On Saturday, Bearkat football will defend their home field for the last time this season against No. 19 Northern Arizona.
Last weekend the Kats celebrated their homecoming in winning fashion as they upset the Northwestern State Demons 29-24. This weekend one of the Big Sky Conference’s top contenders comes to Huntsville to defend a sturdy 7-3 record and a vie for a playoff birth.
The two teams have a brief history that has consisted of two games over the past two seasons. They first met back in 2001 for the first round of the playoffs. The Bearkats slipped by 34-31. Last season they were not that lucky. The Lumberjacks put a 40-14 beating on the Bearkats in Flagstaff.
Both teams will be coming off big wins last week. The Kats finally ended a losing streak that spanned seven weeks by upsetting Northwestern State. Northern Arizona beat No. 20 Idaho State 46-31.
Head coach Ron Randleman said the advantage his team will have coming into this game is that his team will have nothing to lose while the Lumberjacks season could all depend on the outcome of this game.
“This will be a test against another one of the top teams,” said Randleman. “If they win, they will get a playoff spot. Our goal is to upset them. The pressure will be on them to win.”
Junior quarterback Travis Tobaben replaced injured freshman Wade Pate last week and Randleman said this will be the case again this weekend. Tobaben is currently one of the top Southland Conference passers and is being looked upon to have another crucial performance again on Saturday.
“We are continuing to improve with our offense. They will need to have a big game this weekend,” said Randleman. “Even if you play good defense on this team they are still going to score some points on you.”
Last weekend the Kat defense played a big part in the upset against the Demons. The defensive unit finished the day recovering four of eight fumbles including one that was returned for the go-ahead touchdown.
Randleman said that the entire defense would need to step in order to have success against such a talented offense.
“We are definitely a unit team. We must have the whole entire defense playing at a higher level this weekend.”
With nothing to lose and everything to gain, the Bearkats would love to play spoiler to a strong Northern Arizona team.
Randleman said that his team will be looking forward to the challenge against the Lumberjacks and that the “name-of-the-game would be upset.”
Kickoff is scheduled for 2 o’clock in Huntsville.