|« Day of the (Jacksonville) Dolphins||Colgate Brushes Off 'Cross Title Hopes »|
Demons End Season With Win Over Rival
NACOGDOCHES, Texas – Tough to say what was more surprising in Northwestern State’s 34-24 season-ending win Saturday night at rival Stephen F. Austin.
Was it the run-oriented Demons, with a patchwork offensive line, passing for a school-record 368 yards?
Or perhaps NSU’s Purple Swarm defense shackling the nation’s No. 2 passing attack, permitting only 241 yards to a spread attack averaging 355 per game, and containing the 11th-ranked scoring offense (36 points per game).
In the annual Battle for Chief Caddo, the largest sports trophy (7-foot-6, 320 pounds) in the world, left the Demons on the brink of a Southland Conference co-championship and a national playoff berth. Only a 48-45 overtime win by Texas State at Sam Houston State Saturday prevented NSU from accepting two trophies postgame, not just the Chief.
“We were one overtime away from playing next Saturday,” said Demons coach Scott Stoker, whose seventh NSU team finished 7-5 overall, 4-3 and tied for second in the SLC. “These guys did everything you could ask. I don’t have the words to express how proud I am of the way they played and competed tonight.”
Quarterback John Hundley threw for a season-best 294 yards, completing 29 of 44 passes without an interception. Senior Dudley Guice threatened school single-game records with 11 catches, third-best in school history, and 190 yards, sixth all-time. He snatched a 74-yard touchdown on NSU’s first play on a flanker reverse pass by freshman Calvin Stoker.
Defensively, the turnover-starved Purple Swarm swiped four Jeremy Moses passes, including one just 89 seconds into the game that safety Gary Riggs returned 39 yards for a quick 7-0 lead. Safety Wesley Eckles had a pair of interceptions and a team-high eight tackles, while senior linebacker Mack Dampier made five stops and his first career interception.
Moses, third nationally in total offense (337 yards per game), had only 251 total yards, just 241 in the air on 24-of-44 aim as SFA ended 4-8 overall, 2-5 in the SLC after a winless 2007 season.
“Our defensive staff had a great plan. We played a lot more man than it looked back there, and we were switching a lot, but the biggest factor was we tackled pretty well,” Stoker said. “We told the defense that when they caught it, we had to plant them right there, and we did on all but a few plays.”
Offensively, the Demons ran a season-high 89 plays, 50 by halftime, and netted a season-best 489 yards in unlikely fashion. In fact, even NSU didn’t plan on passing on half its snaps.
“SFA played us defensively pretty much like McNeese did last week, and that was a big surprise. We decided last Sunday if anybody did that to us again, we were going to adjust on the fly, and these guys did it. We had five-and-a-half offensive linemen patched together and they did a great job protecting and creating some cracks for the backs,” Stoker said. “Hundley made a ton of good decisions, took what they gave us, didn’t make any terrible mistakes. We didn’t give their offense the ball any more than they should have had it and that helped our defense.”
Demons end season with win over rival
Alexandria Town Talk (LA) Sports Services
Photo Credit: Gary Hardamon/NSU photo lab