FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — Adam Damante completed 23 of 30 passes with a touchdown, Northern Arizona added a touchdown pass on a trick play and the Lumberjacks stymied Montana 28-14 on Saturday in a Big Sky Conference opener.
Montana entered the game 3-0 and ranked among the Top 15 FCS teams while NAU was 0-3, but the Lumberjacks flipped the script from the opening whistle.
The Lumberjacks used a blocked punt on Montana's first possession and a long drive to open a quick 14-0 lead. The play after Dustin Reynolds block, Damante threw a 24-yard touchdown pass to Hendrix Johnson. Devon Starling's 2-yard touchdown run capped the 15-play, 75-yard drive that took more than eight minutes.
The Griz used an interception to set up a short-field touchdown. The Lumberjacks used a Montana fumble to answer that, with running back Chase Belcher finding Marcus Phillips Jr., behind the defense for a 48-yard score. A 75-yard, seven-play Montana drive cut the gap to 21-14 at the half.
Alex McLaughlin's 25-yard interception return set the Lumberjacks up at midfield and midway through the third quarter Keyonta Lanier scored on a four-yard run.
After a pair of punts, the Grizzlies then turned it over on downs three-straight times. Their longest drive was the 75-yard touchdown late in the second quarter and never had a drive last more than nine plays. Only two drives lasted more than five plays.
Northern Arizona had 396 yards and kept the ball 11 minutes longer than Montana. Damante had 212 yards passing and the Lumberjacks had 136 on the ground. Defensive lineman Eloi Kwere had two of NAU's four sacks, 2.5 of the 10 tackles for loss and forced a fumble.
Montana finished with 244 yards, 31 on the ground. Sam Vidlak was 23 of 37 for 210 yards passing. Three players had double-figure tackles but the Griz didn't have a sack and had just three tackles behind the line of scrimmage.
AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-football-poll