Back-up QB Perry leads NAU football to last-second win

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                </div>  College football fans in Flagstaff are becoming spoiled.  The weekend win over Eastern Washington is the eighth straight regular-season home victory for the Northern Arizona University football team. Lumberjack […]<!-- AddThis Sharing Buttons below -->
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College football fans in Flagstaff are becoming spoiled.  The weekend win over Eastern Washington is the eighth straight regular-season home victory for the Northern Arizona University football team.

Lumberjack fans have come to expect good things when they take their seat in the Walkup Skydome to enjoy an afternoon of college football.

And once again, they weren’t disappointed Saturday when the ‘Jacks pulled off a huge upset  win over No. 2-ranked Eastern Washington (FCS Coaches poll) in the final seconds of the game.

Very few of the 9,699 fans in attendance had headed for the exits in the waning minutes of a game that appeared to be lost – and that didn’t miss the attention of  NAU head coach Jerome Souers.

“I’m very proud of a our football program, our coaches, and everybody that has stuck with it.” said Souers, in his 17th season with the Division I program.  “The fans stayed until the very end (Saturday) when things didn’t look good.”

That would have been the last 5 minutes and 42 seconds of the game.  That was when the Eagles converted on a 29-yard field-goal attempt that made their lead 27-22 and required the Lumberjacks to come up with one last touchdown to win the game.

At that point, NAU was working with a third-string quarterback that hadn’t seen any serious game time at that position in four years and was faced with leading his team to a come-from-behind win after the starting quarterback left the game with an injury and 12 minutes remaining on the clock.

Chase Cartwright passed for 255 yards before exiting the game, leaving the job to Jordan Perry who functions as a wide receiver and reserve quarterback; he has appeared in just seven games since joining the program in 2010.  The Jacks were trailing 24-19 at that point and Perry got busy right away, moving his team on the first drive to within field-goal range and enabling Ryan Hawkins to drill a 42-yard attempt through the uprights and close the gap to two points.

Eastern Washington (7-2, 4-1) used a 29-yard field goal to spread the lead back to five points before Perry connected with Dan Galindo in the end zone with just 12 ticks left on the clock to pull out the heart-stopping 28-27 win that moved NAU to a 3-1 record in the Big Sky Conference and a game out of second place.

“Dan Galindo was my No. 1 read,” said Perry after the game.  “He’s got great speed.  I laid it out there and he ran underneath it… On one of the final plays of the game, we throw in a true freshman and he made it happen.”

Perry finished the night with 88 yards, completing four of his six passes and scoring one touchdown. Senior wide receiver Ify Umodu led the receiving corps with 132 yards.

The upset of Eastern Washington also moves the Jacks a step closer to getting back into the national rankings. They began the season ranked No. 23 in the Sports Network FCS Top 25 and inched up to No. 22 before getting knocked out of the rankings after a Sept. 20 loss to South Dakota.  In the last poll, the Jacks were just four points away from entering the rankings.

At 5-3 overall, the Jacks won’t be able to equal their 7-2 finish last year, which was good enough to get them into the playoffs. South Dakota State put an early end to their post-season run by knocking the Jacks out in the first round.

They finished with a 7-1 record in the Big Sky last year, and winning their final four games would get them there again this year.

That sounds like a tall order, and it is, but keep in mind that last year’s team finished that season with six straight wins.

And after this last improbable storybook ending, anything seems possible.

(Photo: NAU Athletics)