NAU ousted from FCS playoffs by South Dakota State
NAU eliminated in first round of FCS playoffs with 26-7 loss to South Dakota State.
By ASSOCIATED PRESSFS Arizona
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. -- Zach Zenner rushed for 249 yards and two touchdowns to lead South Dakota State to a 26-7 victory over Northern Arizona Saturday night.
After a scoreless first quarter, Northern Arizona got on the board first at 9:56 in the second on a 6-yard Zach Bauman run. Zenner answered for the Jackrabbits (9-4) with an 87-yard touchdown run on first down to put the halftime score at 7-7.
In the third quarter, Bauman was dropped for an SDSU safety. On the Jackrabbits' next possession, Zenner rushed 34 yards for a second touchdown to put South Dakota State up 16-7.
South Dakota State shut out Northern Arizona in the second half, scoring 19 unanswered points, including a Justin Syrovatka field goal and a Reginald Gandy rushing touchdown.
Kyren Poe threw for 216 yards for the Lumberjacks (9-3), and Bauman rushed for 101 yards and a touchdown.
NAU was without coach Jerome Souers, who was dealing with complications from a necessary back surgery. Defensive coordinator Andy Thompson served as interim coach for the Lumberjacks' first playoff appearance in 10 years.
“Not having your head coach is tough, but I think the kids prepared well and worked hard,” said Thompson. “We didn't execute well, and I think that was the big difference. They were able to execute and score, and we didn't do a great job stopping them. We weren’t able to score on offense, so it came down to execution.”
Bauman's touchdown run made him NAU's all-time scoring leader with 310 career points. It was the final game for the celebrated senior.
“I hate losing more than I love winning, but it’s my senior season and I finally made it to a playoff game, so that's a plus,” said Bauman. “I would have liked to go out with a couple more wins.”
The Lumberjacks finished the season with a 9-3 overall record for the second straight season.
"I just want to say we had a great senior class,” said Thompson. “I’m so proud of Zach. He had a tremendous career and he’s a great competitor. He gave it everything, and even at the end he was fighting for extra yards. He's a tremendous, tremendous competitor, along with all the other seniors.”