Defense, kickers shine in NAU scrimmage

Defense, kickers shine in NAU scrimmage

Published Aug. 20, 2012 10:08 a.m. ET

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. -- For the second consecutive scrimmage, the defense and kicking game showed well as the Northern Arizona football team continued preparations for its season opener at Arizona State on Aug. 30. The defense forced four turnovers and held the offense without a touchdown in Friday night's scrimmage.

"I thought the defense did a good job of creating some turnovers and holding them out of the end zone," said defensive coordinator Andy Thompson. "Those are things that help you win some games. I was proud of that."

The battle for field-goal duties showcased the legs of junior Andy Wilder and freshman Ryan Hawkins. They combined to go 7 for 8 overall.

"There is a lot of competitive tension with our specialists," said coach Jerome Souers. "Both snappers are pushing each other. Andy Wilder is shaping into our punter and coming into form. The last couple days have been really significant. I don't think our placekicking duties could be any closer than it is right now between Andy Wilder and Ryan Hawkins."

The scrimmage started with a 25-yard run by junior Zach Bauman that was negated by offsetting penalties. Overall, there were eight flags in the scrimmage.  Bauman finished with 43 yards on eight carries, and Covaughn DeBoskie-Johnson had 44 yards on four rushes. Junior wideout Ify Umodu had a team-best three catches.

"Our offense made some plays tonight that were negated by penalties and mistakes that had been uncharacteristic of that unit," said Souers. "We look forward to going back to work tomorrow with a different sense of urgency (and) with an approach to take care of those mistakes."

Quarterback Cary Grossart went 12 for 19 for 126 yards, while Chase Cartwright finished 4 for 8 for 83 yards and an interception.

"We set the scrimmage to be as game-like as we could," said Souers. "We exposed some things that we have to work on. We had too many mistakes tonight: penalties, ball security and missed assignments. All in all, I know we have practiced better and we are capable of better. They are fixable. If there is a positive, we have time to fix it."

Souers was again pleased by the defensive effort shown in the scrimmage.

"I am glad to see the defense play good rush defense, creating turnovers and being destructive," said Souers. "It is the type of defense we aspire to be, and that group played well tonight."