FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – Northern Arizona was not intimidated by the No. 10 Montana Grizzlies, as it struck fast and often today to capture a 45-34 win over the top-25 program. The win is the third straight for the Lumberjacks as they improve to 4-4 overall and 3-2 in the Big Sky.
"I'm really proud of our football program," said Head Coach Jerome Souers. "I thought our coaching staff put together an excellent plan against a really good football team. Our players came out, played inspired, and followed the plan. We kept the pressure on the opponent over the course of the game and I thought that was important toward the outcome."
It was all NAU from start to finish.
The NAU defense stopped Montana on fourth and three, and then the Lumberjack offense responded on the very next play with a 74-yard touchdown completion from Blake Kemp to William Morehand to jump start NAU's offense on the first drive. The play took all of 10 seconds to give the home team a 7-0 edge early in the game.
"Montana likes to play really stout run defense, so it left some openings and single coverage over the top," said Souers. "I thought Kemp did a great job taking advantage of those situations when they presented themselves. Our offense really gave us the quick start we were looking for."
Tim Semenza put Montana on the board with a 34-yard made field goal 55 seconds later, but one minute and 10 seconds later, Kemp found Delshawn McClellon for the 10-yard score and a 14-3 lead.
The Griz showed a spark of energy of their own when Brady Gustafson connected with Justin Calhoun for a 47-yard touchdown completion to start the second quarter. Montana went for the two-point conversion as James Homan ran the ball in to trim NAU's lead to 14-11 with 14:52 to go in the second quarter.
NAU's Kendyl Taylor caught a short pass from Kemp and then bulldozed his way into the end zone the rest of the way to up the Lumberjack's score to 21. Semenza converted another field goal, this time from 26 yards out, but Kemp rolled out to his left to hit Jake Thomas for the linebacker's second touchdown catch on the very next drive to extend the Lumberjack lead to 28-14. Montana added a touchdown before the end of the half to head into the locker room down 28-20.
The Lumberjacks kept the pedal to the medal in the second half, scoring on three consecutive drives in the third quarter, including back-to-back scores by running back Corbin Jountti for one and 13 yards, respectively. The Griz rallied a bit in the fourth, mustering two touchdown drives, but came up short.
With a couple kneel downs from Kemp, the Lumberjacks defeated the Griz at home, 45-34. The loss drops Montana to 5-2, 2-2 in league play.
"This was a good win to build on," said Souers. "We have a rough stretch ahead after this bye-week, but we needed this and it was a big one for us."
NAU has next week off, but will return to the field on Nov. 5 when it travels to Weber State to face the Wildcats for an 11 a.m. match-up.
Notes: NAU Captains: Blake Kemp, Kourey Gabriel, Tyler Shank, Keith Graham...Head Coach Jerome Souers tied the Big Sky All-Time Coaching Wins record with victory No. 111...Running back Joe Logan scampered all over the field today, going for 114 yards on 12 carries … On just five receptions, William Morehand engineered 125 yards and a score … Kemp, on 16 of 345 throwing, connected with four different receivers for touchdowns and 259 yards