Bauman steps up on national stage
By Cody Bashore
The No. 22 Lumberjacks’ season of surprises continued with their upset victory against the No. 21 Montana Grizzlies, snapping a 14-game losing streak to the class of the Big Sky Conference (BSC). The win marked the end of a long losing history to the Grizz, dating back to 1997 overall and 1986 for games played in Missoula, Mont..
More importantly, the Lumberjacks have now snapped lengthy losing streaks to both the Grizzlies and, with the win against University of Nevada- Las Vegas, against Football Bowl Series opponents.
Bauman makes statement nationally
In the days leading up to the Lumberjacks departure for Missoula, Mont., junior running back Zach Bauman said Montana was his favorite place to play in the BSC. In the biggest game of his Lumberjack career, Bauman had a career day with his career-high 253 rushing yards and trio of touchdowns on 29 carries. The game was a bit of up and down for the Lumberjacks’ workhorse, as he opened the game with a 75-yard touchdown on the first play from scrimmage for the second straight week. After the opening touchdown, Bauman struggled to total only 30 more yards before halftime. However, he erupted in the second half and ran for more than 100 yards and two touchdowns in the fourth quarter alone. Opening the season on the watch list for the Walter Payton Award, Bauman’s performance is exactly what he needs to jump to the top of the list.
Turnover-free since Tempe
Like many other facets of the game, the Lumberjacks have seen a complete turnaround in turnover differential since their trip to ASU. After the Sun Devils picked off three passes in the season opener, the Lumberjacks have yet to turn over the ball. In the process, NAU has totaled six takeaways of their own. This is despite having three different quarterbacks under center in games since the trip to Las Vegas. Against Montana, NAU scored 10 points off of the five takeaways. While the Lumberjacks could have capitalized a bit better on the Grizzlies mistakes, the 10 points would be the eventual margin of victory.
Awards all around
Following the win, the Lumberjacks were recognized on a team and individual level for their performance. NAU jumped to No. 22 in The Sports Network Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) Top 25, one spot behind Montana, who fell from No. 14 to No. 21. In the FCS Coaches Top 25 poll, the Lumberjacks just missed breaking into the top 25 as their 63 votes fell just short of the 69 for No. 25 Samford.
Individually, Bauman predictably earned the National Running Back of the Week honors from the College Football Performance Awards website and Big Sky Player of the Week from the College Sports Madness Website. Junior safety Lucky Dozier, responsible for a pair of interceptions against Montana, earned a spot as a National Performer of the Week by College Sporting News. Both were also named ROOT SPORTS players of the week on their respective sides of the ball.