NAU drops Griz in Sky opener

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — Northern Arizona University’s Zach Bauman rushed for 118 yards and 2 touchdowns and the Lumberjacks returned two fumbles for scores, as they defeated the University of Montana Grizzlies 34-16 Saturday evening in NAU’s Walkup Skydome.

It was the Big Sky Conference opener for the teams, as the Grizzlies (3-1/0-1) suffer their first defeat of the season and the Jacks (3-1/1-0) registered their third victory in a row.

The Griz put themselves in a deep hole early in the third quarter, as cornerback Marcus Allen recovered a UM fumble and returned it 22 yards for a touchdown, giving NAU a 25-point, 28-3 lead with 13:59 left in that stanza.

Montana’s offense struggled in the first three quarters, and scored its first touchdown of the game with 12:14 left, when Jordan Johnson tossed a 15-yard scoring pass to wide receiver Mitch Saylor.

After the Johnson-to-Saylor hook-up NAU kicker Andy Wilder connected on back-to-back field goals from 23 and 46 yards out, and his second three-pointer gave the Jacks a 34-10 advantage with 5:01 left in the contest.

The Grizzlies’ final score came on a 9-yard pass from Johnson to freshman tight end Jordan Harper with 3:02 to go.

The Jacks took a commanding early first-quarter lead, as Bauman scored on back-to-back touchdowns on runs of 41 and 5 yards, the his second TD run coming with 8:26 remaining in the opening stanza.

UM’s only points in the first half came on a 42-yard field goal by freshman kicker Ben Worst with 5:20 left in the first quarter.

NAU tacked on another score on a 95-yard fumble return by linebacker Ryan Reardon with 2:03 left until halftime. That defensive score came after Griz quarterback Johnson tried to score on a 4th-and-3, but the ball was jarred loose and Reardon scooped it up and raced into the end zone for the score.

NAU led 21-3 at intermission. Bauman had 11 carries for 92 yards and his two scores in the first half.

Johnson was 17-of-38-0 for 292 yards and 2 TDs, but was sacked four times. Halfback Travon Van led UM with 45 yards rushing on eight carries.

The Griz defense was led by senior linebacker Brock Coyle with a game-high 13 tackles, while fellow senior LB Jordan Trip had 8 tackles, including two for losses.

Montana is home next Saturday, Oct. 5, hosting Portland State in its annual Homecoming game. NAU plays at11th-ranked Montana State next Saturday.

— Montana Sports Information


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