OXFORD, Miss. - Ole Miss scored 24 unanswered points to pull away from Northern Arizona in the second and third quarters to win the non-conference matchup 38-14 Saturday at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Ole Miss improved to 6-3 on the season, while NAU dropped to 5-4 on the season.
“It was a tough loss for us," said Head Coach Jerome Souers. "We knew we were going up against a good football team, a talented football team. But I’ll state for us, we are proud of our guys. We competed really hard tonight and they showed a lot of courage. I was proud of the way Michael (Herrick) played tonight. He was under a lot of pressure and a lot of tight coverage. I think at times we made our share of plays. That kid made a great play on that first interception. It kind of put us into a hole early, but our guys battled back and continued to show competitiveness and that’s what we wanted to strive for. We didn’t win the game, but I think we learned a lot about the things we need to improve on for the remainder of our season.”
Quarterback Michael Herrick, a former player at Ole Miss, had a solid game for the Lumberjacks, throwing for 233 yards on 20-for-31 passing. His lone interception came on the first offensive play of the game and led to a Rebel touchdown.
“I thought we frustrated them a bit in the first half because we were moving the ball and scoring," said Herrick. "I don’t think they expected that too much. The ball didn’t bounce our way some times. We went down and got two field goals blocked. We moved the ball, we just couldn’t score.”
Wide receiver Conrad Meadows led the Lumberjacks with an impressive day against the Rebels. He had a team-best seven catches for 113 yards. Alex Henderson rushed for 102 yards and two touchdowns.
“I feel like it was a big opportunity to come out here and play against the SEC." said Henderson. "My offensive line did a great job of blocking, and we had a great week of practice. Ole Miss has a real physical defense, and I probably had some of the toughest carries I’ve ever experienced.”
NAU matched the Rebels over the first 22 minutes of the game, tying the game at 14 with 7:55 left in the second quarter. The Lumberjacks scored twice in the second quarter via long touchdown drives.
Ole Miss scored quickly after intercepting Herrick on the first offensive play of the game. Shay Hodge scored five plays later on a 6-yard pass from Jevan Snead for a 7-0 lead.
NAU got on the board in the second quarter with an 11-play, 80-yard drive that culminated with a Henderson run. After allowing a quick score by Ole Miss highlighted by 45-yard run by Brandon Bolden for a touchdown, NAU marched down the field again, scoring on Henderson's 3-yard run to cap an 81-yard drive.
All of Meadows' seven catches for 113 yards came in the first half, playing a big role in both drives. He had a long reception of 57 yards.
Tied at 14, the Rebels scored three times with drives of two minutes or less in the second quarter to build a 31-14 lead at halftime. The Rebels had the only score in the third quarter to extend the lead to 38-14.
NAU failed to score in the second half despite posting two solid drives that resulted in blocked field goals.
NAU returns to Big Sky action next week at Weber State. Kickoff is set for 12:05 p.m. in Ogden, Utah. The Lumberjacks close out the regular season with a home game against Eastern Washington on Nov. 21.
Post Game Notes
NAU has now lost 19 consecutive games against FBS opponents.
NAU was one of three FCS teams to play two games against FBS opponents that won bowl games last season.
Wide receiver Conrad Meadows recorded his fourth 100-yard receiving game of the season. He had seven catches for 113 yards in the first half alone.
Running back Alex Henderson had two first-half touchdowns, improving his season-best total to 11 on the season.
The NAU athletics department donated 100 tickets from its allotment to the Oxford Boys and Girls Club, providing a unique opportunity for a group from the local club. Jeff Hines, Zac McNally and Curt Sweeney presented the tickets to Kristy Grice from the BGC of Oxford.
Photo image courtesy of Shelby Daniel.