Amid the pomp, ceremony and drama during last Saturday’s Northwestern State Homecoming football game at Turpin Stadium, a poignant presentation during a first-quarter timeout commemorated unforgettable memories.
NSU president Dr. Jim Henderson and Demon football four-year letterman Jack “Britt” Brittain Jr. took part in the brief, but especially for them, very emotional event.
It saluted not only the NSU football team’s stirring 30-27 triumph at Ruston in 2014 to knock off ancient rival Louisiana Tech, but memories of their fathers, teammates on the Bulldogs’ football teams after World War II.
It culminated a vision by Brittain during the winter of 2014, once he found out that NSU football coach Jay Thomas had the ball that kicker Chris Moore booted through the uprights for a game-winning 47-yard field goal as time expired. The game was the first meeting in 20 years between teams that first met in 1907 and collided for a half-century, through 1987, in the storied State Fair Classic battle in Shreveport.
NSU and Louisiana Tech had met only once since the State Fair Classic’s demise, that a close Bulldogs win in 1994 in Ruston. In 2014, the Demons scored 20 points in the fourth quarter to win.
Thomas had mulled options for the ball. He’d had supporters who wanted to pay a pretty price to buy it. He felt most likely, it should find a place on campus for all Demons to enjoy. Brittain came up with the best of both worlds.
“After discussing it, a donation was made with the condition that I would donate it back to the NSU family to be displayed so all can walk by and remember this epic battle,” said Brittain. “Everything came together so Dr. Henderson and I would honor the 2014 football team’s win over Louisiana Tech, while remembering all of those who played through the years in this great rivalry, including our dads.
“That 2014 Demon team never gave up,” said Brittain, “and we shall never forget.”
During the presentation, fans at Turpin Stadium were shown a photo from the 1947 State Fair Classic, showing Brittain’s father running at the goalline for a touchdown while Henderson’s father, Clem, in his No. 68 jersey, trailed the play after his blocking helped spring Brittain.
“We wanted to share that photo with everybody, because they were men who played for, and graduated from, Louisiana Tech, and loved their time there, but as their lives moved forward, both found their lives tied to Northwestern. Dad married my mother and moved here, raised his family here. Mr. Clem moved here when his wife, Mrs. Martha, came to work at NSU, and Jim graduated from here and ultimately became our president,” said Brittain.
“It was a very emotional moment for both of us, to be able to share the story of our dads and present that ball to Northwestern so Demon fans will always be able to treasure that great game in 2014, and future Demon teams will be inspired by it,” he said.
Thomas appreciated Brittain’s vision to make the presentation extra special.
“When Britt told me the story, there was no doubt. Case closed, that’s what we were going to do with the ball,” the coach said. “Their dads were great men, who made a difference in thousands of lives (Henderson was a career educator, Brittain an attorney and community leader), and they each became very supportive of Northwestern and their sons are Demons. Dr. Henderson and Britt have been so supportive of our football program, and everything at NSU. I can’t imagine this being any more fitting, or done any better.”