Demon defense enjoys turnover-heavy first scrimmage
NATCHITOCHES – The Northwestern State football team has dealt with several different weather phenomena since playing its most recent competitive game.
There were hurricanes in the fall and a couple of snow days when the team reconvened in the spring semester. Sunday’s first scrimmage of spring camp was greeted with windy conditions that belied the sun-splashed skies above Turpin Stadium.
Against that backdrop, the Demon defense stood tallest, forcing five turnovers as NSU went through a two-hour scrimmage totaling close to 90 live-action snaps.
“It was great for us as coaches and players to get close to 100 live reps not counting special teams,” said coach Brad Laird, who opens his third season as the Demon coach Feb. 20 at Lamar. “I thought it was a great day. Initially, walking off the field, the thing you notice is the turnovers, needing to protect the ball offensively. We’ve got to clean up penalties. I believe we had about 10 penalties.
“First time in a live situation, those are things we need to get corrected. Overall, the effort and attitude was great. These guys have done a great job showing up each day ready to work.”
Junior cornerback Shemar Bartholomew had two of the Purple Swarm defense’s five turnover, snaring a pair of interceptions, including a diving pick to snuff out a two-minute drill.
Bartholomew, a New Orleans native, owns a pair of multi-interception games in his career as he enters his third season as a starter. His experience, along with fellow corner William Hooper, will be key as the Demons break in several new safeties.
Among those new faces in the secondary, freshman Kevin Davis Jr. had three tackles (one for loss), a forced fumble and a pass breakup while PJ Herrington added a pair of tackles and a big hit to force an incomplete pass.
“It was great to get out and play some live situations; it’s been a long time,” Bartholomew said. “Turnovers, it’s great to have those. Three-and-outs, interceptions, forced fumbles, that’s what we want to do to help get the offense the ball back. Our safeties did well today. We have good chemistry and went out and played great today.”
In addition to Bartholomew’s two picks, linebacker Bishop Breaux snared and Jomard Valsin had one of the two fumble recoveries for the Purple Swarm.
“Shemar is now in his third year as a starter, and those are the expectations we have of him,” Laird said. “We expect him to be able to make those plays in live situations. There are so many guys who have that experience that our new guys – and inexperienced guys – are looking up to for leadership.”
In between the turnovers, the Demon offense showed its big-play ability, especially on the ground.
Junior running back Scooter Adams broke free on a 72-yard scamper on the second play of the scrimmage, taking the ball to the 3-yard line and setting the tone for a day in which three different Demon ballcarriers had at least an 18-yard gain.
Redshirt freshman Aubrey Scott’s 48-yard run set up quarterback Zachary Clement’s 22-yard touchdown run on the ensuing play while Curtis Williams started a drive with an 18-yard burst through a wide-open right side.
The Adams-Scott-Williams trio combed for 182 rushing yards on 19 carries, averaging 9.6 yards per rush.
Kaleb Fletcher provided the other touchdown for the offense, connecting with Jaheim Walters on a 25-yard touchdown pass on a third-and-10.
“We look forward to plays like that,” Williams said of the chunk runs. “We pride ourselves on the big plays and hitting home runs. Every day we come out, we look forward to those especially with the O-line doing what they do.”
The Demons return to practice Tuesday as they continue preparations for the Feb. 20 season opener at Lamar. NSU’s first home game is scheduled for March 6 against Nicholls.
Eddie Godina 21 FG
Zachary Clement 22 run (Godina kick)
Daniel Justino 33 FG
Jahiem Walters 25 pass from Kaleb Fletcher (Justino kick)
Justino 34 FG
Godina 43 FG
RUSHING (41-228, 1 TD) -– Scooter Adams 7-78, Aubrey Scott 3-56, Curtis Williams 9-48, Trevor Morgan 5-17, Clement 4-11, Erik Hart 3-10, Fletcher 6-9, Rivers 3-(-1).
PASSING (21-48-3 201 1 TD) – Fletcher 10-21-0 124 1 TD; Clement 6-12-2 44; Rivers 6-15-1 33.
RECEIVING – Levar Gumms 3-24; Scott 2-31; Javon Antonio 2-19; Gavin Landry 2-13; Hart 2-2; Caleb Laboy 1-32; Walters 1-25; Scooter Adams 1-16; Marquise Bridges 1-12; Kendall Baker 1-10; Gabriel Ernest 1-5; Kendrick Price 1-4; David Fitzwater 1-3; Morgan 1-3; LC Greenwood 1-2; Torrell Levias 1-0
Shemar Bartholomew 1 tackle, 2 INTs TFL; Bishop Breaux 6 tackles, INT; Jomard Valsin Jr. 3 tackles, FF, FR; Isaiah Longino 2 tackles, 2 QB hurries; Kevin Davis Jr. 3 tackles; 1 PBU, FF, TFL; Malik Carey 3 tackles, PBU; Johnathan Daigle 1 tackle, 2 sacks, 2 QB hurries; Landon King 4 tackles; Nick Allen 2 tackles, 1 sack; Donovan Green 1 sack, 1 PBU; Donovan Duvernay 4 tackles; John Alex-Perkins, 1 sack; Rashuad Powell 2 tackles; Keenan Leachman 3 tackles; PJ Herrington 2 tackles; Tobias Williams 1 tackle; William Hooper 1 tackle, QB hurry; Dante Thomas 1 tackle; Trey Williams 2 PBUs; Isaiah Robinson 1 tackle; Blake Stephenson 1 tackle.