Northern Arizona University head coach Jerome Souers chuckled at the suggestion he should get the Lumberjacks' boosters to move Lucky Dozier's family and friends to Flagstaff to see more of the senior defensive back from Burbank High School.
Because every time Dozier plays against either Sacramento State, as he did Saturday, or UC Davis he makes huge plays to help win games. Dozier stepped in front of a Garrett Safron pass for his second interception of the season.
Two plays later, Northern Arizona running back Zach Bauman scored on a 25-yard run, and the Lumberjacks held on for a 39-38 Big Sky Conference win.
Dozier intercepted a Jimmy Laughrea pass at UC Davis on Sept. 14 and returned it 78 yards for what turned out to be the decisive score in a 21-10 victory. With more than 60 friends and family in the stands again to see Dozier play, he made the interception at Sac State's 32-yard line but was stopped after a 6-yard return.
"I was definitely thinking pick 6," Dozier said. "All I saw was green field ahead of me. But the receiver got me."
Souers was looking for some senior leadership and continues to get it, he said, from Dozier.
"I love Lucky Dozier," Souers said.
The loss was especially tough for the Hornets (3-4, 2-1) who could have been alone in first place in the Big Sky had they held off a furious Northern Arizona (4-2, 2-1) comeback.
Sac State trailed 14-10 at halftime but scored 21 unanswered points in a 28-point third quarter over a four-minute span. The Hornets led 38-21 after Safron scored on an impressive 50-yard keeper. Safron accounted for 330 of the Hornets' 397 yards. He threw for 220 yards and a touchdown, a 22-yarder to DeAndre Carter that started the Hornets' third-quarter rally.
Safron rushed for 110 yards, but of his 33 passing attempts, he would like the one to Dozier back.
"It was a bootleg," Hornets head coach Marshall Sperbeck said of the interception. "I'm sure (Safron) didn't see him."
Sperbeck said Dozier was on Sacramento State's recruiting radar but didn't elaborate on why he wasn't offered a trip to the Sac State campus.
Sperbeck did say the second half was a game of momentum. The Hornets, who saw their two-game winning streak end, had it for much of the third quarter but the Lumberjacks regained it. They held the Hornets to just 19 yards in three fourth-quarter possessions.
"We play two more quarters and the momentum probably switches two more times," Sperbeck said. "These (close losses) all hurt."
Lumberjacks junior quarterback Chase Cartwright came off the bench with 7:25 remaining in the third quarter and replaced Kyren Poe, who had just thrown his second interception of the game, which was returned 37 yards for a touchdown by Robert Beale.
Cartwright was projected to be the starter but injured his knee in training camp. He got his first minutes of the season and responded by completing 16 of 19 passes for 208 yards and three touchdowns.
Bauman led all rushers with 196 yards on 27 carries and two touchdowns. He had just 26 yards on nine carries in a 36-7 loss at Montana State last week.
Dozier and his defensive teammates came into the game with six touchdowns, one more than their offense has scored all season.
Sacramento State had played four of its last five games at home and will play three of its next four on the road, including next Saturday at North Dakota.