Nothing seems to have changed between Northern Arizona (NAU) football and their in-state rivals. On Aug. 30, NAU went into Tucson and came away with a 35-0 defeat to the Arizona Wildcats.
The loss pushed the Lumberjacks’ record to 1-12 against the Cats. Add that to its struggles to Arizona State University, and the Lumberjacks just can’t seem to find a way to win one of these games.
NAU played fairly well in the first half against the Wildcats, only down 14-0 at the break. But the wheels seemed to fall off after halftime, starting with an interception by NAU’s sophomore quarterback Kyren Poe, resulting in a pick-six that put Arizona up by three scores. Poe finished the night with 176 yards and three picks in his first career start. Poe replaces former quarterback Cary Grossart, and beat out junior Chase Cartwright and sophomore Jordan Perry for the job.
The lone bright spot probably came from the defense. Sure, the score read 35-0, but let’s remember; one was a defensive score and Poe’s two other interceptions gave Arizona great field position. The negative aspect of the defense was the big plays they gave up. NAU surrendered rushing touchdowns of 91 and 61 yards. The 91-yarder came in the second quarter while the latter came late in the fourth with things well in hand.
When the night was finished, the defense gave up a total of 393 yards, which is pretty good against Arizona, and they only allowed 87 passing yards. Of course, with a good running game, there’s no need to pass. You take away Arizona’s two long runs, and the Wildcats would’ve only gained 141 yards on the ground.
Senior running back Zach Bauman led the Lumberjacks with 71 yards rushing. Bauman gained 99 in their previous matchup, and entered the season as the “star to watch” in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS). Not only is he seeking to become the ninth player in FCS history to rush for 1,000 yards four times, but he was named to the preseason list for the Walter Payton Award, which is the FCS “Heisman.” Bauman needs only 48 more yards to become the school’s all-time leading rusher. He’ll have a chance next week against UC-Davis.
All the Lumberjacks have to do now is to forget the Arizona game and move on to Davis, which will be a non-conference game despite Davis and NAU being members of the Big Sky Conference.
The Lumberjacks last year lost 63-6 to Arizona State, and then proceeded to win eight in a row, including an upset over UNLV. The 24th-ranked (FCS) Lumberjacks can do the same this year, in hopes of winning their first conference title and clinching their first playoff berth since 2003.