Football posts blowout before Big Sky play
By Devontae Browne
NAU football opened its home schedule against the under-matched Fort Lewis College at the Walkup Sky Dome, and finished its non-conference schedule with a 69–0 shut-out. From the first play of the game to the final whistle, the Jacks played fast and finished strong.
“We wanted to come out fast; being able to score on the first play,” said junior running back ZachBauman. “The o-line created the hole for me to run through; they make my job easier.”
Bauman set the tone of the contest early when he scored on the opening play, going 75-yards to the end zone. The scoring drive consisted of one play that put NAU on the board after 11 seconds of the first quarter.
The Lumberjacks scored five times in the initial stanza. Bauman added another touchdown run while accumulating 136 yards on five attempts before leaving the game. Following the game-winning kick against the University Of Nevada-Las Vegas the week prior, junior kicker Andy Wilder hit both of his field goals. Senior wide receiver and punt returner Austin Shanks returned a 74-yard punt for a touchdown, scoring on returns in back-to-back games, as a final exclamation point to the first quarter. At the end of the quarter, the Jacks led the Skyhawks 27–0.
“Our special teams coach [David Reeves] sets up great schemes for us. I only need a few yards and just have to hit the seam,” Shanks said. “I just listen to what my coaches tell me. He sets up a great plan for us, where I need to be on the field and watching film on teams.”
The Lumberjacks added 21 more points in the second quarter. Senior running back Covaughn Deboskie-Johnson ran for a touchdown and caught another, while sophomore quarterback Chase Cartwright connected with junior wide receiver Ify Umodu in the back of the end zone for a score. The Jacks were up at the end of the half 48–0.
“Without the o-line, the ball doesn’t get snapped and we can’t make plays,” Deboskie-Johnson said. “It’s all the o-line. I’m just making the extra play. I’m doing what my coaches tell me. Earlier in fall camp, I messed up doing a play, but the coaches trusted me again for a certain play and it worked. My play on the field is just me reacting.”
With less than a minute remaining in the half, Cartwright went down with an injury as he was scrambling for a first down. Freshmen quarterback Jordan Perry came into the game and threw his first collegiate touchdown to Umodu. Perry completed 7-of-9 attempts for 74 yards and two touchdowns, while Umodu led the receivers with four catches for 63 yards and two touchdowns.
“Well, no matter what my role is, I always plan to stay ready. My opportunity might come any game,” Perry said. “It’s not that I don’t have any emotion; as the quarterback you have to be the leader. Being cool and collected is key.”
Cartwright finished the game 11-of-18 for 137 yards and two touchdowns. True freshman running back Casey Jahn accumulated 111 yards and two scores, and Deboskie-Johnson added another 81 yards. The ground game ran for 346 yards, and the Jacks tallied 557 total yards. The NAU defense held Fort Lewis to only 122 yards for the game and allowed no points on the board, causing Fort Lewis to not find any rhythm on offense. The Skyhawks managed 44 yards through the air and 78-yards rushing. The Lumberjacks finished the game 69–0.
“We have depth on both sides of the ball. We have maturity and leadership at an equal level,” said head coach Jerome Souers. “Your best games are when you can put all 3 phases of the game together. There are some nights you don’t match-up well offensively, some nights you don’t match-up as well defensively, you know the other two carry you.”