For most of Saturday night’s Southland Conference matchup, the Northwestern State football went toe-to-toe with No. 19 Southeastern Louisiana.
However, the Demons were unable to maintain that momentum, allowing the Lions to pull away in what became a 44-27 Lions’ victory at Turpin Stadium, leaving the Demons searching for a complete performance.
“That’s the thing we looked for this past Saturday,” second-year head coach Brad Laird said. “You saw in this game against a top-25 team what we can do in all three phases. We’ve talked about it in the past, but we’re going to get it to where it’s 60 minutes. You look at the first 30 minutes, the back and forth, them throwing punches, us throwing punches. We left some things out there, but we come back and convert on a sack fumble. Then we go on a 15-play, 4:30-minute drive to kick the field goal and tie it 17-17.
“Then the things we did well for the first 40 minutes of the game, we stopped executing. They made some plays. We had some busted coverages. We couldn’t convert third downs. It’s disappointing, because you want your guys to feel that victory after 60 minutes, but we’re going to continue to get better.”
Northwestern State heads into its open week looking to put together a 60-minute performance when it next plays at nationally ranked Nicholls on Oct. 12.
With no opponent lurking at the end of the week, Laird and his staff can focus more inwardly following Saturday’s game.
“It’s an opportunity to get some guys healthy, but it’s also an opportunity to do some self-scouting, to look at ourselves as coaches,” Laird said. “We can see where we are, and what we can do better. It’s also a chance to do some self-scouting for the players as well, for them to say, ‘This is what I need to do as a football player.’ That in itself will make this football team better.”
While the Demons made plenty of plays to pull even with Southeastern Louisiana at the half, they missed some opportunities to pull ahead before Ryan Gremillion’s 25-yard, third-quarter field goal snapped the 17-all tie and pushed the Demons head.
It was Gremillion’s second field goal of the game. He hit a 24-yarder on the final play of the first half, converting on the first two field goal attempts of his career.
“That was good to see,” Laird said. “He’s done everything we asked, starting in spring when we asked him to come out and kick. He’s kept plugging. We didn’t have a field goal in the first four weeks, and he goes 2-for-2 – one on the last play of the half, and one to take the lead. It wasn’t kicking extra points or field goals down 50 when you’re just in there to kick. Those were important points, and it was good to see him capitalize on the opportunity.”