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Wed, Dec. 11

NAU football to host San Diego in 1st-round playoff tilt

FLAGSTAFF ­— The Northern Arizona football team has earned an at-large bid to the 2017 NCAA FCS Football Playoffs and will host the University of San Diego in a 6 p.m. kickoff at the J. Lawrence Walkup Skydome on Saturday, Nov. 25.

Tickets for Saturday’s NAU-San Diego opening round FCS Playoff game start at $10 for children, $15 for seniors and $20 for adults.

Tickets can also be purchased in person at the J. Lawrence Walkup Skydome Box Office beginning Tuesday from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. The Skydome Ticket Office will be closed on Thanksgiving Day.

Saturday’s first round NCAA FCS Playoff tilt between the Lumberjacks and Toreros will be aired live on ESPN3 and the Lumberjack Radio Network.

The Lumberjacks, which finished the regular season 7-4 overall and 6-2 in the Big Sky Conference, will be making their first NCAA Playoff appearance since 2013 and the sixth in the program’s history.

The winner of Saturday’s Northern Arizona and San Diego opening round game will travel to battle No. 2 seed North Dakota State on Saturday, Dec. 2, in Fargo, North Dakota, at 1:30 p.m.

The Bison claimed five consecutive NCAA FCS National Championships from 2011-2015. James Madison won the 2016 NCAA FCS Title and is the No. 1 overall seed in this year’s playoff bracket.

NAU dropped a 26-7 decision at home against South Dakota State in its most recent FCS Playoff berth. In 2003, the Lumberjacks upset No. 1 seed McNeese State on the road in the opening round 35-3, before losing to Florida Atlantic 48-25 in the quarterfinals.

NAU lost to Furman 42-31 in their first-ever postseason appearance in 1996. NAU followed that with a 72-29 loss at the hands of Georgia Southern in a first-round road meeting in 1999 and an opening round setback in 2001 by a 34-31 margin at Sam Houston State. NAU is 1-5 all-time in its previous NCAA FCS/I-AA games overall.

This season’s NCAA FCS Playoff berth marks the fifth overall under current NAU head coach Jerome Souers.

“I am elated for all members of the program who fought through an 0-2 start and the adversity our program faced this season to keep focus, come back, compete and earn this opportunity,” Souers said.

San Diego captured an automatic NCAA FCS Playoff bid after winning the Pioneer League regular season championship with a 9-2 overall record and a perfect 8-0 conference mark.

The Toreros will be making their third postseason appearance in the last four seasons and own a 2-1 playoff record in that span. San Diego defeated Cal Poly in the first round in 2016 before falling to North Dakota State. In 2014, the Toreros dropped an opening round contest at Montana.

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