Lumberjacks look to continue success at home

Updated: October 17, 2003, 11:25 AM ET

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. -- Northern Arizona, unbeaten after three Big Sky Conference games for the first time in seven years, will try to keep the string going against another tough opponent.

Saturday's game against Eastern Washington will be the Lumberjacks' first at home this month after opening league play with three straight on the road.

The last one -- a 24-21 dogfight against Sacramento State -- took a fourth-quarter rally.

"For us to reset ourselves and refocus in the fourth quarter the way we did really spoke well of a lot of guys," Souers said. "We didn't panic. We didn't vary from what we needed to do. We just took advantage of some key situations."

The Lumberjacks (5-1) last started 3-0 in the Big Sky in 1996.

"When we looked at the schedule at the beginning of the year as a coaching staff, we really didn't want to overplay how difficult the first half of our schedule was going to be," Souers said. "I'm really proud of how the kids have battled through the hardship of travel."

The Eagles (4-3, 1-2) broke through for their first conference victory last week with a 42-16 drubbing of Portland State.

The game will feature two of the top young quarterbacks in Division I-AA.

NAU's Jason Murrietta passed for a season-high 431 yards at Sacramento State and is the top-ranked freshman in major college ball in pass efficiency (154.3).

EWU sophomore Erik Meyer has been even more accurate, ranking fourth overall in Division I-AA (168.0) and is a good scrambler.

"He's clearly making great decisions," Souers said. "He's an accurate thrower and his feet are clearly making a difference in their offense. If your quarterback is playing well, things are going to happen for you, as we're finding out."

Murrietta's go-to receiver is Johnny Marshall, who leads the conference in catches (40) and average (6.67). Marshall had 13 grabs for 161 yards at Sacramento State, and also has an 11-catch game -- one of only two I-AA receivers with two games of 11 or more.

The Lumberjacks, one of two unbeaten teams in Big Sky play (1-0 Montana is the other), lead the conference in rushing defense (92.0 yards per game) and pass defense efficiency (105.0).

Still, the balance in the Eagles' offense worries Souers. EWU leads the Big Sky in scoring offense (33.0 points), is second in total offense (402.1 yards a game) and fourth in passing offense (248.7) and rushing offense (153.4).

"They're hitting their midseason stride," Souers said. "You can see it in the numbers, the production and the points."

This story is from's automated news wire. Wire index