TUCSON, Ariz. – The Northern Arizona football team was in arms' reach of Arizona for the first half of the game, but the Wildcats were able to gain ground in the second half as they came away with a 35-0 win over the Lumberjacks in both teams' season opener.
"I thought our team came in well prepared, but there were a couple of things that happen that let the game get away from us," said head coach Jerome Souers. "Our guys stayed through it and fought through it. For us I know that we can improve and I like to think that we can play a lot better."
The Lumberjacks trailed by 14 points at the half after a Daniel Jenkins 11-yard touchdown in the first, followed by a 91-yard rushing touchdown by Jenkins in the second quarter. The rush was the third longest in school history.
The second half started off shaky for NAU as Kyren Poe's first pass of the second half was tipped and picked off by UA's Tra'Mayne Bondurant and returned for a 25-yard touchdown. The extra point gave the Wildcats a 21-0 lead with 14:47 left in the third quarter.
NAU had two chances in the game to get the ball back after Wildcat returners had a tough time handling the ball on punt returns, but the ball continued to bounce by NAU and into the arms of a Wildcat player.
Arizona was then able to tack on 14 more points off of a Denker 30-yard rushing TD in the third, and a 61-yard rushing TD from Allen late in the fourth quarter.
NAU came close to getting on the board in the first half, but a 42-yard field goal attempt by Andy Wilder went wide left. Wilder attempted a 45-yard field goal with 5:43 to go in the game, but once again it went wide left.
Poe made his first career start tonight. The sophomore completed his first 10 passes but finished the night completing 21 of 36 passes for 176 total yards. Poe was also responsible for three interceptions.
"As an offense, we moved the ball pretty well," said Poe. "The way we started off the second half was not ideal. When you're playing against a good defense like that, they are going to be making plays on the ball."
Zach Bauman totaled 31 rushing yards in the first half to finish with 71. The senior only needs 48 rushing yards to pass Marcus King and become the school record holder.
Quentin Kantaris led NAU with six tackles, while Arizona was paced by Bondurant and Jake Fischer who both recorded seven.
The Lumberjacks were 4-for-5 on fourth down conversions. NAU tried to spread its offense as it had 176 passing yards and 94 rushing yards. The Wildcats dominated the rushing game with 306 yards, but only tallied 87 yards passing.
The Lumberjacks have a bye next week, but will return to play on Saturday, Sept. 14 when they travel to UC Davis for a 6 p.m. kickoff.