FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – Northern Arizona scored four times in the opening quarter to cruise to a home opening win over Division II Fort Lewis Saturday at the Walkup Skydome 58-13. It was the first game in the renovated Skydome, which received a $26 million upgrade over the last ninth months.
“I am really pleased with the growth and development of our offense,” said Head Coach Jerome Souers. “I think we are showing ball control capability and some explosiveness with some of the talent and speed we have on the perimeter and that is something that excited me.”
Quarterback Cary Grossart went 16-for-21 for 271 yards and three touchdowns, while running backs Giovannie Dixon, Zach Bauman and Jamaal Perkins combined for 261 yards on 23 carries with four touchdowns. Dixon led the rushing attack with 136 yards including an 82-yard scamper in the third quarter that tied the fourth-longest run in school history from scrimmage.
“We had a lot of fresh legs in the backfield today,” said Bauman. “We could do nothing without the offensive line opening the holes. The receivers and quarterbacks were great. I think we hit on all cylinders today. We just need to take better care of the ball.”
NAU lost three fumbles in the contest and missed two field goals while punting just once. The Lumberjacks tallied 622 yards of total offense, averaging 10 yards per play in the game.
“I am not pleased with the turnovers and penalties,” said Head Coach Jerome Souers. “They are un-called for. We are going to make a major issue of that this week. I thought we did a better job in the second half.”
Ify Umodu led the receivers for the second consecutive week with seven grabs for 149 yards and two scores.
NAU opened with a score on the opening possession of the game, driving 80 yards highlighted by a 27-yard pass from Grossart to Khalil Paden. After the defense forced a three-and-out, Grossart hit Umodu on the first play for a 58-yard touchdown.
Fort Lewis got on the board with a 31-yard field goal from Ryan Baldwin setup by a Lumberjack fumble. NAU scored two more times in the quarter to lead 27-3 after 15 minutes.
Fort Lewis scored on the first play of the second quarter on a 1-yard run by Tim Jenkins to cut the lead to 27-10 but never got any closer. NAU led 37-10 at the half, scoring three more times in the second half before Fort Lewis got a second field goal from Baldwin to close out the game.
Austin Hasquet the team with seven tackles.
NAU opens Big Sky Conference play next Saturday against Portland State. The game is scheduled for 5:05 p.m. in Portland and will be televised on Comcast SportsNet. The game can also be heard on the Lumberjack Radio Network on 105.1 FM The Big Talker in Flagstaff and online.