SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. – Sophomore quarterback Case Cookus passed for 406 yards and four touchdowns as Northern Arizona opened Big Sky Conference play with a 28-10 victory over Cal Poly in a football game televised nationally by Eleven Sports on Saturday night inside Alex G. Spanos Stadium.
Cookus completed 35 of 46 passes, including two scoring strikes to Elijah Marks and one each to Jonathan Baldwin and Matthew Kempton, for the visiting Lumberjacks (1-2, 1-0 Big Sky).
Cal Poly, which was held to a 29-yard field goal by Casey Sublette and a 60-yard scoring pass from Khaleel Jenkins to J.J. Koski after Northern Arizona had built a 28-3 lead in the Mustangs' Hall of Fame Game, fell to 0-4 and 0-1.
The Mustangs lost a conference home opener for the first time since 2007 when Cal Poly fell to North Dakota State 31-28 in a Great West Conference home opener on Nov. 10, 2007. The Mustangs had won nine conference home openers in a row, including a 5-0 mark in the Big Sky.
Northern Arizona led in all statistics, including 23-17 in first downs, 467 to 326 in total offense and a one-minute advantage in time of possession. The Lumberjacks are now 11-1 in their series against the Mustangs.
Northern Arizona struck first with a 12-yard pass from Cookus to Marks less than three minutes into the game, taking the opening kickoff and marching 80 yards in just seven plays.
After Sublette's field goal midway through the opening period, the Lumberjacks scored the next three touchdowns for their 28-3 lead.
Cookus hit Jonathan Baldwin with a 16-yard scoring pass midway through the second period for a 14-3 halftime lead, then connected with Marks on a seven-yard touchdown pass and Matthew Kempton with a two-yarder, both in the third quarter.
Jenkins found Koski open for a 60-yard scoring pass in the final minute of the third period. There was no scoring in the fourth quarter.
Marks finished with 14 catches for 206 yards and two scores.
Cal Poly senior fullback Jared Mohamed rushed for 124 yards on 29 carries, his second 100-yard game of the season and third of his Mustang career. Jenkins completed five of 15 passes for 148 yards and was intercepted twice. Kyle Lewis caught a pair of passes for 44 yards.
Byron Evans collected 10 tackles, Wes Sutton and Kam'ron Johnson intercepted passes and Tristen Vance recovered a pair of Cal Poly fumbles to lead Northern Arizona defensively.
Linebacker Jayson Lee notched 10 tackles for Cal Poly and Mason Montgomery, also a linebacker, added nine. Kam Dennis recovered a Lumberjack fumble while Mark Reza and Jack Ferguson combined on one sack. Cal Poly recorded seven tackles for lost yardage.
The Mustangs are off to an 0-4 start for the first time since the 2002 season.
On Friday night, Cal Poly inducted six former Mustang student-athletes and one longtime administrator, into the Cal Poly Athletics Hall of Fame.
The 2017 class of inductees -- baseball pitcher Kevin Correia, football running back Craig Young, men's cross country and track and field distance runner Danny Aldridge, men's basketball forward Billy Jackson, women's cross country/track and field distance runner Gladees Prieur, women's basketball forward Kristina Santiago and former Mustang director of athletics and faculty athletic representative Dr. Ken Walker -- were honored at halftime Saturday.
Cal Poly plays its next two Big Sky games on the road, visiting Idaho State next Saturday and Southern Utah in two weeks.
Photo above of J.J. Koski's touchdown catch courtesy of Alexander Bohlen