Lumberjack football team stretches win streak to seven
By Cody Bashore
With less than five minutes remaining in the game and zero offensive points scored thus far, senior quarterback Cary Grossart and junior running back Zach Bauman led the Lumberjack offense on a scoring drive to survive in Greeley, Colo.
Andy Wilder’s second game-winning field goal of the season capped off a 15-play, 76-yard drive to give No. 13 Northern Arizona University (NAU) (7–1, 5–0 Big Sky Conference) a 12–10 lead against the University of Northern Colorado Bears (2–6, 1–4 BSC) and extended the Lumberjack winning streak to seven games, the school’s longest since 1958.
“Offensively, we really struggled getting into a grove, we credit our opponent for that,” said head coach Jerome Souers. “Cary stepped up on that last drive, got us down the field, put us into field goal position and Andy secured the win. So it’s a team win; it was ugly, but hey, another day in the Big Sky Conference.”
Grossart hit 5-of-7 passes for 57 yards and Bauman rushed for 22 yards on five carries, including a two-yard run on fourth-and-two, during the final NAU drive. For the game, Grossart completed 21-of-32 passes for 225 yards while the Bears held Bauman less than 100 yards rushing as he totaled 92 on 26 carries.
The Bears tackled Bauman on the one-yard line following a four-yard run and the Lumberjacks elected to bring out Wilder for the game’s go-ahead points with 15 seconds left on the clock.
“We felt like we had plays all game that we wanted to get to,” Grossart said. “We knew we could throw the ball a little bit and that last drive we had to let it fly. You just kind of have to go out there and do it; you don’t really think about it too much.”
Despite the late drive for the offense, it was the NAU defense that kept the score low enough all day to keep the game within reach. The Lumberjacks allowed 240 yards for the game, including a season-low 42 yards rushing.
“I can’t say enough about our defensive squad; I think they played their tails off tonight,” Souers said. “Really, we were pretty stingy all day today.”
Additionally, the defense bared responsibility for the majority of the Lumberjacks’ scoring output, contributing a safety and an interception returned for a touchdown by sophomore corner back Mike Dosen in the first half.
“If the offense is not going, we got their back,” said junior defensive tackle Tim Wilkinson. “All the hard work we put in, we can’t divide. We always come together.”
After going 19 straight quarters without a turnover earlier this season, the Lumberjacks struggled to hold onto the ball for the second straight week. With three turnovers in the win, NAU has now turned the ball over 8 times in the past three games.
Two of NAU’s turnovers occurred less than two minutes into the game. Senior wide receiver Austin Shanks fumbled after a 40-yard catch on the Lumberjacks opening play from scrimmage, but the ensuing Bears’ possession resulted in a fumbled snap into the end zone on a punt. Up 2–0, NAU received the kick after the safety, but Grossart threw an interception another three plays later.
“I have got to be accurate. That pass? That was not a good throw. I mean, it really wasn’t. I had anticipated something different and got picked off,” Grossart said. “You just got to hold onto the ball; we got to remember ball security next week and I got to do a better job of completing the ball, that’s the bottom line.”
The Lumberjacks remain on the road next week when they visit the Idaho State University Bengals (17, 0–5 BSC), who have given up at least 52 points in all five conference losses this season.