By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Gardner ends record-breaking football career with HSU
Former Hawk standout led Lumberjacks to 8-2 record
JaQuan Gardner (32) celebrated Senior Day at Humboldt State with family members and friends on Nov. 11 at the Redwood Bowl in Arcata. - photo by Photo courtesy of HSU Athletics

Ja'Quan Gardner ended his incredible four-year run with Humboldt State's football program earlier this month in Arcata.

Gardner and 23 other senior players were honored prior to kickoff versus Central Washington at the Redwood Bowl.

"It's crazy to say I'm already alumni now," Ja'Quan said. "Four years flew by fast. I'm thankful to all the fans and people that supported me throughout my career."

The No. 16 Lumberjacks needed to beat the No. 7 Wildcats to win a share of the Great Northwest Athletic Conference title and receive playoff consideration.

Humboldt State suffered a 42-28 loss to unbeaten Central Washington in front of 5,467 fans on Nov. 11.

"There was a lot of anxiousness and excitement knowing what was at stake," Gardner said. "We just fell short. They outplayed us. They have a great team."

The Lumberjacks compiled an 8-2 overall record and finished in second place in the GNAC standings (6-2) this fall.

The Wildcats improved to 11-0 and won all eight of their conference games.

Humboldt State's two losses were to Central Washington.

"That's nothing to hang our heads about," Gardner said. "We had a great season. It's a season that will be remembered."

Gardner hauled in seven passes for 105 yards with one touchdown and rushed for 22 yards and one score on 11 carries versus Central Washington.

Humboldt State never recovered after falling behind 21-0 at the 5:03 mark of the first quarter.

The Lumberjacks trailed 35-7 at halftime.

Humboldt State cut the deficit to 14 with 8:11 remaining in the third quarter.

"We knew it wasn't going be easy," Gardner said. "Knowing it was our last game, we didn't want to go out with an embarrassing loss. We kept playing. There was no quit in the team. That's one of the best defenses we've seen my four years here."

Gardner was voted GNAC Offensive Player of the Year for the second time in four seasons.

Ja'Quan ranked first in the conference in rushing yards (1,259) and rushing touchdowns (19).

He averaged 125.9 yards per game and 6.2 yards per attempt.

Gardner became the GNAC's all-time leader in touchdowns scored, points, all-purpose yards, rushing yards and rushing TDs this year.

Ja'Quan set GNAC single-game marks with 446 all-purpose yards and six touchdowns, and tied another conference record with five rushing TDs during Humboldt State's 52-49 Homecoming win over Azusa Pacific.

Gardner and 33 other student-athletes have been nominated for the 2017 Harlon Hill Trophy, the NCAA Division-II College Football Player of the Year award.

The field will be narrowed to eight finalists when regional voting concludes on Nov. 27. The winner will be announced on Dec. 15 and honored on the University of North Alabama campus at a luncheon on Jan. 5.

Ja'Quan was the Harlon Hill Trophy runner-up in 2015.

"He (Gardner) is one of those special players that certainly leaves a legacy here at Humboldt State," Lumberjacks' head coach Rob Smith said.