FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – No. 22/24 Northern Arizona (3-1, 1-0 Big Sky) trounced No. 7 Montana (3-1, 0-1 Big Sky) tonight in front of a sellout crowd of 12,640 screaming Lumberjack fans in its Big Sky opener. The Lumberjacks scored the first two touchdowns of the game and never relinquished the lead as they defeated the Grizzlies 34-16 tonight at the Walkup Skydome.
"I am very proud of all members of our football program," said head coach Jerome Souers. "Our coaching staff prepared our team very well and both (Rich) Scangarello and (Andy) Thompson called a great game."
Quarterback Kyren Poe recorded his best throwing night of the season as the sophomore completed 22-of-30 passes for 242 yards with only one miscue on the night.
Senior running back Zach Bauman posted his second consecutive 100-yard rushing game as he finished with 118 yards on 21 carries. Bauman recorded back-to-back touchdowns for the Lumberjacks to start the game for his second and third touchdowns of the season. The Chandler native also added 40 receiving yards to finish with 158 all-purpose yards on the night.
Montana entered the game with the best passing efficiency in the FCS, but the Lumberjacks were able to slow down the Grizzlies' offense as they weren't able to get on the scoreboard until late in the first quarter after a 42-yard field goal by Ben Worst.
"The defense has been the cornerstone of our program," said Souers. "They have been the leaders and those two scores helped carry this team to today's win."
The Grizzlies added 13 points in the fourth quarter after Jordan Johnson found Mitch Saylor for a 15-yard touchdown pass with 7:50 to go, followed by a nine-yard pass to Jordan Harper for the Grizzlies' final score of the night with 3:02 left to go in the game.
Andy Wilder recorded his first pair of field goals this season in the fourth quarter. Wilder hit a 23-yard field goal with 7:50 on the clock, and then connected on a 46-yard field goal with 5:01 left to play.
NAU's 36-point performance tonight was the most points scored by the Lumberjacks all season. The Lumberjacks finished with 416 yards of total offense, while holding the Grizzlies to 347 total yards.
Alex Holmes was the Lumberjacks' leading receiver with 68 yards on seven catches. Holmes also completed a 25-yard pass to Poe in the first quarter. Austin Hasquet and Blair Wishom led the Lumberjack defense with nine tackles apiece.
"I have been here for three years now and that was the most electrifying crowd I have ever been around," said Poe. "I hope they can keep it up because it makes us play better and we feed off the Dome Field Advantage."
Northern Arizona will hit the road for the next two games with trips to Montana State (Oct. 5) and Sacramento State (Oct. 12).