Bauman leads Lumberjacks to shock Grizzlies in Montana
By Devontae Browne
Junior running back Zach Bauman began the season on the Walter Payton Award watch list, and following NAU’s 41–31 upset victory over the University of Montana Grizzlies, improved his stock.
After 13 carries through the first three games that resulted in 246 yards and three touchdowns, Bauman had a career day against the Grizzlies, running 29 times for 253 yards and three touchdowns.
“Without my O-line I wouldn’t be anything. They open the holes for me to run through all credit goes to them,” Bauman said.
The Lumberjacks (3–1, 1–0 Big Sky Conference) had not beaten Montana (2–2, 0–1 BSC) since 1997, and the Grizzlies had not lost at home since 2008. The upset increased NAU’s win streak to three games and 1–0 in BSC play.
NAU struggled during the first half at Montana, as senior quarterback Cary Grossart was under pressure and sacked multiple times. However, the Jacks found their rhythm during the last two quarters, keeping the ball out of the Grizzlies’ offense with bold play calls, an effective running game and key conversions on third and fourth downs. Grossart finished the game 16-of-23 for 138 yards and a touchdown.
Going into halftime, NAU was down 24–14, riding the momentum of senior running back Covaughn DeBoskie-Johnson’s three-yard run with just over nine minutes remaining. Head coach Jerome Souers spoke to the team and a shift in the game momentum soon followed during the second half.
“I got asked in the post-game what was said at half time, really we were just confident,” Grossart said. “I just looked around at the guys in the locker room, we were still on the same page. In years’ past it has been heads down. For us, we kept the confidence and felt like we left plays out there in the first half. We believed we were going to come out and play well during the second half.”
The NAU defense began to key in on the offensive game-plan Montana had in place and the Lumberjacks created two forced fumbles, two sacks and grabbed three interceptions for the game. Junior safety, Lucky Dozier, tallied two of the interceptions.
“We practice hard all week and our game plan was very accurate to what we were up against,” Dozier said. “As a secondary, the game plan was about executing our assignments and staying disciplined.”
The Lumberjacks outscored the Grizzlies 34–7 during the second half, which included 27 unanswered points, 34 counting DeBoskie-Johnson’s score in the second period, until Montana scored with 1:58 left in the game. The Grizzlies were held to 138 rushing yards and 244 passing yards, while the Lumberjack offense rushed for 268 yards and threw for 138 yards with a total of five touchdowns and no turnovers through the game.
“This defense was going up against an offense that ran the ball very well. The quarterback is athletic and very fast, they have great running backs,” Souers said. “We put a lot of pressure on our secondary in certain situations playing man coverage. We started getting more pressure on the quarterback, it rushed the timing of throws.”
NAU returns home to face Portland State University. The Vikings are 1–3 overall and 0–1 in the BSC. Their only win came against NAIA school Carroll College. The Lumberjacks see that they are playing with composure, maturity and discipline; next week’s game should be another home victory the team believes.