TEMPE, Ariz. – Arizona State scored on six of its first seven first half possessions and handed Northern Arizona a 63-6 loss in the season opener for both teams.
"We tip our hats off to Coach Graham and their players," said Head Coach Jerome Souers. "They played a very strong game for a team in transition. They had some good schemes. With their speed they really created some difficult matchups and scenarios for us."
The Sun Devils started the game strong with a pair of first quarter touchdowns on their first two possessions of the game. ASU took the opening kick nine plays for 73 yards. Cam Marshall scored from nine yards out to open the scoring. After a Lumberjack punt, Marshall completed the second drive with a one-yard score, finishing off a seven play, 81-yard drive.
NAU's Steven Garcia recovered a fumble to stop the third drive but NAU was unable to capitalize. ASU scored on its next four drives to build the lead to 42-0. The Sun Devils gained 356 yards on offense in the first half while holding NAU to just 93 yards.
"These are situations that will make us better in the long haul," said Souers. "It was a tough game for us. I believe in our players and what we are doing. This group of players will bounce back."
The Lumberjacks lost two starters in the second quarter. Running back Zach Bauman left the game in the second quarter after a helmet-to-helmet collision with an ASU defender. He finished the game with eight carries for seven yards. He rushed for 11 yards on NAU's first play of the game but was held to minus four yards the rest of the game. Quarterback Cary Grossart also left the game in the second quarter after throwing an interception to Brandon Magee and injuring his knee. Magee returned it 45 yards for the touchdown to push the lead to 28-0.
"We put our best foot forward," said Bilbrey. "They got some big plays on us. But I know we have a great time. This is motivation for the rest of the season. We are not going to have another game like this."
ASU's Taylor Kelly was 9-for-13 for 187 yards and a touchdown in the first half. He finished with 247 yards on the night.
The Lumberjacks fought to get back in the game in the second half. Running back Covaughn DeBoskie-Johnson busted a 34-yard run and backup quarterback Chase Cartwright hit Nick Cole on the next play for a 20-yard strike to get the Lumberjacks on the board. Austin Shanks set up the drive with an 18-yard punt return. The point-after attempt was blocked.
"We settled down and started to get some momentum," said Cartwright. "Coach called a great play and it worked for a touchdown."
ASU scored three more times in the third and fourth quarters to extend the lead.
DeBoskie-Johnson finished with 82 yards on 15 carries, while Cartwright was 9-for-21 for 127 yards with two interceptions. Grossart was 3-for-5 for 22 yards before his injury.
"We came together as a group and we never let our heads down as a group," said DeBoskie-Johnson.
NAU returns to action in nine days against UNLV in Las Vegas. The Rebels lost to Minnesota on Thursday 30-27 in their first game.