GRAND FORKS, N.D. (AP) — Cary Grossart threw four touchdown passes and Northern Arizona won its fifth straight game, defeating North Dakota 45-38 on Saturday.
Zach Bauman ran for 176 yards and a touchdown early in the fourth quarter that broke a 31-31 tie. The Lumberjacks (5-1, 3-0 Big Sky), who won just four games last season, have their longest winning streak since 2008.
Braden Hanson threw three touchdown passes for North Dakota (3-4, 1-3) before leaving with an undisclosed injury. Marcus Hendrickson came in and threw a TD pass to Greg Hardin — his second of the game — to get North Dakota within 45-38, but that was the end of the scoring.
Jameer Jackson also caught two touchdown passes and had 105 receiving yards for North Dakota. Ify Umodu had nine catches for 118 yards for NAU, and Grossart finished with 363 passing yards.
“It was a typical Big Sky game,” said NAU coach Jerome Souers. “A lot of things happened out there. Our offense really stepped up in the second half. Our kids made plays in the fourth quarter, and that is what I like about this team.”
The Lumberjacks had fallen behind 31-24 in the third quarter but got back in the game after Austin Shanks was hit out of bounds on a punt return, setting up a short field on the North Dakota 37. NAU scored four plays later to tie the score at 31-all, then went on 99-yard drive on the following possession that culminated in Bauman’s go-ahead touchdown run.
“It seemed like in the fourth quarter, we were wearing them down,” said Souers. “We had more success running the ball, and Cary had some nice conversions. The bottom line: To come in here and get a win is a big deal for us.”
Bauman missed the second quarter with an injury but returned to run for 114 yards in the second half. NAU finished with a season-high 568 yards of offense.
“The game required us to step up on offense” said Souers. “We had some big plays out of the run and pass.”
It was the schools’ first meeting since 1985.
NAU returns home to host UC Davis for homecoming next week at the Walkup Skydome.