NSU (5-5, 2-3 Southland) overcame its first half errors on offense and special teams to blast past the Cardinals as four running backs scored touchdowns in the contest.
“It feels good,” Northwestern State freshman running back De’Mard Llorens said. “It’s a competition, but we all congratulate each other when we do well.”
The Demons were successful in keeping the Lamar offense at bay and was about get its first points in the game until senior defensive back Tyrus McGlothen intercepted an ill-advised Zach Adkins pass for a 65-yard score to give the Cardinals a 7-0 lead.
NSU would bounce back on the following drive when an 11-play, 75-yard drive was capped off by a Garrett Atzenweiler eight-yard touchdown run tied the score at 7-7.
Lamar (4-6, 1-4) quarterback Caleb Berry would have a backwards lateral batted away and picked by Demons defense lineman Keland Johnson which would lead to a Robert Walker 18-yard touchdown and NSU’s first lead of the day.
Leading 14-7 early in the second quarter, the Demons’ special teams woes would pop up once again as Lamar returner Kevin Johnson took an Andy Wickman punt 52 yards for a score, tying the game at 14-14.
The Demons would force Berry to fumble once again as Adam Jones forced and recovered the ball---giving NSU great field position on the Lamar 19-yard line. However, Northwestern State could only muster a field goal to break the tie.
Johnson would burn NSU’s special teams yet again as his 47-yard kick return put Lamar in good field position.
Three plays and 46 yards later, Lamar took a 21-17 lead thanks to Kade Harrington’s seven-yard run.
For the final 6:44 of the first half, both teams would have two drives with minimal effect and the Cardinals held a slim four-point lead going into halftime.
Going into the locker room, Thomas dropped the gauntlet to the NSU special teams, as well as the other Demons.
“I challenged them to do it right,” Thomas said. “It’s a reason why we put them on these teams and that’s what we need to do.”
While it was not immediate, a different Demons team did show up in the second half and would regain the lead for good when Adkins found Daniel Taylor on a 26-yard pass nearly seven minutes into the third quarter. Chris Moore would miss an extra point, but NSU had a 23-21 advantage heading into the fourth quarter.
Just 10 seconds in the final quarter, Adkins found Louis Hollier on a four-yard pass to finalize a six-play, 70-yard drive and to extend the lead to nine points.
However, the Cardinals would refuse to go away easily as Payton Ploch topped off a 15-play, 78-yard drive with a one-yard touchdown run.
Needing an insurance touchdown, the Demons got just that as redshirt freshman De’Mard Llorens broke loose for a 55-yard touchdown to put the score out of reach.
It was strong day for Adkins who threw for 250 yards and two touchdowns on 26-of-35 passing. The junior quarterback also became the third quarterback to throw for 2000 yards in a season following Scott Stoker and Craig Nall.
Defensively, the “Purple Swarm” lived up to its billing after holding Lamar to 263 total yards. The Demon defense smothered the Cardinals by recording 11 tackles for a loss and five sacks, while allowing just five rushing yards.
“I thought we tackled really well out on the perimeter,” NSU head coach Jay Thomas said. “I thought our pursuit was really good. Our defensive line did a really good job in containing the quarterback and our coverage held up most of the time.”
NSU will travel to Lake Charles Saturday for a matchup with the McNeese State Cowboys. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.