|Click to view album: SUU vs. Northern Arizona 2012|
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (ABC 4 Sports) - Cody Larsen sacked Cary Grossart on fourth-and-three from the SUU five to seal the win as Southern Utah claimed the inaugural Grand Canyon trophy with a 35-29 triple-overtime win over Northern Arizona 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 eight-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 clock to the game 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 with 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 get to 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.
SUU wasn’t to be denied, however. NAU got a first down on second and 10 when Zach Bauman carried the ball to the SUU 12, but after a three-yard Bauman run the Thunderbirds forced an incompletion as Larsen chased Grossart out of the pocket. The ‘Jacks then ran an end=-around for four yards, but on fourth an done Larsen chased Grossart across the field, finally sacking him at the 20 yard line to end the game.
“On the other play he had laid out and missed the sack, you could tell (Larsen) was tired, he had left it all out there, but then he found a little bit more,” SUU Coach Ed Lamb said. “I think he made the decision ‘I’m either going to die on this play or I’nm going to make the sack. It was awesome. He can take over a play when he wants to, he’s saved our butts all season.
“So many of our seniors stepped up today.” Lamb added “NAU still has a lot to play for, but our seniors were playing in their last game and that’s a powerful thing.”