When most Northwestern State fans think of Mike Crow, they probably flash back to his 86-yard touchdown pass to John Stephens on a fake punt to beat McNeese in 1986.
But it was Crow’s consistency and stability with his kicking leg that made the most impact as the punter will be recognized as Thursday’s Exchange Bank Demon Great of the Game.
It’s just more fun to talk about fake punts, of which Crow completed five in his career.
Crow will be honored toward the end of the first quarter during Thursday’s home finale with Sam Houston, which kicks off at 6 p.m.
“(NSU coach Sam Goodwin) coached special teams, and we watched film and knew how our opponents lined up,” Crow said. “He signaled to John (Stephens) and I, and I remember John running a curl route, nobody was there, and he ran 86 yards for a touchdown.
“We took chances on special teams, and it depended on our opponent, how they line up and where we are on the field. A lot of times with Coach Goodwin gave us the signal, it worked.”
The fake punt against McNeese was the game’s only touchdown as the Demons pulled out a 9-3 win.
Crow was one of NSU’s best punters, owning career records for punts (276) and punt yardage (11,028) as a four-year starter.
The two-time All-Gulf Star Conference and All-Louisiana punter finished second in program history in career average (39.95).
In 1985, Crow helped NSU lead Division I-AA in net punting at 40.4 yards.
“It took a lot of practice,” Crow said. “My high school coach Jim Brady was a special teams guy who kicked and punted in college.
“He and my dad deep snapped to me a lot. I took a lot of pride in special teams, and I also held for field goals, which was challenging. People talk about three phases of the game, and we took that third phase very seriously at NSU.”
Playing four years under Goodwin, Crow was part of the 1984 Gulf Star championship team that finished with a 7-4 record.
After two years of free agent contracts trying to make an NFL roster, Crow went back to his native Arkansas and worked in insurance.
The Little Rock native takes his home state very seriously, and he connected with Goodwin, also an Arkansas native.
“Goodwin was a very successful high school coach, and he recruited me when he was at the University of Arkansas,” Crow said. “When he came to NSU, he and coach Donnie Cox continued to recruit me, and I made my way to Natchitoches.”