OGDEN — The first throw Kaden Jenks threw was a 73-yard touchdown pass to Rashid Shaheed.
That throw set the tone for the game, and for Weber State as the fifth-ranked Wildcats never looked back Saturday night en route to a 29-17 win over No. 9 Northern Iowa at Stewart Stadium.
"We were thinking all week and we knew from film study and the coaches put together a great plan," Jenks said. "We were able to come out and execute. Rashid ran a great route, I just had the throw the ball to him."
It was, in many ways, a complete performance in a top-rated home game, a chance to put on a show against another opponent ranked in the FCS top 25 to Ogden. And the Wildcats took advantage.
"I thought that was as good of a first half that we played against a big time opponent" Weber State coach Jay Hill said. "Offense was outstanding, 42 plays, 284 yards, in the first half. They looked like I thought they would look."
After Jenks connected with Shaheed, it was only a few moments later that Aaron Session forced a Northern Iowa fumble that was recovered by John Abercrombie. A 25-yard field goal put the Wildcats up, 10-0 with 9:58 left in the first half.
Northern Iowa couldn’t catch any breaks in the first half. A tipped ball led to a Brady Burke interception that would soon turn into more points for the Wildcats.
Kris Jackson scored on a 2-yard touchdown run and a made point-after kick to put the Wildcats up, 17-0 and the first quarter wasn't even over yet.
Northern Iowa found some offense, but a field goal would be the only points they would score in the first quarter. A broken up pass by Northern Iowa would stop the attack of the Wildcats and would also limit them to a field-goal try.
Weber State led 20-3 at the end of the first.
The defense forced Northern Iowa to a three-and-out and the Wildcats offense would capitalize once again. Justin Malone caught a 13-yard touchdown pass from Jenks to put the Wildcats up, 27-3.
Northern Iowa finally found some momentum towards the end of the second quarter when Will McElvain threw a 37-yard touchdown pass to Isaiah Weston to give the Wildcats a 27-10 halftime lead.
The Wildcats became more conservative on offense as the weather changed. It started pouring rain, and lightning was spotted within 12 miles of the stadium.
"When it starts sprinkling and raining … you're up 19 points, don't do something stupid on a team like that," Hill said. "You guys know my personality; I'm not a conservative guy, but I'm not going to do something dumb and lose the game in those situations either. Turn it over three or four times in the second half because you're trying to throttle a team by 42 points, that's not the way you should do it."
The Wildcats were limited to just 1 yard of total offense in the second half.
But the defense added a safety for 2 points and a comfortable 29-10 advantage in the third quarter.
Northern Iowa would show life with 4:04 remaining in the game when Jaylin James caught a 2-yard touchdown pass, but it wasn’t enough as they would lose to the Wildcats, 29-17.
Weber State opens Big Sky play on the road against Idaho next Saturday. Kickoff is scheduled for 3 p.m. MT.
Carra McManamon is a native of Washington State and is attending the University of Utah. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter: @curramac22