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OGDEN — For Weber State University football coach Ron McBride, 34-31 is a special score.
As the coach of the University of Utah, he twice beat Brigham Young University by that score, and on Saturday, in his final home game as a coach, Weber State knocked off Northern Arizona University by the same score.
McBride said the significance of the score wasn’t something he realized at first.
“Brian Rolle was over on the sideline and he came over to me and said, ‘If you score here and get the extra point, do you know what the score’s going to be? 34-31,’” McBride said. “I said, ‘You’ve got to be (expletive) me.’ He said, ‘It’s going to happen.’”
In a cold and snowy game, WSU running back C.J. Tuckett heated up the WSU offense by rushing for the 254 and racking up 407 all-purpose yards, which is the most in school.
Tuckett said that he has been waiting for his chance to show what he can do on the field, and felt lucky to get that opportunity.
“I was able to get the opportunity and capitalize on it,” Tuckett said.
On the first play from scrimmage, Tuckett broke a 49-yard run down the right side of the field. A few plays later, Tuckett scampered in for the first touchdown of the game. He took the ball up the middle and gave the Wildcats the early 6-0 lead. The point-after attempt was blocked.
Following the touchdown, it was WSU’s defense time to shine. On fourth down, Caldwell Taylor blocked the NAU punt. It was his third blocked punt of the year.
The Lumberjacks took their first lead of the game at the end of the first half on a catch in the back of the end zone by Dejzon Walker to make it 7-6.
Tuckett had a big first half for the Wildcats, racking up more than 100 yards.
Early in the second quarter, he broke a big run, which set up WSU’s second touchdown of the game. Weber State quarterback Hoke completed a pass to Chase Nakamura, who took the ball into the end zone to give the ’Cats the lead again at 12-7.
Halfway through the second half, play was stopped following an injury to WSU linebacker Mo Neal after he collided with another WSU player. He remained motionless on the field for a long time. He was taken off the field on a stretcher and taken to the hospital for further evaluation.
The Lumberjacks drove down the field and scored with a 28-yard field goal to cut the lead at 12-10.
It looked like that would be the score at the half, but WSU had something else in mind.
With 23 seconds left, Tuckett took the ball 45 yards for another WSU touchdown, making it 19-10 at the half. In the first half, Tuckett rushed for 159 yards and two touchdowns.
Late in the fourth quarter, NAU retook the lead on a nine-yard touchdown run by Bauman to make the score 31-27 with 1:36 remaining.
Tuckett started the WSU drive with a big kick return, taking the ball near midfield. Then Eric Shufford caught a pass across the middle and took it to the NAU 20-yard line, giving WSU a chance to win.
The Wildcats found pay dirt a few plays later when Mike Hoke faked a handoff and walked into the end zone to retake the lead at 34-31 with 26 seconds remaining.
Hoke said the players had a good feeling as they drove down the field on their game-winning drive.
“It was real calm, actually,” Hoke said. “It was calmer than our previous two-minute drives. I think, as an offense, we wanted to get the ball back and have the opportunity to win.”
In a wild final play, NAU completed a pass and a series of laterals, taking the ball down the field before they were finally stopped short of the goal line.
“We wanted to carry him off the field,” Nick Webb said. “It was almost like a ‘Rudy’ moment.”
Nathan Davis is the sports editor for The Signpost at Weber State University. You can follow him on Twitter @NathanD3