UA, NAU football back to winning; Jacks upset No. 9 MSU

While Arizona State football enjoyed a week off, those other college teams in Flagstaff and Tucson got back on the winning track in Saturday’s games.

The University of Arizona did what was expected against the last-place team in the Pac-10, dispatching Washington State despite losing quarterback Nick Foles early in the game.

Back up QB Matt Scott led the No. 17 Wildcats to a 24-7 win in Pullman, bringing the season record to 5-1 and 2-1 in conference.  Keola Antolin rushed for 92 yards and two touchdowns, and Nic Grigsby added another 66 yards to pick up the offensive slack after Foles went down.

Scott, who was sacked five times, gained just 139 yards on 14-of-20 passing as the Cats were only able to pick up 352 yards of offense against a team that normally allows 500 yards or more.

The 6’3″ junior may be pressed into service again next week, since Foles, the leading passer in the Pac-10, is expected to be out for at least a couple of weeks with a sprained knee.

But Northern Arizona had a much bigger challenge, taking on No. 9 (FCS) Montana State.  And, consequently, their victory was that much bigger.

The Lumberjacks, playing at home at the Walkup Skydome, left little doubt that they weren’t intimidated by the Bobcats as they scored on four of their first five possessions and led 28-0 at halftime.  Each team scored once in the second half, and the Jacks wrapped up the evening with a stunning 34-7 win.

NAU is using a quarterback, Michael Herrick, who transferred in from Ole Miss.  Noles at UofA came to Tucson by way of Michigan State.  And Arizona State is being guided by Steven Threet, who actually started for the University of Michigan before packing up and heading for the desert.

The Arizona schools are getting some great mileage out of these retreads this year.

Herrick lit up the first half against Montana State, throwing for 233 yards before intermission.  He finished with 281 yards on 32-of-43 passing.

The first half was football execution at its best on the NAU side.

Montana State coach, Rob Ash, agreed.  “NAU was tremendously prepared and executed in every phase of the game,” he said afterward. “They played fast, they played sharp, and they hit everything.”

High praise for a team that gave up three first-half interceptions last week and sputtered offensively in a 21-14 loss last week to No. 13 Eastern Washington.  That loss dropped them from the Top 25 rankings.

But this week was different.  And Ash readily admitted the Bobcats had their hands full right out of the chute.

The Jacks went 99 yards in 19 plays for their first score and continued to control the game, keeping the Bobcats off the scoreboard until the fourth quarter.  They picked up 21 first downs in the first half, eating up 336 total yards while allowing Montana State just one first down and 19 yards.

Austin Shanks put an exclamation mark on the first half when he pulled in a 15-yard Herrick pass to close the half and extend the lead to 28-0.  He and Daiveun Curry-Chapman combined for 16 catches on the night, resulting in 144 yards and three TDs.

After the dust settled and the stats were compiled for the entire game, the Jacks found out they had held the second-ranked offense in the FCS to just 123 yards.

Local product, Zach Bauman, was a dual-threat running back in this game.  The freshman from Hamilton High School in Chandler accumulated a total 138 yards, 71 on the ground and 67 on receptions.

The Lumberjacks will take on Montana on the road next week.  The Grizzlies, 4-1 in the Big Sky Conference, are coming off a 23-21 win over Portland State.

The Wildcats will host Washington next week for their Homecoming.  The Huskies, 2-1 in the Pac-10, are also coming off a drama-filled win as they went to double-overtime before prevailing, 35-34, over Oregon State.

ASU will travel to Berkeley to take on California, which is 1-2 in conference and will be coming off an embarrassing 48-14 loss to USC.

(Photo: NAU Athletics)