NAU closes season with lopsided loss to Southern Utah

The Lumberjacks finished the season 5-6, and 4-4 in the Big Sky Conference.

Casey Sapio/Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — Patrick Tyler threw five touchdown passes, tying Southern Utah’s single-game record, Mike Sharp became the school’s career leader with 29 TD receptions and the Thunderbirds beat Northern Arizona 48-21 on Saturday in the season finale for both teams.

Tyler completed 20 of 35 for 288 yards with one interception and Sharp had 139 yards receiving with three scores. Malik Brown had 161 yards rushing and two touchdowns.

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NAU’s Blake Kemp hit Emmanuel Butler for a 26-yard touchdown that tied it with 1:25 left in the half, but 30 seconds later Tyler connected with Sharp on a 73-yard catch-and-run to make it 28-21.

On the first possession of the second half, Kemp threw an interception to Mike Needham and, eight plays later, Sharp’s 2-yard touchdown catch put SUU (6-5, 5-3 Big Sky) in front for good. After Junior Tufuga stopped Kemp for no gain on fourth-and-1, Sharp added a 35-yard TD catch to become the Thunderbirds’ career leader with 29 touchdown receptions.

Needham’s second interception, which he returned 45 yards to the 25, set up Logan Parker’s 16-yard touchdown catch that capped the scoring.

"I thought our guys gave it all we had today," NAU coach Jerome Souers said. "We were really banged up entering the game and didn’t have a lot of our key players on offense. This wasn’t how we wanted to finish our season and I know that the team wanted to close out with a win."

Butler had six catches for 100 yards for Northern Arizona (5-6, 4-4). He became the first two-time 1,000-yard receiver in school history. Butler finished the season with 1,003 yards. Last season, he broke the school season record with 1,208 yards.

"It’s a great accomplishment and I’m humbled," Butler said. "Of course, I wish we would have won today to make it better."