NAU LUMBERJACKS 2016
Big Sky Opener vs #5 Eastern Washington Eagles A Must Win for #25 Lumberjacks
Wow. Here we go. The start of Big Sky Conference play and the Jacks have their backs against the wall. This game agains the Eagles is one I would prefer to see at the end of the season.
Last season the Jacks went to EW and won 52-30 behind a great run game that saw Corbin Jountti score three TD's and Casey Jahn score twice. Case Cookus tossed one TD to Emmanuel Butler with no interceptions. The NAU Defense made some game changing plays to slow down the Eagles and their high powered offense.
The Eagles have some guys hurt and one or two that may not play. They are 2-1 with the loss being a close one 44-50 to North Dakota State. EW opened with a 45-42 win over Pac-12 Washington State, then last week pulled a win out in the last seconds 34-30 over Northern Iowa of the Missouri Valley Conference, yep, that conference. The same FCS Conference that has Western Illinois in it.
NAU opened at Arizona State, the Sun Devils of the Pac-12. The game was close up until the middle of the third quarter. Then ASU pulled away for the win 44-13. It was a game worth playing, much was learned. In week two the Lumberjacks traveled to Western Illinois and came out fast and took an early lead in the first quarter 13-3. After that the wheels came off. Not because NAU could not move the ball, but because situations keep arising to stop NAU, penalties, many unexplainable.
One, called on NAU instead of WIU and had to be changed. There was the mysterious "band aid" time out, called so an official could be attended to. 911 could have gotten it done quicker.That stopped NAU as they were moving the ball well. WIU was an FCS foe and that loss will haunt the Jacks when the playoffs are decided. I do believe that the visitors got "home towned" on that trip, just my opinion.
Because of the FCS, WIU loss Northern Arizona needs to beat #5 Eastern Washington this week. It does not matter if it is a triple overtime one point win or a blow out. NAU will spend the rest of the 2016 season in chase mode if they cannot get this win. This may be the most talented NAU team on offense in many years. In fact, I do believe that the Hall of Fame inductee last Saturday, QB Jason Murrietta was running the ship for the last great offense prior to Case Cookus.
FYI: NAU beat the Eagles in last two meetings, EW was ranked in the top four both times. Jacks are on a six game win streak at home. Plus they are 15-1 in regular season games at the Sky Dome since 2013. In 2013 and 2015 they were unbeaten at home.
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