NAU’s Battle earns Big Sky’s weekly award

Northern Arizona junior cornerback Anders Battle was named the Big Sky Defensive Player of the Week on Monday, joining North Dakota wide receiver Greg Hardin (offense) and Cal Poly kicker/punter Bobby Zalud (special teams) among the players honored for their performances Saturday.
Battle, a 6-foot, 185-pound junior from Phoenix, Ariz., recorded a career-high 14 tackles with a forced fumble and a pass deflection in NAU’s 21-7 home win over UC Davis. Battle registered 11 solo stops, and his forced fumble in the second quarter set up the Lumberjacks’ second touchdown. NAU’s defense held UC Davis 181 passing yards and no passing touchdowns.
“It was a really tough game,” said Battle, a Desert Vista High School product. “We had to come out and play hard. I did what I was supposed do. I did what I have practiced, and it showed up on the field. The award goes out to the entire defense. I can’t do it without my teammates.”
NAU ranks first in the Big Sky against the pass (194.4 yards per game) and second overall in total defense (343.0). The Lumberjacks were seventh in the league last season against the pass at 251.4 yards per game.
Hardin, a 5-11, 170-pound junior from Bellevue, Neb., set a Big Sky single-game record with 333 receiving yards in North Dakota’s 40-34 victory Montana. Hardin caught 12 passes, three for touchdowns. His final catch resulted in the game-winning touchdown with 12 seconds left. The 333 receiving yards eclipsed the previous Big Sky record of 315. The 333 yards ranks fourth all-time in FCS history. Hardin finished the game with 420 all-purpose yards, second in Big Sky history and tied for the 10th in FCS history. Hardin’s 333 receiving yards are the most in any Division I game this season, as are his 420 all-purpose yards. Hardin’s touchdowns went for 39, 43 and 32 yards. His longest catch went for 81 yards.
Zalud, a 5-7, 190-pound junior from Carlsbad, Calif., made three field goals and four extra points in Cal Poly’s 37-25 win over Portland State. Zalud nailed field goals of 49, 41 and 20 yards. His 49-yard field goal in the second quarter gave the Mustangs their first lead of the game at 17-14, his 41-yarder in the third quarter put the Mustangs up 20-17and his third field goal got the Mustangs back within two points. This is Zalud’s second Player of the Week honor this season.

NAU has won six consecutive games for the first time since the 2008 season and is 6-1 overall for the ninth time in school history (‘23, ‘56, ‘57, ‘62, ‘76, ‘77, ‘93, ‘96, ‘08). With the six-game win streak, NAU has moved up to No. 13 in the Sports Network poll and No. 13 in the FCS Coaches poll, the highest ranking for the program since 2003.

The Lumberjacks haven’t won seven straight games since 1958, when they opened the season 11-0 and played for the NAIA national championship at the Holiday Bowl in St. Petersburg, Fla.