Weber State runs over Dixie State in 41-3 win on the road

Rashid Shaheed for Weber State football against Northern Arizona, Saturday, March 27, 2021 in Ogden.

Rashid Shaheed for Weber State football against Northern Arizona, Saturday, March 27, 2021 in Ogden. (Robert Casey, Weber State Athletics)

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ST. GEORGE β€” The football game in Provo wasn't the only game of the night featuring two in-state opponents. Weber State traveled down to St. George to take on Dixie State for just the second time in program history.

In the Wildcats' 40-17 loss to then-No. 24 Utah during the first week of the season, the Utes' strong defense held Weber to just 57 total rushing yards. But Weber made sure on the first drive of the night that their run game was not going to be contained again.

In a quick four plays, the Wildcats ran for 63 yards β€” more than they had in total the previous week β€” and converted their first touchdown in less than two minutes into the game on a 52-yard run by redshirt freshman Dontae McMillan.

Even without the presence of two-time All-American running back Josh Davis, the run game proved to be too much for Dixie State, and the Wildcats ran away with a 41-3 victory β€” their first of the season.

In what proved to be a defensive battle in the first half, Weber managed to escape with a 14-3 lead in a successful last-minute drive.

With 32 seconds left in the half, junior cornerback Marque Collins intercepted Kody Wilstead's pass, giving Weber perfect field position at the Trailblazers' 36-yard line. After retrieving the ball, the Wildcats' first play of the drive almost resulted in an interception of their own, but the team was saved by a pass interference call against Dixie States' Malaki Malaki.

With the second chance opportunity and only six seconds remaining in the half, true freshman Bronson Barron barely got a pass away before getting tackled. The ball found wide receiver Ty Macpherson standing alone in the end zone for a 32-yard touchdown.

Barron, the 6-foot-3 American Fork native, finished the game 10-of-20 passing for 90 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions before leaving the game with an injury at the 12:10 mark in the third quarter following a 5-yard run to a first down.

The Trailblazers made Barron uncomfortable in the pocket, putting pressure on each of his throws; but in the two quarters played by the freshman, he showed his strength by navigating his way through the defense, proving almost impossible to sack.

Following Barron's exit, backup quarterback Randall Johnson came into the game and made an immediate impact, leading the Wildcats to an 80-yard drive that was capped off by a 3-yard touchdown rush from Kris Jackson. The possession, however, was highlighted by a perfectly executed fake punt on fourth-and-6 by Mackenzie Morgan, who found 280-pound lineman Doug Schiess streaking down the middle of the field for a 25-yard gain and first down.

From there, the Wildcats grew its lead and were in a comfortable position that allowed four different quarterbacks to take snaps during the game and eight different players to take part in the forceful run game. McMillan led the team with a career high 151 yards on 16 carries.

Weber State ran for a superb 280 yards and tacked on four rushing touchdowns β€” two coming from true freshman Damon Bankston β€” while the Wildcats' defense held the Trailblazers to just 92 rushing yards and a field goal in the first quarter.

Rushing yards weren't the only stat the Wildcat's dominated in, either. Weber State collected 24 first downs to the Trailblazers' 10, tallied 217 receiving yards to 161 and converted on eight third-down opportunities to Dixie's two.

In the assertive win, three-time All-American Rashid Shaheed collected 136 all-purpose yards β€” 86 coming from kickoff returns β€” moving him to fifth in Weber State's all-time record book. Defensive end George Tarlas also added a sack, which moved him into the top 10 of Weber State's all-time leaders in sacks. Head coach Jay Hill also earned his 53rd career win at Weber State, tying Dave Arslanian for most wins in program history.

After going splitting the first two road games to start the season, the Wildcats will return home to Ogden Saturday in what will be an FCS showdown against No. 3 James Madison.

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