Story and photo courtesy of Northern Arizona Athletics
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – The No. 22 Northern Arizona football team won their fourth consecutive game with a 24-10 victory over Portland State in front of a Family Weekend crowd of 9,107 at the Walkup Skydome.
"There was some concern after the victory over Montana that we would have a drop off this week," said Head Coach Jerome Souers, who won his 80th career game at NAU. "I was really proud of our team. They came out with a great deal of energy and intent. It was a very physical game. It came down to the team that played the best defense and had the fewest mistakes."
NAU (4-1, 2-0 Big Sky) held the Vikings to 85 total yards in the first half, building a 17-3 advantage over the first 30 minutes.
The Vikings scored first on a 41-yard field goal by Nick Fernandez. The Lumberjacks then posted a 13-play, 75 yard drive capped by a seven-yard rush by Zach Bauman for the score and the lead. Anthony Hughes intercepted Portland State's Kieran McDonagh, returning it 32 yards to setup a second consecutive score for the Lumberjacks.
"I think the turnovers gave us an advantage and gave us an opportunity to score," said Souers. "Our offense did a great job of mixing just enough pass to keep them off balance. The two plays deep helped us but they continued to press the run. I am proud of our team."
Quarterback Cary Grossart found Beau Gardner for a one-yard score to put NAU up 14-3.
After forcing a punt to start the second quarter, Bauman rushed for 31 yards on the first two plays. Grossart then hit Austin Shanks for 22 yards, setting up a 38-yard field goal by Andy Wilder to extend the lead to 17-3
Portland State (1-4, 0-2 Big Sky) scored on its first possession of the second half to cut the lead to 17-10, but Grossart and the Lumberjack offense responded with an 80-yard scoring drive. Drew Emanuel scored on a 30-yard pass from Grossart for a 24-10 lead and final margin in the contest.
Bauman finished with 92 yards on 28 carries with a touchdown. Grossart was 24-for-32 with two touchdowns, hitting 11 different receivers in the game. Dejzon Walker led the receivers with five catches for 59 yards.
"We are 2-0 in the conference heading into the bye week with the opportunity to rest up," said Souers.
The Lumberjacks have not turned the ball over in 12 quarters.
NAU returns to action at North Dakota on Oct. 13 with a 1:05 p.m. kickoff Arizona time.