FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — Cody Larsen sacked Cary Grossart on fourth-and-three from the SUU 5-yard line to seal the win as Southern Utah claimed the inaugural Grand Canyon trophy with a 35-29 triple-overtime win over Northern Arizona on Saturday.
The Thunderbirds finished the season 4-4 in Big Sky play and 5-6 overall, while handing the Lumberjacks their first loss in Big Sky play and their first defeat since a season-opening loss at Arizona. NAU dipped to 8-2 overall, 6-1 in BSC play.
The game was a defensive battle through regulation, with SUU getting on the board first on a 55-yard Tommy Collet, Jr., interception return, then adding a safety on a blocked punt by Brad Meyer and a 42-yard Colton Cook field goal to take a 12-0 lead into halftime.
Northern Arizona scored the first offensive touchdown of the game in the third quarter, then took the lead early in the fourth quarter when Grossart hooked up with tight end R.J. Rickart on an 8-yard scoring pass, and with a two-point conversion the Lumberjacks held a 15-12 lead.
SUU answered, however, grinding down the field and eating up the game clock on a 19-yard Cook field goal as time expired in regulation.
After the defensive-oriented game, the overtime was anything but. SUU got the ball first and scored on a 4-yard Sorensen quarterback draw, but NAU answered with a 12-yard pass from Grossart to Duzjon Walker to tie it at 22-22.
On the next possession NAU quickly scored via a 17-yard pass from Grossart to Umodu, but again the Thunderbirds answered, this time on a 14-yard pass from Sorensen to Fatu Moala.
The deciding possession came in the third overtime, when Easton Pedersen broke two tackles to reach pay-dirt on a 22-yard hookup with Sorensen on third-and-seven. As per NCAA rules the Thunderbirds had to go for a two-point conversion, and although Sorensen found Moala on a play very similar to the second OT touchdown, Moala wasn't able to bring it in, leaving the door open for the Lumberjacks.
CENTRAL WASHINGTON 51, DIXIE STATE 19: At Ellensburg, Wash., for the second straight year, the Dixie State College football team saw its regular season come to an end in cold and blustery conditions at Tomlinson Stadium. After overnight snow cleared off the natural grass surface, the host Wildcats cruised to a 51-19 victory over the Red Storm and claimed, at worse, a share of the 2012 Great Northwest Athletic Conference football title.
The Wildcats (7-4, 7-3 GNAC) were led by a 192-yard, three-touchdown performance by freshman running back Jordan Todd and a solid game from senior quarterback Ryan Robertson. He missed on just one pass, going 18-of-19 for 249 yards and three touchdown passes.
Dixie State's (3-8, 3-7 GNAC) offense saw three different signal callers during the season finale and each added had a touchdown pass. Junior quarterback Griff Robles went 9-of-23 for 150 yards, including a touchdown to Zack Fox in the first quarter.
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Kaleo Nawahine fired his touchdown strike to Mitch Frei midway in the fourth quarter for eight yards. Brody Garr saw his first action in the offense in the Storm's final drive and connected with Brock Johnson on a screen pass for an 18-yard score. Even wide receiver Conor Sklarsky completed a pass on a double reverse for 17 yards to Robles in the third quarter.
Freshman backer Myles Burton had 50 yards on nine carries, accounting for half the team's rushing output.
Cache Morgan closed his collegiate career with 13 tackles, 10 of them solo for the DSC defense. Freshman Caleb McCray had one of his best games totaling seven stops.
Central outgained Dixie State 480-333 in total yardage and used a balanced attack all day (226 rush, 254 pass).