SFA (5-6 overall, 4-3 in the Southland) tied the game at 17 in the last minute of the third quarter, recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff and scored to go ahead, starting a 17-point fourth period that slammed the door on the visiting Demons (4-7, 2-5).
For the fourth straight year, the Lumberjacks claimed Chief Caddo, a 7-foot-6, 320-pound wooden statue of a mythical Native American paying homage to the original inhabitants of the region that both universities call home. It is the longest SFA win streak in the trophy series which dates back to 1961 in a rivalry that began in 1924.
“We were in great position. We just didn’t close it out,” said fourth-year Northwestern coach Bradley Dale Peveto. “Our guys fought their hearts out, but SFA made a lot of plays and we didn’t make as many.”
The Lumberjacks got 211 yards rushing from Gus Johnson while Brady Attaway threw for 326 yards, including touchdown passes of 3, 7 and 38 yards. SFA nearly matched its nation’s best 339-yard passing average and topped its 500-yard total offense norm (second in the FCS) with 533 combined yards, 298 in the final two quarters.
Meanwhile the Demons netted just 205 yards of offense, posting only 48 and just two first downs after halftime.
“It’s a team loss, in all three phases. SFA made more game-changing plays than we did,” said Peveto. “We made a tremendous goalline stand at the end of the half to keep it tied up. We made a great punt return (58 yards by Jamaal White) to put us in position to take the lead and we made a great throw and catch to go up 17-10 (Brad Henderson’s 16-yarder to a backpedaling, leaping Clifton Brown).
“We had our great moments, but you have to credit SFA for all the plays they made to swing the game in their favor,” said Peveto.
NSU rallied from a quick 10-0 deficit with a 27-yard John Shaughnessy field goal, his 11th consecutive make, and a laser-beam 52-yard Henderson throw to the end zone, where redshirt freshman Rod Davis stretched to complete the scoring strike that knotted the score 4:38 before halftime.
SFA drove 74 yards on 10 plays, burning its three timeouts along the way, but ran out of time at the half on two plays inside the 5-yard line.
White’s punt return and Henderson’s precisely thrown TD pass caught in spectacular fashion by Brown made it 17 unanswered Northwestern points just five minutes into the second half. But the Demons got only one more first down.