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NAU Nearly Upsets No. 12/10 North Dakota, Falls 38-31

NAU Nearly Upsets No. 12/10 North Dakota, Falls 38-31

GRAND FORKS, N.D. – Northern Arizona (5-5, 4-3 BSC) had three receivers record over 100 yards each, as the Lumberjacks came close to upsetting No. 12/10 North Dakota (9-2, 8-0 BSC) on the road at the Alerus Center.

"It's a tough game," said head coach Jerome Souers. "We made too many errors in the end and the turnovers killed us. We didn't quit, but we can't give teams like this any advantages and we did. The players played hard today and represented us well. I'm proud of them."

The Lumberjacks were attempting to hand North Dakota its first conference loss of the season, but the Fighting Hawks captured their ninth straight win to earn at least a share of the Big Sky Championship in their regular season finale.

North Dakota scored 28 unanswered points to close out the game and take the victory.

UND started the game with a 47-yard pass completion quickly making its way into the red zone, but inside the three-yard line cornerback Andrew Gose came up with two huge plays to halt the Fighting Hawk's momentum forcing the opponents to kick a 21-yard field goal.

NAU shook off the early morning grogginess and worked its way into UND territory with ease. The Lumberjacks capped off the drive with a one-yard Blake Kemp-Elijah Marks connection, after wide receiver Emmanuel Butler was called down at the one-yard line on the previous play.

The Fighting Hawks forced an NAU fumble on a punt return late in the first quarter, resulting in a 38-yard touchdown run by UND's John Santiago on the next play to give UND a 10-3 advantage with 2:42 to go in the quarter.

Facing third and 17 on their own 12-yard line, Kemp found wide receiver Delshawn McClellon, who sped past his defenders all the way to the house, recording an 88-yard touchdown to give NAU the lead back at 14-10 (1:37 1st).

The NAU offense continued to show its ability to complete passes down field. Kemp found Marks for the 45-yard touchdown pass completion and the Lumberjacks found themselves up 21-10 midway through the second quarter.

Kicker Griffin Roehler, the reigning Big Sky Special Teams Player of the Week, added a 27-yard made field goal to assist in NAU's 24-10 halftime lead.

NAU's versatility was shown in the third quarter when wide receiver Kendyl Taylor took the direct snap and sailed the ball through the air to tight end Jonathan Baldwin for the 11-yard 1-2 punch.

The Lumberjacks' 17-point scoring run was snapped with 6:30 to go in the third quarter when Santiago ran the ball in for the 15-yard score to trim NAU's lead to 14 points.

The Fighting Hawks added a two-yard touchdown completion with 7:58 to shake things up in the fourth quarter. UND tallied on two more scores, including a 40-yard pick six by Deion Harris to steal the win from NAU.

NAU will host Southern Utah next week in its regular season finale. Senior Day will kick off at 2 p.m., but fans should arrive early for the recognition ceremony.

 

Notes: NAU Captains: Blake Kemp, Tyler Shank, Xavier Stephens, Keith Graham…NAU led 24-10 at the half…Xavier Stephens had eight tackles at the half…Blake Kemp completed 33 of 56 passes for 416 yards and three touchdowns…Emmanuel Butler (106), Elijah Marks (115), Delshawn McClellon (119) all finished with 100-plus yard receiving games…Xavier Stephens had 11 tackles to lead the defense.

 
 
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