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NAU Defense Stops Montana State, Grabs Big Sky Win

Griffin Roehler
Griffin Roehler

BOZEMAN, Mont. – Northern Arizona (2-4, 1-2 BSC) held a 10-0 advantage at the half at Montana State (2-4, 0-3 BSC), and with stellar play by the Lumberjack defense, it hung on for the 20-14 win against the Bobcats. The victory, which was televised live on ROOT SPORTS, was the first Big Sky win of the season for the Lumberjacks in front of a crowd of 17,637 at Bobcat Stadium.

"It was a game of momentum tonight," said Head Coach Jerome Souers. "I thought we did a great job of establishing ourselves in the first half, we were moving the ball but weren't getting paid with enough points.

Then the momentum shifts in the fourth quarter caused some problems for us and they made some really big plays. But in the end, our guys buckled down and moved it enough on offense to run out some clock and the defense made some big plays. I'm so proud of our athletes."

NAU's defense was on point the entire game, and turned out to be the saving grace on MSU's final play. As the Bobcats were marching down the field with less than a minute to go, NAU's Siupeli Anau snuck in for his third sack and second forced fumble of the game—where senior linebacker Xavier Stehens was there to scoop up his second recovered fumble on the night—halting the MSU threat and sealing the victory for the Lumberjacks.

It was almost a déjà vu play for the Lumberjack defense, as Anau sacked the MSU quarterback for a 12-yard loss resulting in a forced fumble that was covered by, who else, Stephens midway through the first quarter. It was just a sample of what the Lumberjack defense had up their sleeves, as they held MSU to 281 total yards.

"Our defense did a great job across the board," said Souers. "This is a good team and it is tough to play here. To come in here and get the stops we were able to get and keep the clock moving on offense was big. Our special teams was much better today, too."

NAU's first points of the game came on a 37-yard made field goal by freshman Griffin Roehler at the 11:14 mark in the second to go up 3-0 over the Bobcats.

The Lumberjacks missed a 42-yard field goal with 7:14 to go in the second quarter to maintain a 3-0 lead over the home team.

Lumberjack fans didn't have to wait too long for another chance to put points on the board. Joe Logan found an opening up the right sideline, and the true freshman rushed for 65 yards straight to the end zone to give NAU a 10-0 advantage heading into halftime.

NAU came out of the locker room hot. On MSU's kickoff Devon McPeek punched the ball out of the returner's hands and Taylor Powell recovered the ball. The play led to a 31-yard made field goal for Roehler, his second of the game.

Logan struck again, this time in the third quarter, as he made his way up the middle for the five-yard score. The running back finished the game with 142 yards on 21 carries and two touchdowns.

MSU's Chad Newell scored a nine-yard rushing touchdown for the Bobcats with 3:37 remaining in the third quarter. The Bobcats added another touchdown to start off the fourth quarter and trim NAU's lead to six points.

Kemp completed 25 of 40 passes for 195 yards.

NAU returns to Flagstaff to host Idaho State on Homecoming. The game is scheduled for a 4 p.m. kickoff at the Walkup Skydome next Saturday, Oct. 15.

Notes: NAU Captains: Blake Kemp, Elijah Marks, Xavier Stephens, Lorenzo Melvin…Butler moved up to No. 10 on the NAU career receiving yards chart with 68 yards on seven catches tonight…Joe Logan recorded his second 100-yard rushing game of the season…Siupeli Anau finished with six total tackles, including three sacks for a loss of 29 yards and two forced fumbles.

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