The Northwestern State Demons defeated the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks 40-27 in Turpin Stadium Nov. 23.
Senior Louis Hollier saved his best game for last as he caught seven passes for 165 yards and two touchdowns.
"Louis Hollier's the man. I wish I had him back for another year. He is phenomenal catching the ball and he runs so tough after the catch," NSU head coach Jay Thomas said. "He's Mr. Dependable, Mr. Clutch and I am so glad he had such a big day in his last game."
Hollier, who tied for the tenth-best productive game in Demons’ history against the Lumberjacks, reflected on his career.
"I'm at a loss for words, I'm so emotional right now," Hollier said. "I give all the credit to the offensive line, especially, and (quarterback) Zach Adkins. They fought through a lot and they got better and better all year long. They helped give me the perfect ending to my career."
NSU (6-6) also broke even this season by holding the high-powered SFA offense to just three points in the second half.
Both teams had trouble holding on to the ball early on, with both quarterbacks throwing interceptions on the first play for their respective teams.
Stephen F. Austin (3-9) began its second drive with promise, but three plays later, quarterback Brady Attaway threw another interception.
Senior cornerback Imoan Claiborne would return that miscue 48 yards for the Demons’ first score of the game at 7-0.
Eleven seconds later, a high snap by Lumberjacks led to an NSU safety and 9-0 lead.
The Demon offense finally got on track on the ensuing drive, thanks to an Ed Eagan return that put NSU in good field position. Five plays later, junior quarterback Zach Adkins found Bryant Mitchell for a two-yard touchdown for a 16-0 lead.
SFA would get on the board after Keith Lawson’s 47-yard run brought the team to a nine-point deficit.
There would be no other scoring until the 12:48 mark of the second quarter when running back Garrett Atzenweiler plowed his way to a two-yard touchdown run to put the Demons up 23-7.
After a 22-yard field goal by Jordan Wiggs cut the lead to 13 points, Adkins threw a touchdown pass to Hollier to give NSU a 30-10 lead.
The rest of the second quarter would live up to the billing of a possible high-scoring game when Attaway threw a four-yard pass to Mike Brooks, making the score 30-17 in the Demons’ favor.
The final two minutes were even wilder, as Adkins and Hollier hooked up again for a touchdown. Yet, Lawson answered with another touchdown of his own to give SFA a 37-24 deficit to work against.
The Lumberjacks tried to chip away at the lead when Wiggs’ 23-yard field goal was true, but Chris Moore answered on the following drive with a 36-yarder to place the Demons’ lead at 40-27.
For the final 20 minutes of the ballgame, the NSU defense would slam the window shut on the Lumberjacks’ chances by forcing an interception and three quick drives.
The Demons received contributions by Claiborne and defensive tackle Lesley Deamer, who never defeated SFA until this year.
Claiborne’s second interception gave Attaway three picks thrown, while Deamer admitted he was thinking about the Chief Caddo statue---that faced the field in Turpin Stadium’s south end zone.
“When I got it, that was the first thing that came to my mind,” Deamer said. “I wanted to bring it back for the rest of the team.”
While the Demons’ season ended without its first trip to the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) playoffs since 2004, NSU finished with non-losing marks in November and the season for the first time since 2008.
The outgoing seniors are optimistic that Thomas can build on his first season as head coach to build bigger and better things.
"Getting to six wins, not having a losing season, and bringing the Chief home, we can say we're the team that started the foundation. With Coach T, the sky's the limit," Deamer said. "They'll keep getting better and better."