TUCSON, Arizona — RJ Martinez threw a 9-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter and Northern Arizona stopped a late 2-point conversion attempt, extending Arizona’s school-record losing streak to 15 games with a 21-19 victory Saturday night.
The Lumberjacks (1-2) didn’t play like a winless FCS program, coming to life offensively in the second half after struggling in the first. Kevin Daniels scored on a 12-yard TD run in the third quarter and Martinez found Hendrix Johnson in the back of the end zone for a 9-yard score.
Arizona still had one last chance.
Trailing 21-13, the Wildcats (0-3) marched quickly down the field and Jordan McCloud hit Boobie Curry on a 3-yard touchdown pass with 2:16 left. After multiple stops starts, the Lumberjacks pressured McCloud into an incomplete pass on the 2-point conversion.
Northern Arizona fair caught a pooch kick and wound down the clock, picking up one of the biggest wins in program history while ending a losing streak to Arizona that dated to 1932.
Arizona hired coach Jedd Fisch in hopes of ending a losing streak that stretched back to October 2019. The former NFL and college assistant did all the right things off the field, generating a buzz around the program.
Not much has changed on the field so far.
The Wildcats took away some positives after rallying late in a 24-16 loss to No. 23 BYU, but little went right in last week’s 38-14 loss to San Diego State.
Arizona’s defense was sharp against NAU after giving up 454 yards last week, creating three turnovers and holding the Lumberjacks to 87 first-half yards.
The offense couldn’t get out of its own way.
Arizona’s offensive line struggled with the Lumberjacks’ quickness early and the Wildcats were held to a pair of field goals after starting deep in NAU’s end.
Will Plummer found Curry on a 49-yard TD pass, but also threw an interception that Shough returned 28 yards for a touchdown just before halftime, pulling NAU within 13-7.
Arizona’s defense then started to bend in the third quarter.
The Wildcats had two players get ejected for targeting and the Lumberjacks picked their way down the field, taking a 14-13 lead on Daniels’ TD run.
An interception by Devontae Ingram set NAU up near midfield and the Lumberjacks took advantage of poor Arizona tackling on two long third downs to keep the drive going. Martinez put NAU up 21-13 with his TD pass to Johnson.
McCloud replaced Plummer — who finished 19-of-34 passing for 191 yards with two interceptions — for Arizona’s final offensive possession going 6 of 7 for 66 yards
Northern Arizona sputtered offensively most of the night, but moved the ball when it needed to and shut down Arizona to pick up one of the biggest wins in program history.
Arizona suffered one of its worst losses ever, plagued by poor tackling and an ineffective offense.
Northern Arizona plays at Northern Colorado next Saturday.
Arizona opens Pac-12 play at No. 4 Oregon next Saturday.