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Demons hope upset victory is the start of something big
Nov 07, 2013 | 103 views | 0 0 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Was Northwestern State's 31-28 upset of nationally-ranked Central Arkansas Saturday night the start of something really good for first-year coach Jay Thomas and the Demons?

Time will tell if it's a November to remember for NSU, with three games to go, starting Saturday afternoon at 3 in Turpin Stadium against Lamar. Beating UCA, which was ranked 15th in the FCS coaches poll and 18th in the Sports Network Top 25 media poll, stemmed to some degree from Thomas buttering up his players.

"I told the team about the two frogs who ended up in a bucket of cream. One decided this is it, there's no chance to get out. The second frog kicked, struggled and fought so long, the cream turned into butter and he hopped out," said Thomas, chuckling.

"We were that second frog last night. We kicked and fought and struggled long enough that we finally made butter and were able to get ourselves out of predicaments. We fought through whatever adversity came up and made plays when we needed to have them," he said. "I'm proud of our toughness and our effort.

"Our guys played with a lot of heart, a lot of desire. The ball bounced our way a little bit, finally. We are playing much more disciplined, lot smarter football. You want to be physical, you want to play fast, and you want to play smart. If you get those things done and play within yourself, you've got a chance to win every weekend."

NSU (4-5 overall, 1-3 in the Southland) notched its first win over a ranked team since 2010 despite its most modest offensive production, in terms of yardage, in three games. The Demons netted 333 yards, 226 passing on 18 of 26 aim by quarterback Zach Adkins, who had touchdown passes of 25 (Shakeir Ryan), 33 (Tuff McClain) and 38 yards (Daniel Taylor) and ran for a 6-yard TD with 8:05 remaining that provided the winning margin, lifting NSU ahead 31-20.

"We put 31 points on the board and that's the bottom line," said Thomas. "We stayed ahead of the chains, didn't put ourselves in long yardage situations. Zach squeezed some throws in there and our receivers made some really great catches. Not turning the ball over was critical to our success.

"Our offensive line, every week you see them getting better and better. I believe that's why our run production is improving. I like what I'm seeing," said Thomas.

Another Thomas, no relation to his coach, made a game-changing play when he intercepted a Bears' pass in the end zone in the third quarter. Thomas barely missed two more interceptions as NSU also got a bone-jarring hit by linebacker Pat Black to force a UCA fumble. Black had 13 tackles.

"Creating turnovers was huge for us. The defense really played their hearts out. Fred Thomas made some big plays for us. He really played aggressive, and that's the way we have to play - fast, physical and making plays.

"We held our own in the kicking game. We made a field goal, our protection was much more solid, and that's a result of the work we put in last week. We put a lot of our older guys on kickoff coverage and we didn't give up a back-breaking runback against the No. 1 ranked return team in the country. We had some good quality punts, one downed inside the five, but we had one missed punt that gave them field position they converted into a score."

"We're still making butter here. We're still churning," said Thomas. "We get to play at home next Saturday and see if we've gotten better."

NSU will face a Lamar team (4-5, 1-3) that outscored Nicholls 56-34 last Saturday night and two weeks earlier lost a heartbreaker 26-24 to UCA, a week after battling Sam Houston tough in a 14-3 defeat.

"Lamar got a big win, is playing very good football, and you know they'll be up for the challenge of playing on the road," said Thomas. "We've gone through three months of hard work and some tough lessons beginning in August, and it's time for us to arrive here in November. This is our season, right here. Let's win November."
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