MOSCOW, Idaho – With a nod to “Sesame Street,” this game is brought to you by the number 5.
Idaho and Northern Arizona are each sitting at 4-7, 2-5 in the Big Sky Conference, going into the season finale for each Saturday in Flagstaff, Arizona. While the year is winding down in disappointing fashion for both teams, a fifth victory would allow the Vandals to improve on back-to-back four-win seasons since they returned to the Big Sky Conference, and it would allow the Lumberjacks to avoid their worst record since 2011.
NAU will try to send out senior quarterback Case Cookus on a high note. After an injury-marred career, he became NAU’s all-time leader in passing yards, passing touchdowns and total offense after throwing for 3,664 yards and 28 touchdowns against seven interceptions this season.
“He’s one of the best,” Idaho coach Paul Petrino said of Cookus.
Idaho would like senior stalwarts such as All-America offensive guard Noah Johnson; cornerback Lloyd Hightower (36 tackles, two forced fumbles, two interceptions); quarterback Mason Petrino (171 completions in 281 attempts for 1,746 yards with 12 touchdowns and nine interceptions); and wide receiver Jeff Cotton (70 receptions, 911 yards, five touchdowns) to conclude their time with a victory.
Cotton said he would like to finish his career with 1,000 yards receiving as a senior.
Idaho has done well lately in final games, winning three of the last four.
In addition to Cookus, NAU features sophomore wide receiver Brandon Porter (76 catches for 1,048 yards and nine touchdowns).
“They will run the ball, too,” Paul Petrino said.
The Lumberjacks are led in rushing by senior Joe Logan (722 yards on 167 carries with 11 touchdowns). NAU has leaned heavily on its offense this year. The defense is in disarray with 10 players having either left the team or been dismissed.
Even though the season ends and Idaho fell short of its goal to make the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs, the final game is still a measure for the Vandals, sophomore nose guard Rahsaan Crawford said.
“Win the game. Go out the best way you can,” Crawford said.
“Let’s finish this thing right,” Paul Petrino added.
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