NAU starts anew in Big Sky play

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. -- Northern Arizona opens Big Sky Conference play Saturday No. 14 Montana.

The Lumberjacks won the last two meetings against the Grizzlies; the pair did not face each other last season.

NAU head coach Jerome Souers coached at Montana from 1986-97. NAU defensive coordinator Andy Thompson and safeties coach David Reeves both played at Montana.

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The Lumberjacks (2-1) fell from the FCS Top 25 after they suffered their first loss of the season on the road at FBS-ranked Arizona.

NAU struck first in Tucson, but the Wildcats were able to catch an offensive rhythm that saw them surge ahead. Leading the NAU offense is freshman quarterback Case Cookus. He has started the season completing 38 of 55 passes for 718 yards and six touchdowns. Cookus' top target is Emmanuel Butler, who has a team-high five touchdowns and 389 receiving yards. Josh Bamrick and Eddie Horn lead NAU in tackles with 19 apiece.

Case Cookus ranks first in the nation in yards per pass attempt at 13.05.

First-year Montana coach Bob Stitt has the Grizzlies off to a 1-2 start. They made a huge splash with a 38-35 season-opening victory over then-No. 1 North Dakota State.

Since then, the Grizzlies dropped two straight, to Cal Poly (non-conference game) and then-No. 14 Liberty.

Montana averages 26 points per game and holds its opponents to 28.7 points per game.