NAU’s fourth-quarter rally comes up short in loss to Northern Colorado

GREELEY, Colo. — Kyle Sloter threw for a touchdown, ran in another score and Northern Colorado held on to win its Big Sky Conference opener 21-18 over Northern Arizona on Saturday.

Northern Colorado 21, NAU 18

Tied at a touchdown apiece in the first quarter, Brandon Cartagena ran in the go-ahead TD from the 12 and Sloter padded the lead with a 3-yard scoring run with 1:27 left in the half to take a 21-10 advantage into the break. Trae Riek had 107 yards on 21 carries and another 43 yards receiving, including a 27-yard touchdown grab in the first quarter for the Bears (3-1).

Northern Arizona (1-4, 0-2) shaved the gap in the fourth quarter with a 2-yard touchdown pass from Blake Kemp to Elijah Marks. Kemp then connected with Kendyl Taylor for the two-point conversion to pull within a field goal, 21-18, with 2:34 left.

"We made too many mistakes today," NAU coach Jerome Souers said. "I’m proud of our athletes, the way they came back and didn’t quit. We played hard at times, but we didn’t play smart. We had too many penalties, and it seemed like we had a major one on every drive. The turnovers, especially in the red zone, absolutely killed us. You can’t turn the ball over inside the five-yard line and expect to win a ballgame."

Kemp finished 35 of 46 for 273 yards.