
With a motivational strategy he described as “running super mad,” Constantine's 30-yard scramble, followed by his designed run for a 12-yard touchdown, pulled the Wildcats into a tie late in the fourth Saturday afternoon at Stewart Stadium. And after Weber State's Aaron Sessions recovered a fumble on the kickoff, Trey Tuttle kicked a 32-yard field goal with 31 seconds remaining, giving the Wildcats a 30-27 victory.
There's more to the story, though. North Dakota quarterback Nate Ketteringham, who had passed for 304 yards and three touchdowns, barely overthrew an open receiver, running toward the end zone. The Wildcats then had to knock away a pass launched from midfield on the final play.
“It was scary, for sure,” said WSU defensive back Preston Smith.
But the Wildcats (8-2, 6-0 Big Sky) survived, preserving their No. 3 FCS ranking. The win counted for them in the conference standings, even though No. 22 North Dakota is playing this year as an FCS independent and joining the Missouri Valley Conference in 2020.
Weber State could have lost Saturday and still won the conference title by winning next Saturday at Montana and at home Nov. 23 vs. Idaho State. The Fighting Hawks (5-4) really needed an upset to boost their FCS playoff credentials, and they played that way.
“That's what I love about this level: Every game means so much,” Wildcat coach Jay Hill said.
North Dakota moved ahead 24-20 by scoring on the opening drive of the third quarter, and then linebacker Donnell Rodgers and defensive back Hayden Galvin each picked off Constantine, when the Wildcats were driving.
“I was pretty frustrated with myself,” said Constantine, who blamed himself for a poor throw toward an open receiver on the first interception and a case of “me trying to be way too greedy” on the other.
His chance for redemption came after Brady Leach's 34-yard field goal extended the Hawks' lead to 27-20 with 7:04 left. The Wildcats had not produced a touchdown since the middle of the first quarter (after Constantine's two TD passes) and were scoreless in the second half, but they put together a tying drive.
Constantine hit David Ames for 16 yards and Devin Cooley for 10, then scrambled for 30 yards to the UND 17. The Wildcats reached the 7 on two runs by Kevin Smith, whose 104-yard day came after WSU star Josh Davis (concussion protocol) left the game during the opening drive. After a penalty, Constantine ran up the middle to the end zone. Tuttle's extra point made it 27-27 with 2:49 remaining.
The Wildcats, who lead the FCS in turnover margin, then got their only takeaway of the day. A giveaway is a better description, as the kickoff bounced off the chest of the Hawks' Brock Boltmann at the goal line. The ball bounced forward, and Sessions grabbed it at the UND 7.
The Wildcats were penalized for sideline interference during the play, so they took over at the 22. After three runs, with the Hawks out of timeouts, Tuttle kicked the game winner.
Tuttle had failed to roll the ball the required 10 yards on an onside-kick attempt that otherwise would have worked in the second quarter, with the Wildcats leading 17-7. UND capitalized with a short touchdown drive. This time, Tuttle kick’s was plenty long and right through the goalposts.
• Weber State, ranked No. 3 in the FCS, scores 10 points in the last three minutes of a 30-27 victory over North Dakota on Saturday in front of 9,622 fans at Stewart Stadium.
• The win counts for the Wildcats in the Big Sky Conference standings, even though North Dakota is an FCS independent.
• Weber State (8-2, 6-0 Big Sky) plays next Saturday at Montana (8-2. 5-1).