FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – The 16th-ranked Northern Arizona football team won for the sixth consecutive game and improved to 4-0 in Big Sky Conference play with a 21-7 Homecoming victory over UC Davis in the first meeting between the schools.
"It was a great win for us," said Head Coach Jerome Souers. "We knew UC Davis was going to be a tough matchup for us. The tell-tale sign was going to be how our defense matched against their offense and their passing game."
The Lumberjacks defense recorded eight sacks and two interceptions, holding the Aggies off the scoreboard until the final quarter and preventing a comeback effort with a late stand. Aggie quarterback Ricky Wright, the reigning Big Sky Offensive Player of the Week, was held to 12-of-27 passing with just 181 yards and no touchdowns.
"It was a defensive game," said Souers. "I was excited to see that dimension of our team show itself. Sometimes our offense has carried the team but tonight our defense did. They did a great job of containing a potent Davis offense."
Running back Zach Bauman, a Chandler Hamilton product, rushed for 122 and added 55 receiving yards and a touchdown reception to lead the Lumberjacks. Quarterback Cary Grossart went 18-for-32 for 167 yards and two touchdowns.
"It felt great to get a Homecoming win," said Grossart.
The teams exchanged punts for most of the first half before the Lumberjacks finally got on the board. Taking possession with 2:46 left in the half, Bauman opened the drive with a 12-yard scamper. Grossart found Walker and Bauman for consecutive first downs and Nick Cole then caught a 17-yard strike to give NAU a 7-0 lead.
"The touchdown to Nick was a huge one for us to get us going," said Grossart. "It was good to get a throw down the field in the red zone. It was an exciting play. It got our team and the fans into it. From there the defense took over and got us the ball."
NAU (6-1, 4-0 BSC) scored twice in the third quarter. After a fumble recovery by Lucky Dozier, Bauman scored four plays later from 25-yards out. Senior Austin Shanks completed the scoring with a 78-yard burst on the next possession to run the lead to 21-0.
The Aggies made a late push in the fourth quarter. Wright led his team on an 11-play drive, scoring on a 2-yard rush by Williams. UC Davis (3-5, 2-3 BSC) then intercepted Grossart on the NAU 14-yard line but the defense held the Aggies out of the end zone, preventing the first down and stopping the fourth-down effort.
Anders Battle led the team with a game-high 14 tackles
"We fought thru being tired in the second half and got it done," said Wilkinson.
NAU plays its next two games on the road at Northern Colorado (Oct. 27) and at Idaho State (Nov. 3) before finishing the regular season with a pair of homes games against Southern Utah and Cal Poly.