Photo by Jerry Johnsen
GRAND FORKS, N.D. – Quarterback Cary Grossart threw for a career-high 363 yards and four touchdowns to lead 16th-ranked Northern Arizona to a 45-38 victory over North Dakota, spoiling the UND Homecoming at the Alerus Center.
"It was a typical Big Sky game," said Head Coach Jerome Souers. "A lot of things happened out there. Our offense really stepped up in the second half. Our kids made plays in the fourth quarter and that is what I like about this team."
NAU won its fifth consecutive game to improve to 5-1, the best start for the program since 2008, with a perfect 3-0 Big Sky mark. UND dropped to 3-4, 1-3.
The Lumberjacks fell behind 31-24 in the third quarter but got back in the game after Austin Shanks was hit out of bounds on a punt return, setting up a short field on the UND 37. NAU scored four plays later to tie the game at 31. then went on the game-winning drive on the next possession. After getting the ball at one-yard line, Grossart led NAU on a 12-play, 99-yard drive that put the Lumberjacks up for good.
"It seemed like in the fourth quarter we were wearing them down," said Souers. "We had more success running the ball and Cary had some nice conversions. The bottom line to come in here and get a win is a big deal for us."
Leading 38-31, NAU then forced a fumble by UND quarterback Braden Hanson and recovered it. NAU scored again to go up two scores and seal the game.
Zach Bauman finished with 176 yards on 29 carries despite missing the second quarter with an injury. He returned to run for 114 yards in the second half to help the winning effort.
The game featured three ties in the contest at 17, 24 and 31. NAU finished with a season-high 568 yards of offense. Wide receiver Ify Umodu had a career-high nine catches for 118 yards and a touchdown.
"The game required us to step up on offense" said Souers. "We had some big plays out of the run and pass."
The Lumberjacks jumped out to a 14-0 advantage in the first half. Grossart led NAU down the field on the opening drive of the game, hitting Ify Umodu for a two-yard score. Lucky Dozier then picked off his third pass of the season, setting up a short field for the offense. Grossart threw his second touchdown of the quarter to Nick Cole for the 18-yard score.
The UND offense had their first success of the game in the second quarter, completing a 73 yard drive with a seven-yard run by Jameer Jackson.
On the next play, Grossart had his pass tipped at the line and Will Lewis picked it off, recording the first turnover against the Lumberjacks in the 19 quarters. UND converted the turnover into a 40-yard field goal to cut the lead to 14-10.
NAU responded with a 24-yard field goal by Wilder after a 13-play drive to extend the lead to 17-10. But UND tied it up before the half, going 80 yards in 1:08.
NAU returns home to host UC Davis for Homecoming next week at the Walkup Skydome. Kickoff is set for 4:05 p.m.