Ogden • Weber State found itself down 20 points against Northern Arizona on Saturday.
Late in the first half, the host Wildcats hadn't ever really stopped the Lumberjacks' offense and hopes of a rally depended on a Weber offense, whose rushing attack was held to 64 yards, that was forced to go to the air.
Those trends continued through the game as the Lumberjacks took a 33-20 victory to knock Weber State (5-4, 4-2) out of contention for a Big Sky championship.
"If we're going to do that often, that's not going to turn out well for us," said Weber State coach Jay Hill on the team playing from behind. "Slow starts in our last two games have been our Achilles' heel. We've got to go out and start like we did against Montana State [a 45-27 win] and we didn't do that today,"
The Wildcats successfully came back to within final striking range, mostly due to the passing of quarterback Jadrian Clark. While the running game grew ever-inactive down the stretch, Clark threw for 302 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Even so, Clark shifted the blame to himself afterward.
"We just stuttered, we've got to do better — I put that on myself," he said.
With 5:47 remaining, and down 26-14, Weber scored on a one-yard run by Treshawn Garrett. After missing a two-point conversion try, the Wildcats trailed by six points.
Northern Arizona (5-4, 4-2), however, wasted little time in putting a nail in the coffin.
While the Lumberjacks' offense mostly went conservative through the second half, and 12 of the visitors' points had come through field goals, Northern Arizona reverted to early game form after Weber made the score 26-20.
A quick 14-yard completition from Blake Kemp to Elijah Marks showed the Lumberjacks' intentions. On the next play, running back Kendyl Taylor lined up in a Wildcat formation, took the snap and raced 61 yards for the last touchdown of the game.
"We gave up the 17-0 start and it's hard to come back from that against a good team," said Wildcats senior linebacker Tre'von Johnson of the score after Kemp hit Taylor for a 15-yard TD early in the second quarter.
"We can't come out without energy and lethargic like we did today," Johnson added. "Teams our good in this league. We've got to come back Monday with some resolve and watch the film for Cal Poly."
Kemp finished with 357 yards passing for Northern Arizona with many of his early throws going to wideout Emmanuel Butler — who scorched the Weber secondary for 157 yards on nine receptions.
"I didn't think we matched their toughness or execution early in the game," Hill said. "We've got to do a much better job as defensive coaches getting them ready to play.
"The offense did a lot of good things today. There were times they moved down the field and made some huge conversions," he added. "Late in the game, got us back in it, and we give up a huge run."