Arizona scored touchdowns on each of its first seven possessions of the first half of its rout of the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks Saturday night in Tucson, 65-41.
Wildcats quarterback Khalil Tate capped off a five-play drive with a 47-yard touchdown pass to start the scoring surge. Then the Wildcats run game jumped out quickly as the Northern Arizona offense itself struggled to manufacture yardage.
Arizona running back JJ Taylor blew by Northern Arizona for a 40-yard run, only to be tackled by Harrison Beemiller to save a touchdown -- but Taylor got into the end zone a few plays later with a 25-yard run.
The big plays kept coming.
On the next Wildcats drive, after Arizona stopped Northern Arizona's offense, Gary Brightwell found room on the sideline for a massive 94-yard TD run to put Arizona up 21-0 in the first quarter.
By halftime the Wildcats led the Lumberjacks 51-13 -- the most first-half points given up by Northern Arizona in the program's history.
Case Cookus finished 28-of-48 for 373 yards, Hendrix Johnson had seven catches for 97 yards. Arizona had 517 total yards of offense in the first half alone.
Northern Arizona scored 28 points in the second half against mostly Wildcat backups, showing life late.
The Lumberjacks return to Flagstaff next week for Northern Arizona's Hall of Fame Weekend against Western New Mexico University, with kickoff set for 4 p.m. in the Walkup Skydome.
Arizona is slated to close out its nonconference schedule next week against Texas Tech in Tucson at 7:30 p.m.
Victoria Ewalefo and Heaven Harris turned back La Salle’s final swing at the net, sealing up a wild final set and Northern Arizona’s 20-25, 25-20, 25-15, 32-30 victory over the Explorers on Saturday.
The block was Northern Arizona's 15th of the match and came on its sixth match point as the Lumberjacks head home with a 3-3 overall record.
“We’ve been up 2-1 twice this year (and lost) and today showed that this team uses setbacks as an opportunity to grow as individuals and as a team,” said Lumberjacks head coach Ken Murphy. “Today, we had to grind it out, but when we’re playing our best we do that all the time. It was the closest we’ve been to understanding how to work through all of the mental factors that occurs during a match.”
La Salle used a 6-0 run to open up its largest lead of the match, 15-8, in the fourth set. But Northern Arizona chopped away at the deficit with a 5-0 run -- capped by a service ace from Taylor Jacobsen -- to close to 17-16.
Down 23-20 in the fourth stanza, Northern Arizona rallied for five of the next six points. Abby Akin gave the Lumberjacks their first match point at 25-24 with a kill, only for the Explorers to side out.
After La Salle staved off match points at 28-27, 29-28 and 30-29, Harris’ match-high 18th kill put her team in a position to clinch on its sixth match point. This time, the Lumberjacks capitalized on Harris and Ewalefo’s block.
Akin recorded her third career double-digit blocks match, the first since her freshman season, with 10 total rejections. All six of Northern Arizona's players across the net registered multiple blocks, limiting the Explorers to a .162 hitting percentage.
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“Abby got really hot and she was touching everything,” Murphy said. “She showed what she’s capable of. She wants to be a more impactful player and today was a step in that direction. When she was next to Heaven a couple of times, they formed a really good block together and that made it tough on (La Salle).”
The Lumberjacks, meanwhile, hit .336. Harris came up one kill shy of tying her career high, setting a season-best figure at 18 kills on .500 hitting. Akin added 11 kills and Sydney Lema contributed 10.
Harris and Lema were named to the all-tournament team. Harris led Northern Arizona in kills for the second straight weekend, totaling 38 and attacking at a .373 clip over the two-day tourney. Lema recorded double-doubles in each of the three matches and posted 30 kills, 40 digs and five aces in all.
La Salle, who had previously swept through Binghamton and Seton Hall this weekend, took care of business in the first set to stake itself to the early advantage. The Explorers moved ahead for good with a 7-1 run, which erased a 17-15 Lumberjack lead after Ewalefo and Ryann Davis teamed for a block. Although NAU hit .273 in the game, La Salle was plus-eight in the service game on four aces and four NAU errors.
The crucial third set was actually squared up at 10-10 until Northern Arizona used a massive 12-2 run to pull away. Lema, Harris and Jacobsen connected on consecutive kills to open the run, forcing a La Salle timeout, and Akin took care of the rest at the net. She totaled four blocks, combining with Harris and Jacobsen on two each, during a stretch where the Explorers committed six straight attack errors, and paired with Ryann Davis for a fifth rejection on set point for good measure.
Jacobsen led the team with a season-high 15 digs, with Lema coming up with 13 digs herself to notch her third double-double of the weekend, joining Akin as Lumberjacks with double-doubles on Saturday.
Northern Arizona is at home this upcoming weekend to host the Lumberjack Classic in the Rolle Activity Center.
The women's golf team will begin its 2019 fall season on Monday at the Hobble Creek Fall Classic hosted by Utah Valley in Springville, Utah.
The Lumberjacks will face a two-day, 54-hole tournament. The field will play two rounds on Monday and one Tuesday.
Big Sky Conference schools Northern Colorado, Portland State, Southern Utah and Weber State will be competing against a young Northern Arizona squad that took fifth place at the event last year.
Northern Arizona's top individual finisher a year ago was Aleksandra Chekalina, who took ninth place.
The Jacks will be entering the season with two freshmen added to the team in Alyza Flores and Lorel Hayward.
Chekalina, Ashley Croft and Elle Kocourkova will each begin their sophomore campaigns at Hobble Creek. Sara Padilla and Lexi Keene will start their junior seasons. Emma Reyes, Loren Skibba and Morgan Messick will make up the senior class for 2019.
The Lumberjacks are coming off a strong offseason.
Croft won the Dunbar Ladies Open Championship in Dunbar, Scotland. Chekalina finished second in the Russian Amateur Open Championship. Chekalina and Kocourkova, participated in the Czech International Junior U18 and 21 Championship in June.
This will be the first of five fall tournaments for Northern Arizona.