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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

COMIC: Rat’s Nest #3
Olivia MoreyFebruary 28, 2024
 

Wildcats dominate Lumberjacks in home opener

Arizona+Quarterback+Brandon+Dawkins+%2813%29+pushes+through+NAU+defense+and+scores+a+touchdown+during+the+UA-NAU+game+on+Saturday%2C+Sept.+2.
Simon Asher
Arizona Quarterback Brandon Dawkins (13) pushes through NAU defense and scores a touchdown during the UA-NAU game on Saturday, Sept. 2.

Shun Brown did something Arizona didn’t do all of last season, score on special teams. Brown took a 66-yard punt to the house five minutes into the first quarter and the Wildcats were off to the races in a 62-24 rout of the NAU Lumberjacks, Saturday at Arizona Stadium.

NAU had different ideas at the beginning of the game, competing hard as running back Cory Young, a transfer from Boise State, took a handoff and ran it 58 yards to the end zone to tie the game up at seven.

The Arizona defense forced a couple turnovers to halt Lumberjack drives and was able to manufacture scores of their own. UA scored on a 46-yard Nick Wilson run and a 43-yard Tony Ellison reception to go up 21-7. NAU would score again on another Cory Young rush but the Wildcats answered quickly on a 55-yard Tyrell Johnson reverse that catapulted the Wildcats to a 14-point lead.

Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles picked of NAU quarterback Case Cookus who threw for 191 yards in the first half, twice. One of those picks stopped a Lumberjack scoring attempt in the red-zone. The other set up the Wildcats at the 50 yard line with less than three minutes.

“It was a good start,” Flannigan-Fowles said. “We did a whole lot of game plan during the week and learned their tendencies and what they like to do, so I was just trying to capitalize on the opportunities.”

The score could have been even greater if not for two crucial holding calls, both occurring during long Brandon Dawkins touchdown runs. Dawkins would score later in the quarter with 21 seconds on the clock to put Arizona up by 20 going into the half.

“I think Brandon, he was one of those guys that kind of took charge in the second half on some of the quarterback runs,” said Rodriguez. 

It would be much of the same in the second as Arizona extended its lead to 34 points by the end of the third quarter. 

The game was largely decided on the ground for Arizona. Six different rushers combined for 387 yards by the end of the third quarter, 506 total, Dawkins accounting for 92 on the ground himself and two scores. In the past two home games, Arizona has run for over 1,000 yards.

The passing game was virtually non-existent, either by choice or by design due to what NAU was showing on defense. In total, the Wildcats threw the ball just 14 times completing seven for 89 yards and a touchdown.

“We didn’t have to throw it in the second half,” Rodriguez said. “We weren’t getting any three and outs so we wanted to get our defense a little bit of rest and control the game by running the football.”

Arizona’s defense was big in key moments of the game, able to force Cookus into uncomfortable situations and a couple turnovers. Cookus was able to throw for 306 yards going into the fourth quarter on 38 pass attempts but the Lumberjacks were 1-for-4 in the redzone prior to a score by Joe Logan 35 seconds into the final frame. NAU had self-inflicted wounds that cost them an opportunity to remain more competitive in the game. The cause for concern for Arizona will be the fact that they gave up nearly 600 total yards to an FCS school. That will have to improve moving forward.

The Wildcats will return to Arizona Stadium next Saturday to take on a more formidable opponent in the Houston Cougars. Kickoff is set for 7:30 pm.

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