The Lumberjacks went on the road this Saturday to start their first conference game of the year against the Montana State University Bobcats. NAU’s second half struggles followed them from their previous game against Illinois State. The Bobcats were able to come back in the second half and outscored the Lumberjacks. Montana walked away defeating the Lumberjacks 49-31.
The Lumberjacks defense dominated for most of the first half. Senior linebacker Taylor Powell intercepted Bobcats sophomore quarterback Tucker Rovig and ran 29 yards for the first touchdown of the game. NAU was able to find the end zone for the second time on their next offensive drive. Senior running back Joe Logan was able to capitalize a 80-yard, 10-play drive by scoring a 3-yard touchdown.
NAU then forced a turnover. Redshirt sophomore defensive back Anthony Sweeney stripped the ball from the Bobcats senior running back Logan Jones on the third play of the second quarter. The Lumberjacks took advantage of this turnover, and senior quarterback Case Cookus completed a pass to freshman wide receiver Hendrix Johnson for a 23-yard touchdown — NAU’s third score of the game and Hendrix’s first career touchdown. The Lumberjacks looked like they had this game won.
However, It only took two plays for the Bobcats to finally find success on offense. After a short punt from NAU's DJ Arnson, which put the Bobcats on the Lumberjacks' 14-yard line, senior wide receiver Travis Jonsen ran 14 yards to the end zone, scoring for the Bobcats on their first play of the drive. In the next possession, Rovig threw a 49-yard touchdown pass on the first play to sophomore wide receiver Coy Steel.
There was still life in NAU’s offense. With 1:45 left in the first half, junior running back Nate Stinson found a hold in the defense and put the Lumberjacks on the 10-yard line. Then two plays later, redshirt Junior wide receiver Stacy Chukwumezie ran 8 yards for NAU’s fourth touchdown of the half. NAU went into the locker rooms at halftime leading 28-14.
NAU’s special teams were the stars for the first five minutes in the second half. They were able to recover the Bobcats' muffed punt, which led to a 46-yard field goal from junior kicker Luis Aguilar.
Montana State was able to respond with an untraditional type of touchdown. Bobcats redshirt freshman fumbled the ball on NAU’s 1-yard line, the ball rolled into the end zone and Rovig was able to recover it, making the score 31-21.
The Bobcats offense and defense started to dominate from then on. Their offense scored four touchdowns on their next five possessions: a 2-yard rushing touchdown by junior running back Troy Anderson, a 2-yard rushing touchdown by Jonsen and two touchdowns by sophomore running back Shane Perry — 15-yard and 5-yard.
NAU could not find a way to stop the Bobcats run offense, allowing them 340 yards and 6 rushing touchdowns.
The Lumberjacks will play their second conference game against the University of Northern Colorado. The Bears have lost all four of their games this year. NAU will enter into the game with a 2-3 overall record.