A three-and-out on their opening drive signified the struggles to come for the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks Saturday afternoon at the Walkup Skydome.
Scoring on their second play from scrimmage, the Western Illinois Leathernecks never trailed in the 38-20 victory and spoiled the Lumberjacks' home opener.
More costly than the loss itself, Northern Arizona's All-American receiver Emmanuel Butler left the game with 9:55 remaining in the first quarter. Starting defensive tackle Jalen Goss and starting cornerback Khalil Dorsey also left the game with injuries and did not return.
Western Illinois took a 10-0 lead through the game's first 25 minutes before freshman Stone Smartt sneaked through the offensive line with Lumberjacks quarterback Case Cookus split out wide. Another 14 straight points for the Leathernecks put distance between the two schools, while Cookus connected on his first two touchdown passes of the year in the second half as the Lumberjacks tried to rally.
Now 0-2 this season, Northern Arizona is off next weekend before heading to Cal Poly on Sept. 23.
For more on today's game, see Sunday's Arizona Daily Sun.