Photo: 7 Kaleb Barker attempts a pass while being pressured by 71 Kyle Lester
The Northern Arizona Wranglers’ quarterback Kaleb Barker accounted for five touchdowns, as the home team overcame a slow start, knocking off the Bismarck Bucks 46-21, Saturday night at the Findlay Toyota Center in Prescott Valley. The Wranglers improve to a perfect (8-0) at home and (12-3) overall.
Northern Arizona took a 6-0 lead midway through the opening quarter on a 26 yard pass from Kaleb Barker to Jerrime Neal. The Wranglers failed to convert the extra point, the first of three on the night. Bismarck’s second possession ended on an interception by Kiante Northington at the NAZ 2 yard line.
The Wranglers failed to increase their lead when they missed a 29 yard field goal early in the second quarter. The Bucks took the lead when Edward Vander scored on a two yard sweep. Chase Albaugh added the kick for their first lead of the night 7-6. The Wranglers regained the lead when Barker threaded the needle to hit Jerrime Neal in the back of the end zone. Tim Parker, filling in for Brandon Fischer, got the PAT through and a 13-7 lead with 1:37 left in the first half.
An unsuccessful onside kick set the Bucks up at the Wrangler 9 yard line. Bismarck scored three plays later on a Gio Sanders quarterback sneak and with the PAT, led 14-13 with :49 left in the half. The Wranglers went up 19-14 at the half when Barker rushed in for the score from 5 yards out.
Barker scored again on a 25 yard run to open the second half, increasing the Northern Arizona lead to 26-14. Bismarck closed the gap to 26-21 on another one yard run by Sanders. After that it was all Wranglers as Barker scored again on another run, and Israel Tucker scored on a 9 yard run.
The final nail in the coffin came when Bill Atkins picked off of backup QB Emond Caldwell’s pass, returning it 37 yards for a touchdown, and leaving a path of fallen Bucks on the field in the process. Atkins would get one more interception in the final seconds.
Barker said, “We will take the win for sure, but we didn’t play as well as we need to play. We started off slow, but were able to get things moving in the right direction as the game progressed.” Barker accounted for five of the six touchdowns, finishing with three rushing touchdowns and two more through the air. Barker added, “We will need to be better next week for sure when we play at Duke City.”
The Bucks starting quarterback Gio Sanders had moments of success, scoring two rushing touchdowns and completing 7-17 for 95 yards through the air said, “They brought a lot of pressure on us tonight. This has been a tough stretch for us, having the last four games against playoff teams.”
Barker rushed for 53 yards and three touchdowns and threw for two more, going 12-22, and zero turnovers. Jerrime Neal led the receivers with four receptions for 68 yards and two touchdowns. Israel Tucker rushed for 36 yards and a TD. Darin Hungerford led the defense with six tackles, including the only sack of the game. Bill Atkins had two interceptions and Kiante Northington had one..
The Wranglers will play their final regular season game at Duke City on Saturday night. The game can be seen on YouTube starting at 5:05 pm.
NORTHERN ARIZONA WRANGLERS 46, BISMARCK BUCKS 21
Score By Quarters- 1 2 3 4 – T
Bismarck 0 14 7 0 – 21
Northern Arizona 6 13 14 13 – 46
NAZ-Neal 26 yard pass from Barker (Kick failed)
BIS-Vander 2 yard run (Albaugh kick)
NAZ-Neal 8 yard pass from Barker (Parker kick)
BIS-Sanders 1 yard run(Albaugh kick)
NAZ-Barker 5 yard run (Kick failed)
NAZ-Barker 25 yard run (Parker kick)
BIS-Sanders 1 yard run (Albaigh kick)
NAZ-Barker 7 yard run ((Parker kick)
NAZ-Tucker 9 yard run (Kick failed)
NAZ-Atkins 37 yard interception return (Parker kick)
West W L
Arizona 13 3
WRANGLERS 12 3
Tucson 8 7
Duke City 7 8
Vegas 6 10
San Diego 3 12
Bay Area 1 14
East W L
Frisco 13 2
Massachusetts 10 5
Iowa 9 6
Sioux Falls 8 7
Quad City 8 7
Green Bay 6 10
Bismarck 3 13
WRANGLERS 46, Bismarck 21
Arizona 49, Vegas 31
Duke City 53, San Diego 51
Massachusetts 44, Bay Area 28
Iowa 61, Tucson 48
Frisco 50, Quad City 44
SCHEDULE (Final Regular Season Games-Saturday)
WRANGLERS at Duke City
Tucson at Bay Area
San Diego at Massachusetts
Iowa at Quad City
Sioux Falls at Frisco EDULE