Home Sports College Northwestern State shocks La. Tech

Northwestern State shocks La. Tech

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RUSTON — A 20-point fourth quarter, capped by Chris Moore’s game-winning 47-yard field goal on the final play, lifted visiting Northwestern State to a stunning 30-27 win over old nemesis Louisiana Tech Saturday night in front of 26,004 at Joe Aillet Stadium.

Moore had tied the game with 1:05 left on a 29-yard field goal. Both kicks were set up by turnovers forced by a resilient Purple Swarm defense, with Marion Chapman’s fumble recovery at the Tech 35 coming with 2:45 left and leading to the tying field goal at the 1:05 mark, and Adam Jones scooping up a pass deflected by Imoan Claiborne and making the decisive pickoff, his second of the night, at the NSU 49 with 52 seconds remaining, on the first play after the ensuing kickoff.

The Demons got passes of 13 and 12 yards in the game-winning drive from Zach Adkins to Cody Jones, and calmly had Adkins take a four-yard loss to move the ball to the middle of the field for Moore’s attempt with three seconds left. After a Tech timeout, the junior hammered the second longest kick in his two seasons as a Demon and split the uprights, setting off a delirious celebration.

The outcome was the first Northwestern State win over an FBS foe since 2005, ending a 17-game skid in those matchups. In the first meeting in 20 seasons between the ancient rivals, who began playing each other in 1907, the Demons notched their first win in 10 tries, since a 25-21 victory in 1979

Tech (2-2) suffered five turnovers, three interceptions. NSU (2-2) scored after each one.

“We did things tonight that we haven’t done this year; the turnovers, the
penalties,” said Tech head coach Skip Holtz. “I said coming into this game
it was all about us. I thought we competed; I didn’t have any issues with
our effort. We simply made way too many mistakes. I give Northwestern State
a lot of credit. They played extremely hard and took advantage of our
mistakes.”

“Our guys just battled, and battled, and battled,” said second-year Demons’ coach Jay Thomas. “We beat a real good football team because we made some big-time plays. Our defense came up with the ball again and again, and the offense converted.”

Northwestern trailed from the early moments and never led until the last second, but the Demons were never down by more than 10 – at 10-0, 13-3, 20-10 and 27-17 with 8:35 remaining.

From there, NSU drove 58 yards in 10 plays, getting a 14-yard De’Mard Llorens touchdown run one play after Adkins converted a fourth-and-1 on a sneak, after a 15-yard connection with Ed Eagan on third-and-16.

Trying to preserve its 27-24 edge, Tech handed to star running back Kenneth Dixon for three straight plays working on the clock, but on third-and-1 at the Bulldogs’ 34, as he dove toward the first down, the ball came loose in the collision, credited to Chapman on the forced fumble. Chapman won the scramble for the ball and NSU had a chance to tie or win with 2:45 left.

A 9-yard pass from Adkins to Zach White and a 15-yard personal foul penalty on the Bulldogs carried the Demons to the Tech 14, but NSU couldn’t get much closer and settled for Moore’s middle-of-the-field 29-yarder to tie with 65 seconds left.

On the first play after the kickoff, Tech’s Cody Sokol looked toward his sideline, but Claiborne batted the pass up the field and Jones made a diving grab that was upheld on a replay for the interception.

Then after Adkins and Jones hooked up twice, everybody knew it was probably coming down to Moore, who relished the opportunity.

“The rest of the team made big play after big play to give us the chance. I was more anxious about the kickoff after the field goal to tie it, because we were going onsides and they changed it after we lined up. You don’t practice onsides kicks as much as you do end-of-game field goals,” said Moore, who said it was the first such actual game winner in his career at any level. “Their time out actually helped me relax and focus. Then it was really up to Hunter (Graves, the snapper) and Tuff (McClain, the holder) doing the same perfect work they have done all year, the protection was perfect as always, and I just had no worries.

“It was a blast seeing everybody go crazy,” he said. “Everybody won this, I just had the final kick,” he said.

Moore also had a 41-yard field goal midway through the second quarter to get NSU on the board. He is now 10 of 12 on field goals this season, 5 of 6 from 40 yards or more.

The Demons got touchdown runs of 4 and 10 yards from Garrett Atzenweiler, who led the Demons with 66 yards on 19 rushes.

Adkins was 21 of 35 for 205 yards and was intercepted twice, sacked three times. Eagan caught six passes for 70 yards as seven Demons had receptions, including McClain with four for 51 yards.

Chapman led the Demons with eight tackles, including a sack. Jones had two of the interceptions and six tackles.

The Bulldogs had a 413-307 advantage in yardage but were hurt by eight penalties for 74 yards and the five turnovers, the second time in as many weeks NSU came up with five.

The Demons have an open date before beginning Southland play Oct. 4 at defending
champion Southeastern Louisiana. The Bulldogs, who whipped Louisiana-Lafayette and
North Texas on the road in the last two weeks, go to Auburn next Saturday.

— Staff Reports