The 2013 Northern Arizona football season was one filled with ups and downs, and many thrilling moments along the way.
Head coach Jerome Souers entered his 16th season at the helm of the football program with hopes of making the season "Sweet." Souers and his team had 11 games on the schedule this year, if they made it to 12 that would mean that they had snapped a 10-year drought from the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) Playoffs.
The Lumberjacks began the season with 18 returning starters on both sides of the ball. Leading the way for NAU was All-American senior running back Zach Bauman. With an experienced running back and a defensive unit that would scare even the toughest football players out there, NAU was set to make its mark in 2013.
NAU opened the season at the University of Arizona. The Lumberjacks did not let the loss deter them from their mission, as they responded with a three-game win streak which was highlighted by a 34-16 victory over No. 7 Montana in front of a record-setting crowd of 12,640 screaming fans.
The Lumberjacks were tripped up at Montana State – their only conference loss of the season – but for NAU it meant that they needed to work harder for it not to happen again.
NAU returned to Flagstaff and hit the ground running. Over the course of the next six games, NAU won four games by one touchdown or more, climbed into the top 10 in the national polls, earned ESPN SportsCenter's Top Play of the Day and finished the regular season undefeated at home.
After a snowy comeback victory over Southern Utah on the road, NAU had to wait patiently for the outcome of the Eastern Washington-Portland State game. If Portland State were to upset Eastern Washington, it would give the Lumberjacks and the Eagles a share of the Big Sky Conference title. Unfortunately, Eastern Washington managed to produce a last second comeback to steal the win and the conference title. The Lumberjacks finished second in the league with a 7-1 record.
The Lumberjacks finished the regular season 9-2 for the first time since 1996. Less than 24 hours after recording its sixth straight victory, NAU earned an at-large bid and drew South Dakota State at home for the first round of the FCS Playoffs.
NAU's game against South Dakota State ended a 10-year hiatus from the playoffs, as postseason football was a welcome addition to Flagstaff during the Thanksgiving holiday.
The Lumberjacks fell to South Dakota State 26-7, but the loss did not overshadow all of the positive things that happened during the season.
NAU fans were able to see one of the best football players to ever don the uniform in Bauman. The four-year Lumberjack became the first NAU running back to break the 4,000 and 5,000 career rushing yards marks. He was also the ninth player in FCS history to rush for 1,000 yards in four seasons. Bauman finished his career with a plethora of records including career rushing yards, all-purpose yards, carries and points scored.
The Lumberjacks closed out their season with an FCS-best eight defensive touchdowns. The quick hands of Lucky Dozier, Anders Battle, Austin Hasquet, Marcus Alford, Ryan Reardon, Blair Wishom and Randy Hale Jr. all contributed to help NAU lead the FCS.
NAU also had 19 players earn a total of 21 All-Big Sky honors, while the All-American accolades are still rolling in.
A second place finish in the Big Sky, an FCS Playoff at-large bid, a record-setting crowd, a win over Montana, plus an undefeated regular season at home are just a few of the moments that highlighted the 2013 NAU Football season.