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Gardner leads Lumberjacks to GNAC title
JaQuan Gardner set Humboldt States single-season rushing yard record last week. Gardners gained 1,735 yards and scored 21 touchdowns for the GNAC-champion Lumberjacks this season. - photo by MATTHEW LERMAN/HSU Sports Information

Humboldt State's football team won the Great Northwest Athletic Conference title outright with a 57-14 victory over Dixie State on Saturday in Utah.

Central Valley High School grad Ja'Quan Gardner rushed for 185 yards and one touchdown while turning in another dominant performance for the Lumberjacks.

"It was a fun day for our school," Gardner said. "Everybody was excited. Championships last forever. That was our main goal since the start of the season."

Humboldt State improved to 8-1 overall and 6-0 in the GNAC standings.

The Lumberjacks made history by securing their second conference title in the past five seasons.

"I'm definitely not surprised with the success that we've had," Gardner said. "We're all focused on winning. We worked hard all year. It's a total team effort. We all support each other."

Gardner also broke Humboldt State's single-season rushing yard record last week.

He totaled 1,735 yards and 21 touchdowns through the Lumberjacks' first nine games.

Ja'Quan has 156 more yards than predecessor Nick Ricciardulli.

"It's definitely a big accomplishment," Gardner said. "But I didn't set any individual goals before the start of the season. I just wanted our team to win a conference championship. Everything else comes with it. The offensive line has worked hard. I just get the ball and run."

Gardner carried the ball just nine times versus Dixie State.

His 74-yard TD run gave Humboldt State a 34-0 lead with 2:44 remaining in opening half.

Ja'Quan rooted for his teammates from the sidelines during the second half.

"It's late in the season," Gardner said. "We didn't want to risk injury. We have some big games ahead of us."

Humboldt State will close out the 2015 regular season at Western Oregon (7-3, 5-1) this Saturday. The Lumberjacks edged the Wolves 29-20 on Sept. 5.

"They're trying to secure a playoff spot, too," Gardner said. "It's a must-win game."