CHENEY, Wash. – In front of a sell-out crowd, the Lumberjacks stunned No. 4 Eastern Washington with a 52-30 victory on homecoming. The defeat marked only the seventh time the Eagles have lost on the red field, while also breaking an overall six-game winning streak and handing EWU its first regular season home loss since 2011.
"There were a lot of plays that went our way today," said head coach Jerome Souers. "I thought our guys battled their tails off for four quarters and played to the best of their ability. Those are the things you have to do to win a big game like this."
This afternoon's game saw NAU control the time of possession and essentially the game. The Lumberjacks' ability to manage the clock, holding onto the rock nearly 12 minutes longer than the Eagles, allowed NAU to build a large deficit that the Eagles just could not overcome.
"I was taking the snaps, but our O-Line and running backs made some great plays and kept it on the entire game," said Cookus. "Not to mention, our defense came up big tonight and scored some points."
NAU took advantage of two EWU fumbles in the first quarter. The first one stopped the Eagles from scoring from 11 yards out, and the second one was on a punt return, which led to a four-yard touchdown rush by Casey Jahn four plays later.
Jahn continued to pound the Eagles' front seven, recording a nine-yard score on the Lumberjacks' first drive of the second quarter. The touchdown marked Jahn's second of the game and gave NAU a 14-0 edge over EWU.
The Eagles got on the board with a seven-yard score heading into halftime, but were unable to seize the momentum at the start of the second half. Three minutes into the third quarter, Case Cookus and Emmanuel Butler connected for their 13th touchdown of the season to increase the Lumberjack lead to 21-7.
"The goal of our offense is to do a better job on third down conversions," Souers said. "It gives us a huge advantage when we're able to convert so many."
While the Eagles remained confused on offense, NAU managed to stay one step ahead of EWU all day. The Eagles did cut NAU's lead down to seven with seven minutes left in the third quarter, but Ryan Hawkins connected on a 21-yard field goal attempt with less than a minute to go in the third.
The deficit remained at 10 in favor of the Lumberjacks before Marcus Alford, the leader of the NAU secondary, showed off his speed and quick hands today, coming away with a 70-yard pick six; his first of the season. Alford ran right past the Eagles, as if he was truly in an inferno.
When the final second ticked off the clock, it was NAU that was victorious putting up a powerful 52 points against one of the top teams in the nation.
NAU returns home for Senior Day on Saturday, Nov. 14 at the Walkup Skydome. Kickoff is slated for 2 p.m. Fans who arrive early will receive a Louie The Lumberjack bobblehead.
Notes: NAU has now recorded three straight games with 50 points…Corbin Jountti recorded a single-game high three touchdowns…NAU's 22-point win is the largest margin of defeat this season for the Eagles…Today marked only the second conference loss for EWU in the last 24 games; both to NAU (2014 and 2015).