NAU Makes History In Tucson- Beat The Wildcats

Own the ball. That’s the mantra the Northern Arizona University Lumberjacks live by in 2021. 

They did that tonight in a 21-19 win over the University of Arizona. It was an improbable win, but not one that this team didn’t think would happen. Despite being down 13-0 with 13:05 left in the second quarter, NAU’s offense began dominating time of possesion.

“For our players it’s very satisfying,” coach Chris Ball said. “This is a building block moment for our program.”

With 74 players from state 48 on the roster, the chip on each shoulder grew larger in anticipation of this matchup. Going to an FCS school, when you think you can play at an FBS in your state is humbling. It showed Saturday night in Tucson. 

Leading the offense was running back Kevin Daniels, who played at Glendale high school. He finished with 27 carries for 109 yards and a touchdown.

“They had the chance, they didn’t want me,” Daniels said about Arizona and other FBS schools. “I’m so grateful that coach Ball came and got me and I’m glad to be here.”

On the opening drive of the game, NAU’s defense forced the Wildcats to go three and out. The tone was set, and they never let up. The turning point came on a pick six by former Hamilton star Brady Shough in the second quarter.

His forced turnover was one of three the Lumberjacks stingy defense forced. Former South Mountain high player Devontae Ingram added a pick in the second half.

The Lumberjacks used three quarterbacks in this game. The third was RJ Martinez, who found a rhythm in the second half.

“I was asked to step up and make big plays,” Martinez said. “Coach always has me ready to play and tonight I was.”

What This Means

This game holds no weight for NAU as far as the rest of the season goes in the Big Sky Conference. However, the momentum and confidence they’ve gained is immeasurable.

“We’re just ready to go on and play the rest of our season,” Ball said. “This team is going to need to keep grinding in order for us to accoplish all of our goals at the end of the year.”

For Arizona, this marks a dark spot as the losing streak extends to 15. The Jedd Fisch era is not off to a great start. There’s much work to be done.

Jordan Spurgeon is a journalist who is graduating from ASU at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication in December 2021. He enjoys covering sports all across the valley and telling feature stories that impact people.