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Demons battle heat, each other in first scrimmage
by LaMar Gafford
Aug 14, 2014 | 161 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Northwestern State true freshman running back Nigel Dora got a rude welcome after catching a pass when redshirt freshman Manuel Mukes IV caused him to fumble during the Demons’ first intrasquad scrimmage Aug. 9 at Turpin Stadium. Photo by Kevin Shannahan.
Northwestern State true freshman running back Nigel Dora got a rude welcome after catching a pass when redshirt freshman Manuel Mukes IV caused him to fumble during the Demons’ first intrasquad scrimmage Aug. 9 at Turpin Stadium. Photo by Kevin Shannahan.
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Wrapping up the first week of practice, the Northwestern State Demons were put to the test with their first live scrimmage of the preseason Aug. 9.

For 45 minutes, the Demons ran 56 plays in the controlled scrimmage battling the late morning heat.

“I saw some really good things out of our offense,” NSU head coach Jay Thomas said. “The offensive line really had a good day today. I saw some guys run some routes really well. We’re beginning to catch the ball a little bit better and as camp goes, we’ll get better with that. The quarterbacks threw the ball well.”

Northwestern State quarterbacks were 17-for-34 during the scrimmage, with sophomore Daniel Hazlewood leading the way completing six of his 11 passes for 83 yards.

Senior quarterback Zach Adkins was only 3-for-9 passing and threw for 17 yards, but showed off his nimble feet by rushing for 37 yards on five carries.

“He showed up and did really well,” junior defensive end Leroy Armstrong said. “Our offensive line did well too. They were aggressive and physical and that’s what we always need. They got a lot better and they push us to go harder.”

The Demons gained 328 yards---178 passing and 150 rushing---during the scrimmage, with a 50-yard scamper by sophomore running back and Natchitoches Central alum De’Mard Llorens highlighting a 97-yard drive.

“I like how we’re moving the ball up tempo and the defense is flying around,” junior wide receiver Ed Eagan said. “The coaches are doing a great job too, so we’re just listening to them and taking it one day at a time.”

While the offense had its high points, there remains to be work to be done.

“I thought the center-to-quarterback exchange was a little rough today,” Thomas said. “We put the ball on the ground too many times, I don’t want it on the ground any. We’ll continue to work on that.”

One play in particular came when a fumbled snap led to a safety for the aggressive Demon defense.

The “Purple Swarm” defense was in full effect as it registered several bone-jarring hits and seemed to be around the ball at all times.

Redshirt freshman cornerback Shane McLendon also gave the defense a score when he returned a Hazlewood pass 65 yards for a pick-six.

“The defense ran well today,” Thomas said. “There were some things we need to work on. We have to get better at defending and stopping the run. That’s a point of emphasis, but we’re going to work on that and get that corrected in the next couple of weeks.”

Safeties Chase Collins and Darius Poullard recorded team highs of four tackles, while senior cornerback Imoan Claiborne made three stops and a sack. NSU had 24 players to record a tackle.

“It’s coming together really well,” Claiborne said. This is probably one of the best springs that we’ve had so far, but we still need to get 11 guys to the ball at all times. We feel like if we can do that, we’ll win football games.”

NSU will have another scrimmage Saturday for 10 a.m. and a mock game Aug. 21 at 6 p.m. The Demons will open their season against Missouri State in Turpin Stadium Aug. 28 with a 6 p.m. kickoff.
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