Gary Hardamon photos
The Northwestern State defense claimed the upper hand Thursday afternoon in an hour-long, 52-snap situational scrimmage at Turpin Stadium, turning the tables five days after the Demons’ offense piled up 587 yards in the first scrimmage of spring football practice.
The defense stymied the offense on 17 of 24 third down plays, including 14 of the first 16, and held the offense scoreless in two of four two-minute drill scenarios. The scrimmage was the 10th of 15 spring workouts, sandwiched with an hour of drills before the competition segment.
“It was really good to see the defense step up, although we didn’t think they played badly in the first scrimmage. The offense did a great job then, made some big plays, scored some points, but today it tilted the defense’s way,” said head coach Jay Thomas. “The offense did counterpunch and made some plays in the two-minute drill.”
Three quarterbacks combined to complete 15 of 29 passes for 174 yards, with one interception, by sophomore safety Malik Sonnier. The offense ran for 95 yards on 23 carries, including a 29-yard burst by Ronald Green.
Top tacklers included sophomore linebacker Ronald Malbrough (five tackles, three solo), sophomore end Brice Borgeson (four tackles, and a quarterback hurry), and sophomore linebacker Dezinarell Gray (four tackles, all solo).
“We had good intensity, came out with the right focus. You worry about that in practice 10, leading into spring break,” said first-year defensive coordinator Brad Laird. “Are there things to correct? Yeah, but we took a step today in the direction Northwestern State needs to go.”
Redshirt freshman Kenny Sears threw for 119 yards on 7 of 12 aim. Senior J.D. Almond went 6 of 12 for 38 yards while junior college transfer Clay Holgorsen was 2 of 5 for 17 yards and was intercepted.
Redshirt freshman running back Tyreik Campbell had the scrimmage’s only touchdown, a five-yard sweep that capped a six-play, 65-yard drive highlighted by Sears’ 38-yard strike into the wind to LSU transfer Jazz Ferguson.
Almond guided a nine-play, 57-yard drive including Green’s 29-yard run that helped produce a 25-yard Eric Piccione field goal.
Sophomore Jared West led the backs with 44 yards rushing on seven carries. Junior college transfer Marquisian Chapman topped the receivers with four catches for 30 yards, while Ferguson had two for 50.
The competition was sprinkled with several brief altercations as tempers flared.
“It got a little heated today,” said Thomas, who had both coordinators gather their troops at the end of the scrimmage to address the situation. “Don’t know if that was having spring break on the horizon, or the grind of three weeks of spring ball coming to the fore, but it gave us an opportunity to teach the guys how to be intense but disciplined. We will be disciplined.”
NSU students head out Friday afternoon for spring break. The Demons resume spring practice Monday night, April 3, with the 28th Annual Joe Delaney Bowl spring game Saturday morning, April 8.
Eric Piccione 25 field goal
Tyreik Campell 5 run (Austyn Fendrick kick)
Passing (15-29-1, 174 yards):
Kenny Sears 7-12, 119 yards; J.D. Almond 6-12, 38 yards; Clay Holgorsen 2-5-1, 17 yards.
Marquisian Chapman 4-30; Jazz Ferguson 2-50; Ronald Green 2-5; Tanner Ash 1-30; Kalen Meggs 1-19; Jaylen Watson 1-15; Tyreik Campbell 1-11; Gavin Landry 1-5; Bryson Bourque 1-5; Glenn Irons 1-4.
Rushing (23-95, 1 TD)
Jared West 7-44; Ronald Green 5-34; Nigel Dora 8-11; Kenny Sears 1-9; Tyreik Campbell 1-5, TD; Team 1-minus 8.
Ronald Malbrough 5 tackles, 3 solo; Brice Borgeson 4 tackles, 1 QB hurry; Dezinarell Gray 4 tackles, 4 solos; Dazarie Hall 3 tackles, 3 solo; Darian Raymond 3 tackles, 2 solo; Lionel Williams 3 tackles, 1 solo; Stanley Woodley 3 tackles; Nick Pierotti 3 tackles, 2 solo; Ian Edwards 2 tackles, 2 solo; Deshon Ficklin 2 tackles, 1 solo; Charlie Matthews 2 tackles; Zak Krolczyk 1 tackle, 1 solo; Manuel Mukes 1 tackle; Ricky Chatman 1 tackle; Deshon Hayes 1 tackle; Malik Sonnier, 1 interception; Ike Warren, 1 pass breakup; Lyn Clark, 2 QB hurries; Peyton Guidry, 1 QB hurry.