By DOUG IRELAND, Journal Sports
The first time Grambling and Northwestern State squared off in a football game in Shreveport, 48 years ago this weekend, points were hard to come by.
If you use last week’s 2022 season openers as an indication, that seems very likely when they meet again this evening at Independence Stadium. The Tigers and Demons kick off at 6:04 in their sixth-ever collision, their first since 2018.
The groundbreaking 1974 contest was a defensive struggle, won 14-13 by Grambling on a blocked field goal in the final minute.
Last week was just a struggle for the Demons (47-0 losers at FCS No. 2-ranked Montana) and the Tigers (beaten 58-3 at FBS Arkansas State).
But neither coach will be surprised when his team breaks loose and finds the end zone, or if they do it over and over. Grambling’s Hue Jackson and Northwestern State’s Brad Laird are confident their clubs will be much more productive than a week ago.
“Breaking through, and knowing how much confidence that’s going to give you, that’s something we’re both eager to experience,” said Laird.
“There’s a lot of correctable mistakes, but I saw a lot of similarities. We both had penalty problems on the road that need to be greatly reduced and there was lot more common ground,” said Laird. “They have some new faces they’re trying to blend together and find how it fits best. You saw flashes of how good they can be. Again, you can say similar things about us.”
Said Jackson: “We didn’t put our best foot forward. Doesn’t matter why. None of that is the issue. The Issue is are we ready to play this week like we think we can.”
As for a scouting report on the Tigers, Laird saw potential:
“They never got in a rhythm offensively. But the quarterback (Quaterius Hawkins) showed his ability to make plays, and I know why Coach Jackson chose him as the starter. He’s a threat running and throwing. They have talented running backs, but offensively they were inconsistent.
“Defensively, (SWAC Defensive Player of the Week) Lewis Jackson had a tremendous game. It was not surprising. We recruited him, because we really were impressed with his ability and his character, and honestly it was fun to see him play that way. Now we have to deal with it and that’s not so exciting,” said Laird.
And for an opposing glimpse at the Demons:
“They played against a really good team,” said Jackson. “They played hard, they’re well coached. They do a lot of different things on defense, multiple fronts, and offensively they have good runners and a quarterback (Kansas transfer Miles Fallin) who can make plays.”
The shared perspective extends to the big picture, that two neighboring institutions from different conferences and different cultures are renewing a series that has plenty of appeal in the 318 area code.
“The opportunity to play an in-state, FCS non-conference game against a tradition-rich program like Grambling is exciting, and to be able to play the game in Shreveport is tremendous,” said Laird. “We look forward to it – and I am sure they feel the same way.”
Halftime will showcase Grambling’s World Famed Tiger Marching Band and the Spirit of Northwestern. Whether four quarters of football can provide anything close to that level of excitement will be interesting to see.
Contact Doug at email@example.com