FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – In front of a homecoming crowd of 8,367, the Northern Arizona University football team captured a 52-36 victory over Weber State as NAU head coach Jerome Souers secured Big Sky win No. 69 to set a new league record. NAU never trailed in the game, and led by as many as 33 points early in the third quarter.
"It was the tale of two halves," said Souers. "Offensively we started sharp and executed with a high efficiency rate. The third quarter we got out of rhythm. We can't start with negative plays on first downs. It was more of an executional let down rather than an emotional letdown for us."
The 'Jacks (4-3, 2-2 BSC) used one minute and 45 seconds off the clock to start the game and make their way toward the end zone. Quarterback Case Cookus found Dejzon Walker three times up field, the last time resulting in a six-yard touchdown to give the Lumberjacks the first score of the game.
NAU continued its fast pace offense, as the Lumberjacks scored less than seven minutes later, this time with 6:27 remaining in the first. Cookus connected with Elijah Marks who hurdled a defender and rushed his way in for the 27-yard score. To make it a 21-0 Lumberjack lead, tailback Kendyl Taylor caught a 27-yard pass from Cookus to get the crowd on their feet.
Weber State's first points of the game came on a 52-yard field goal from Josh Kealamakia with 13:29 left in the second quarter. NAU responded with two touchdowns, and went into the break leading 35-9.
By the time the Lumberjacks entered the locker room, Cookus had already thrown four touchdowns and rushed for one more.
Weber State received the ball to begin the second half, but the rattled Wildcat offense turned the ball over on the first play as NAU safety Eddie Horn read the receiver's route perfectly and returned the WSU interception for a 27-yard pick six; NAU's first of the season.
That was the highlight of the third for NAU, as Weber State added a pair of touchdowns soon after to trim the Lumberjacks' lead to 42-23. The Wildcats had a three-yard rush by Jadrian Clark and a 27-yard pass from Clark to Ross Stribling to outscore the 'Jacks in the quarter.
The fourth quarter saw the Wildcats continue their run, as WSU capped a five-play, 45-yard drive with a six-yard rushing touchdown to put them within six points of the Lumberjacks at 42-36. The Wildcats, in fact, ran off 27 unanswered points before Hawkins drilled a 19-yard field goal attempt with 4:16 left in the game. Senior running back Casey Jahn sealed the Lumberjack victory with a one-yard touchdown to give NAU a 52-36 lead with only 44 seconds left in the game.
Weber State proceeded to turn the ball over on downs, and the Lumberjacks assembled into victory formation.
Jahn finished with a team-high 126 yards, while Walker racked up 106 on eight catches. Marks shined with 79 yards to further highlight the NAU offense. Cookus finished 28-for-38 with 353 yards, four thrown touchdowns and one interception.
NAU hosts Northern Colorado next Saturday at the Walkup Skydome. Kickoff is slated for 2 p.m. The Bears are coming off a 43-41 last second loss to Eastern Washington at home.