FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – Northern Arizona raced out to a 7-0 lead in the first quarter against No. 11 Montana State and never looked back as the Lumberjacks defeated the Bobcats 49-41 in front of a family weekend crowd of 9,431.
"I was really pleased with the way our team bounced back after a couple of tough losses," said head coach Jerome Souers. "Our run-pass balance was executed nicely today which is something we need to do in case they try to lock our guys down. Today was a big win for us."
The pregame prediction of today being a passing affair between NAU's Case Cookus and Montana State's Dakota Prukop rang true, with Cookus recording 244 yards on 18 for 24 throwing and four touchdowns. The leading receiver for Cookus on Saturday afternoon was senior target Alex Holmes, who had seven catches for 72 yards and two touchdowns. Holmes also threw for his second touchdown pass of the season today.
NAU struck fast as a 33-yard reception by Emmanuel Butler led to a three-yard touchdown by Alex Holmes up the middle with less than two minutes ticking off the clock. The Bobcats returned the favor on their next drive, which tied the game at seven-apiece. The two teams exchanged touchdowns before Cookus found Butler for the duo's seventh touchdown of the season, followed by running back Casey Jahns first touchdown this year to give the Lumberjacks a 28-14 edge going into the break.
The second half got going with an NAU touchdown at the 8:10 mark. Jahn kept pushing his way through until he found a gap leading to a six-yard run up the middle for the score. Jahn finished with two on the day. The senior also notched a career-high 175 yard on the ground for NAU Saturday afternoon.
"It was definitely nice to get E-Rod (Eric Rodriguez) back, but everyone was blocking great tonight. It was nice to have those huge holes today."
After Eddie Horn grabbed a one-handed interception, NAU ran past the Montana State defense eventually finding the end zone with a 10-yard touchdown pass from Alex Holmes to RJ Rickert.
The game was cruising with the Lumberjacks up 49-20 before the Bobcats offense picked-up in the fourth quarter. NAU had to hold off a late onslaught from the No. 11 FCS team in the nation, one that saw the Bobcats score 21-unanswered points, but the Lumberjacks did just enough to escape with the 49-41.