NSU visits Grambling in first meeting since 2009
GRAMBLING – Northwestern State is seeking a signature win to demonstrate a palpable turnaround in the program’s fortunes.
Nationally-ranked (No. 23 in the FCS Coaches’ Poll, No. 24 in the STATS media voting) Grambling hopes to make a successful homefield debut and avoid consecutive losses for the first time in two seasons.
Kickoff is 6 p.m. at Grambling’s Robinson Stadium. The Tigers haven’t played at home since they won the Southwestern Athletic Conference title and were eventually crowned the national HBCU champions for 2016.
The Demons and Tigers are both 0-1 in 2017, dropping their openers on the road to FBS opponents. NSU played four miles east of Grambling last week, faltering in the final 16 minutes as Louisiana Tech broke a 24-all tie and scored four straight touchdowns over the next 13 minutes. The G-Men fell behind 24-0 at halftime to Tulane’s option-based offense and were defeated 43-14 by the Green Wave.
It’s the first meeting of the programs since 2009 and only the fourth all-time. The Demons are aiming for their first win over a ranked FCS foe since 2014, when they beat Sam Houston State.
NSU’s competitiveness at Louisiana Tech was easy to see in person or on television, belied by the outcome to some degree. The Demons and Bulldogs battled on even terms into the fourth quarter.
But for a program that won only once last season, there’s no solace in strictly being competitive against a favored opponent. The NSU squad is eager to walk off the field after joyfully signing the Demon Fight Song following postgame handshakes.
“We definitely played three quarters of solid football, and we saw truly that when we execute consistently, we can be really good,” said NSU senior linebacker Peyton Guidry.
“We’re looking forward to the challenge. Grambling has a lot of athletes who can make plays at any point on the field and we have to be better than we were last week to succeed,” he said.
“We don’t like to reiterate what happened last year, but we haven’t forgotten about it,” said Demons’ senior receiver Bobby Chan-Chan. “That has definitely put a fire in our bellies, and we attack every rep, every down, every day, with a mission, something to prove, and we look forward to the opportunity.”
The Tigers have a dynamic backfield duo with senior quarterback DeVante Kincade and running back Martez Carter, an NFL Draft prospect who had 11 rushing touchdowns last season and two more against Tulane on just five carries (68 yards).
The Demons are led offensively by senior quarterback J.D. Almond (162 yards passing, 18 receiving in week one), Chan-Chan (77 yards on seven receptions, 45 yards on two pass completions, one for a TD), and running back Chris Jones (60 yards, 16 carries, one TD).
Four seniors, including three linebackers, top the Demons’ Purple Swarm defense. Nick Pierotti made eight tackles, while Guidry and Chrishard Buhl had seven along with senior safety Austin Balthazor. Junior defensive end Obinna Iheoma collected five stops, including a sack and forced fumble that set up an NSU score.
Grambling’s defense was spearheaded by defensive back Montreal Meander with 11 tackles.
The NSU radio broadcast can be heard on the Demon Sports Network, flagshipped by 100.7 FM KZBL in Natchitoches. Affiliates are News Radio 710 KEEL AM in Shreveport, Sunny 106.9 KEDG FM in Alexandria and KWLA 103.1 FM serving Many and Leesville. A live stream of the broadcast including play-by-play man Patrick Netherton, analyst Richard de Vargas and sideline reporter Tony Taglavore, is available at NSUDemons.com.
The Demons come home next Saturday for the first Turpin Stadium appearance of five in 2017, hosting Lamar in the Southland Conference opener. Grambling begins SWAC play at home against Jackson State.
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