FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – No. 12 Northern Arizona defeated Northern Colorado 24-7 on Senior Day as it closed out home play undefeated in the Walkup Skydome. It was the first time since 1996 that the Lumberjacks went undefeated at home during the regular season.
"Today was a great win for our guys, and especially for our seniors," said head coach Jerome Souers. "Northern Colorado is a good team, way better than their record, and I thought they played that way tonight."
It took almost the entire first quarter for NAU (8-2, 6-1) to score, but senior Andy Wilder recorded the first three points for NAU with a 23-yard field goal with 2:48 to go in the quarter. The score would hold for quite some time as both teams struggled to find the end zone early in the game.
Junior Randy Hale Jr. came up big for the Lumberjacks when he returned his first interception of the season for a score to increase NAU's lead over the Bears to 10-0 with 5:31 remaining in the second quarter.
After a 10-point lead coming out of the locker room, junior quarterback Kyren Poe rushed for six yards and the Lumberjacks' second touchdown of the game.
Northern Colorado (1-10, 0-7) would not be held scoreless as Seth Lobato connected with Dimitri Stimphil for the 77-yard touchdown pass with less than 13 minutes left in the game.
Senior Jesse Brantley capped off his amazing game with a 46-yard touchdown catch from Kyren Poe at the 5:46 mark in the fourth quarter. Brantley led all NAU receivers with 94 yards on five catches.
Two minutes later, Hale Jr. came up big again, this time with an interception in the Northern Colorado end zone that ended any chance of a Bears' comeback.
The quarterback duo of Poe and Chase Cartwright combined for 200 yards (18-28-0) to help steer the offense. Senior running Zach Bauman registered the 24th 100-yard rushing game of his career, as he finished with 144 yards. Bauman tallied 161 all-purpose yards in the game.
"The offense came out real stagnant," said Bauman. "Maybe we were too high with emotion, but the defense made a couple of plays and we started rolling and once we start rolling, it's tough to stop us."
Joining Hale with a solid performance on defense tonight was senior Steven Garcia. He led NAU with 10 tackles, including two tackle-for-losses, two quarterback hurries and one sack. Garcia led a group of five seniors that finished at the top of the tackles chart tonight – Anders Battle (8), Blair Wishom (7), Lucky Dozier (5) and Chima Ike (4).
NAU will play its final regular season game on the road next week at Southern Utah. Kickoff versus the Thunderbirds is set for 12:05 p.m.