By Jason Pugh, Louisiana Tech Assistant Athletic Director for Media Relations
DENTON, Texas – There were plenty of big plays and turnovers in Northwestern State’s season-opening football game at North Texas on Saturday night.
Unfortunately for the Demons, they had too many of one and not enough of the other.
Mean Green running back DeAndre Torrey rushed for a career-high 244 yards and three touchdowns and the Demons turned the ball over four times, allowing North Texas to pull away for a 44-14 victory at Apogee Stadium.
“It’s frustrating when you look at the scoreboard at the end of the game,” fourth-year head coach Brad Laird said. “The thing I told the guys, you look at the second half, coming out of the half, we get the interception, and we have the touchdown to Jay (Griffin) that gets called back. Those are things, when you’re playing games like this, you can’t have.”
The Demons (0-1) matched the Mean Green punch for punch for most of the first half, thanks to a pair of big plays on offense and an opportunistic defense.
Down 7-0 after Torrey’s first touchdown – a 24-yard run – Northwestern State answered with its first big play.
Kaleb Fletcher hit Kendrick Price on a slant route, and Price broke through a one-on-one tackle, turning it into a 65-yard touchdown.
“That definitely put a spark in the team,” said running back Scooter Adams, who ran for 92 yards on 12 carries and added 36 yards on a team-high seven catches. “That gave us some momentum. We’ve got to keep getting more explosive plays like that.”
Adams had the Demons’ other big offensive play in the first half.
Trailing 17-7, Adams took a second-down carry through a gaping hole 36 yards for his first touchdown of the season, cutting the NSU deficit to a field goal.
Adams’ score was set up by a Cedric Anderson interception of Jace Ruder.
“That came off a free safety blitz,” said Anderson, who also broke up a pass in the end zone in the second half. “I have to give credit to (PJ) Herrington. He came in on the blitz and hit the quarterback. I got on top of him, and when I turned around, the ball was there and I had to make a play.”
While the Demons were able to force Ruder into a pair of interceptions, the Mean Green (1-0) proved more capable at converting the Demons’ miscues into points.
North Texas turned its four extra possessions into 13 points, backing Torrey’s performance, which was the fourth-most yards gained by a running back against the Demons in a single game.
“From coaches and players, there are a lot of mistakes we made, but there were a lot of great things we did, too,” Laird said. “We’ll learn from those mistakes and get ready for Week 2.”
NSU moved the ball throughout the game – finishing with 418 yards, including 218 on the ground. However, the Demons could not convert a fourth-and-1 from the North Texas 11 in the first quarter of a scoreless game.
Similarly, NSU was unable to take advantage of Bartholomew’s interception on the first play of the second half. The junior cornerback’s eighth career interception extended his streak of games with an interception to four, stretching across three seasons.
The Demons appeared to have taken advantage of Bartholomew’s diving interception as Fletcher delivered a perfect deep ball to Griffin, who hauled it in around the 10-yard line and outraced the defender to the end zone.
An illegal shift nullified the apparent 38-yard score. One play later, North Texas recovered an NSU fumble that led to Roderic Burns’ leaping 23-yard touchdown catch from Ruder and a 17-point Mean Green lead.
“Our guys competed,” Laird said. “Our guys played hard. Our guys made some plays. That was a good thing to be able to get on film Week 1 against a good team that was a bowl team last year. The biggest thing is, when we have those opportunities, to take advantage of them against anybody. That showed itself tonight.”
The Demons return to action next Saturday at Alcorn. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. in Lorman, Miss.
— Featured photo by Chris Reich, NSU Photographic Services