[Vandal] With These Two, Expect The Unexpected

robiegruss at aol.com robiegruss at aol.com
Tue Nov 2 08:38:47 PDT 2021

>From The Lewiston TribuneLewiston, IdahoTuesday, November 2, 2021
With These Two, Expect The Unexpected

Commentary by Stephan Wiebe
MOSCOW — The two teams are far from rivals. Northern Arizona hadn’t even played Idaho at the Kibbie Dome in 27 years before Saturday.
Yet every time the Lumberjacks and Vandals scuffle on the gridiron, the game seems to induce a mixture of head scratching and jaw dropping. And it’s always close.
That was the case two years ago when the teams combined for 113 total points in an Idaho overtime victory that featured an unlikely 563-yard performance from Mason Petrino. It was the case again in the spring when NAU won almost solely thanks to its special teams. A blocked punt and a four-field goal performance by kicker Luis Aguilar were the difference in that one.
So nobody should’ve been surprised when Saturday produced another wacky and exciting showdown between the two Big Sky football foes. In case you missed it, the Lumberjacks (4-4, 3-2 Big Sky) defeated Idaho (2-6, 1-4) in the latest rendition, 38-31.
Let’s go down the list of peculiar and spectacular plays and stats.
Idaho fullback Logan Kendall continues to be a bumper car — er, bumper truck — with the ball in his hands. He broke about half a dozen tackles and it took three Lumberjacks to drag him down on a 26-yard run that helped set up Idaho’s first touchdown.
That’s one.
NAU quarterback RJ Martinez bounded around, ran into his own lineman and fumbled the football on a sack by Idaho linebacker Fa’avae Fa’avae. Charles Akanno was there to scoop up the ball on one hop and score a 5-yard defensive touchdown on Idaho’s first takeaway in four games.
The play incited so much hype that the Idaho bench drew a penalty because players left the sideline.
That’s two.
NAU four times went down the field on five or fewer plays for scores. On the other end of the spectrum, the ’Jacks had a handful of three-and-outs and the hands of the Idaho defense.
There’s three.
Reminiscent of NAU’s special teams heroics in the spring, NAU used a fake punt to score a 50-yard touchdown. Punter DJ Arnson threw his arms up, acting like the punt went over his head while upback Harrison Beemiller scampered up the far sideline for the score.
Then four.
Arnson makes another appearance on the list with an accidental kneel-down on a low snap in the fourth quarter. The snafu gave Idaho the ball at the NAU 32-yard line down one score with 1:30 left in the game.
And five.
But Idaho couldn’t capitalize on it as quarterback Mike Beaudry was intercepted on the very next play, his third of the game. Beaudry did, however, throw for 306 yards and his return for the first time in three games gave the Vandal offense life.
And finally, six.
A couple miscellaneous statistics to round out the chaos — Idaho held an eight-minute advantage in time of possession and NAU hurt itself with nine penalties for 90 yards.
Both teams put out big plays and overall performances worthy of a win and both teams shot themselves in the foot time and time again.
At the end of it, NAU escaped with a victory in a game that came down to Idaho’s final offensive play.The effort is there for the Vandals and a cleaner game would’ve won it.
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