FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – The Northern Arizona football team returns home for the 85th annual Homecoming contest against Montana. Kickoff is set for 3:05 p.m. on Saturday. The game can be heard on the Lumberjack Radio Network on 105.1 FM The Big Talker in Flagstaff and seen online on Big Sky TV.
"We need to execute the game plan better," said quarterback Cary Grossart. "We have a different energy in practice and we are ready for this opportunity against Montana."
The Lumberjacks are 50-34 all-time on Homecoming. The Griz have served as the Homecoming opponent four times (173, 1983, 2005, 2007) Montana is ranked No. 12 Sports Network and No. 9 by Coaches, the second consecutive ranked opponent for the Lumberjacks.
"We have had a good week of practice," said Grossart. "We want to turn this thing around. We are pushing ourselves out here in practice. We need to stay positive and move forward."
Montana leads the all-time series 33-11. Montana has won 13 in a row and 22 of the last 23 games against NAU. The Lumberjacks' last victory in the series came with a 27-24 win in 1997. Montana is the only team in the Big Sky yet to be beat by Jerome Souers while at NAU. NAU went 9-11 against Montana in the first 20 years of the series, including a four-game winning streak from 1976-79.
Since the Skydome opened in 1977, NAU has won just 7 of 33 games against Montana in the series. Overall, NAU is 7-13 in Flagstaff and 4-20 in Missoula against the Grizzlies. The last two games have been decided by just 10 points and four of the last five games have been decided by a touchdown or less. The Lumberjacks lost 24-21 last season in Missoula and 41-34 in overtime in the last meeting in Flagstaff in 2009.
Montana enters the game with a 5-2 mark and has won three consecutive games. The Griz are just 1-2 away from Missoula with losses at Tennessee and Sacramento State. Montana ranks second in the conference in rushing defense (137.9) and scoring defense (24.7) and third in pass defense (191.4). UM is second overall in total defense (329.3) and sixth in total offense (381.1). Jordan Canada, the leading rusher for the team, averages 52.1 yards per game but they have players averaging 20 or more yards per game.