NAU Sails Past N.M. Highlands in Home Opener 41-5

NAU Sails Past N.M. Highlands in Home Opener 41-5

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – Opening up home play with a 41-5 win over New Mexico Highlands (0-2) were the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks (2-0) as they celebrate 100 years of football this season. Before the game, over 2,000 students participated in the Running of the Freshmen; a tradition that NAU community looks forward to every season.

"I'm proud of the guys tonight. The players and the coaching staff," said head coach Jerome Souers. "New Mexico Highlands has some good players. At times tonight we played really well, and at other times weaknesses were exposed. We have one more game to make adjustments before we start conference play."

Through the first two quarters of the game, NAU produced 338 yards of offense, while five different players scored. The longest score of the game came when Case Cookus found Emmanuel Butler for the 46-yard touchdown pass with 6:33 to go in the first quarter. It was the third Cookus-Butler touchdown combo of the season.

The Lumberjacks added a 34-yard field goal by Ryan Hawkins and a pair of touchdowns by Kendyl Taylor and Corbin Jountti to round out the first half scoring.

NAU held the Cowboys to just 43 yards of offense, including -11 rushing yards in the first half. The Lumberjacks were able to keep Cowboy quarterback Keith Moore off-balance as he only completed 7 of 17 passes entering the locker room at halftime. NMHU went 0 of 8 in third down conversions and 0 of 1 on first down conversions.

Coming out of the half, NMHU controlled the clock and with 6:15 to go in the third quarter. The Cowboys got on the scoreboard for the first time with a 21-yard field goal from Luke Jones.

The Lumberjacks earned their first points of the second half when Jountti punched it in for the one-yard touchdown score; his second of the day. Hawkins continued to show off his kicking skills with a 24-yard field goal to round out NAU's scoring for the day.

The final score of the game came on a safety bringing the Cowboys' total to five points for the game.

Alex Holmes recorded the first score of the game tonight, while he racked up the most receiving yards finishing with 116 on six catches.

"We pride ourselves in finishing and dominating positions," Holmes said. "You always like to see guys cutting back and defenders not seeing it. We were able to see that tonight and we love those opportunities."

Cookus finished 17-for-24 with 296 passing yards and three thrown touchdowns for NAU, while the offense tallied 418 yards on the night.

On defense, Josh Bamrick and Derik Hall led the way with six tackles apiece. NAU was credited with 5.0 sacks, 10.0 tackles for loss, and 11 quarterback hurries.

For the visitors, Moore completed 11 of 24 passes for 80 yards. Eric Smith was the big man on defense coming away with 10 tackles to lead all players.


Notes: NAU starts the season 2-0 for the first time since 2001…The Lumberjacks paid tribute to their teammate Michael DeGroote, who was killed this summer in a hunting accident, with a moment of silence before kickoff…The all-time series improves to 77-22-2 in favor of the Lumberjacks…The victory gave NAU another home opener win with the streak dating back to 1993…Case Cookus has now completed 30 of 42 passes to start the season. 

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