Bears football finally picks up first win after tumultuous week

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University of Northern Colorado receiver Noah Sol runs a route in an Oct. 6 game against UC Davis at Nottingham Field in Greeley. Photo by Betty Gebregzabheir

The University of Northern Colorado football team finally ended its losing streak in a big way over Northern Arizona University. What started out as a competitive game quickly turned into a shining moment for the Bears.

The Bears win came with scores on offense, defense and special teams. A true well-balanced, team win.

While the Bears have not been good candidates to win any game this season, UNC was especially unfavored due to the 12 suspended players list that came out Thursday night.

12 players, mostly seniors, were suspended for missing curfew during the road game at Portland State. The suspension is only for the NAU game, but still Coach Collins stuck to his morals rather than his best chance to win.

“You just got to stick to your morals and values,” Collins said after the game. “This lesson will help them later in life.”

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While the school and coach Collins refused to release the names, it became quite evident who the players affected were.

Nonetheless, the Bears overcame their latest adversity in a 42-14 win.

The Suspended List

Marques Combs Collin Root
Trae Riek Keifer Glau
Henry Stelzner Keifer Morris
Michael McCauley Alex Wesley
Conor Regan Peter Mitchell
Denzel Hatcher Kody Mommaerts

Bold – Verified by sources, did not play          Non-bold – Unverified, but did not play

How It Happened

First Half

The Bears started off with an exciting drive by marching down the field in only three plays. On the fourth play Willie Fairman caught the ball, then at the four the ball was pushed out, but Fairman jumped on top of his own fumble for a Bear touchdown. UNC went for two, but it was no good.

With both kickers suspended, Noah Sol, a receiver, was the lone hope for the Bears.

“We were just going to send him out to squib kick every time, but after we gave him a chance he showed us he can really boot it,” Collins said. “No extra points, though, since he about took off my quarterback’s fingers in practice.”

NAU would have a punt and the Bears would slow down too with a turnover on downs in Lumberjack territory.

The ‘Jacks would finally be inspired by a Joe Logan run combined with an Isiah Swopes penalty that led to a touchdown just a few plays later.

UNC would get one first down and then have to punt again. The punt put NAU deep on their side of the field. A bad snap and small gains in running would lead to another NAU punt.

On what should have been a punt came a great block by Jerrone Jackson to cause a fumble and a Bears touchdown recovered in the endzone.

Two-point conversions were much harder to come by this week as the Bears failed again.

Both offenses went through a cooling off period as NAU punted and missed a field goal, while the Bears threw an interception and punted.

The Lumberjacks finally made another score with Gino Campiotti and Joe Logan marching down the field on a 10-play drive going 79 yards eventually for a touchdown.

Half time: Northern Arizona 14, UNC 12

Second Half

The second half was disastrous for the Lumberjacks and glorious for the Bears.

Two plays into the half Isiah Swopes picked off NAU, although it would result in a Bears punt just a few plays later.

The Lumberjacks quarterback showed high levels of inexperience. This was evident when the quarterback fumbled the ball backwards and no Bear nor Lumberjack could recover the ball as it went 22 yards back into the endzone for a safety.

Getting the ball after the safety, Mott made great gains with completions to Willie Fairman and Dontay Warren. While the Bears got to the goal line it brought up a fourth and goal. The Bears elected to go for it. Mott fumbled the snap and no immediate reads opened up, so he sprinted for the endzone. With defenders closing in Mott had to dive for the goal line to be able to score.

Dontay Warren came in at quarterback for a designed run and successful two-point conversion.

Noah Sol really came into play when he kicked off 65 yards for a touchback, something Coach Collins explained he had not hit in practice, which made it especially impressive come game time.

Nothing would come from NAU nor UNC’s next drives. After punting the Bears got the ball back on the next play from NAU quarterback’s second fumble.

UNC would again find the endzone, this time with a first-time college touchdown catch by former Greeley West standout Darren DeLaCroix.

NAU could not sustain a drive longer than five plays for the rest of the game. This drive would be ended by a Luke Nelson interception. Mott would again find Fairman for 30 yards and Dontay for a touchdown. Justice Littrell then ran in the two-point conversion.

NAU was not done hurting its pride since two plays later they would throw a 46-yard interception for a Bears touchdown.

The rest of the game would consist of punts till the clock struck zero. That moment the clock ran out finally the Bears could celebrate the end of a game. The Bears had finally done it, they won.

Final:  UNC 42 – Northern Arizona 14 

The Mirror’s Keys to the Game Checklist

Defense:

  • Stop Emanuel Butler: Limited to three catches for 32 yards is a truly impressive stat.
  • Allow Fewer Points: Yes, the defense looked great with causing interceptions and fumbles while only giving up 14 points.
  • Cause Turnovers: UNC caused five turnovers overall, which is incredible since some weeks have been zero.

Offense:

  • No More Interceptions: Mott did throw one interception, but that is a vast improvement over Regan’s three interceptions versus Portland State.
  • Balanced Attack: Milo Hall finally had a 100-yard rushing game and Dontay Warren and Willie Fairman showed great athletic talent at receiver.
  • Score Early: Scoring on the first drive gave the whole team a sense of pride and confidence.

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