From SFA Athletics
NACOGDOCHES, TX (Press Release)
Stephen F. Austin closes out the 2015 schedule with a trip across the Sabine, facing border rival Northwestern State at 3 p.m. Saturday, November 21st, at Turpin Stadium in Natchitoches, Louisiana. The game against the Demons marks the annual Battle for Chief Caddo as the 2015 edition marks the 50th showdown since the inception of the Chief in 1961.
LUMBERJACKS ON THE WEB
Lumberjack fans unable to make it to Natchitoches for the annual Chief Caddo game against Northwestern State can still keep up with SFA’s quest to retain the Chief. Live video is available for a fee through DemonTV at NSUDemons.com as Saturday’s game is the lone contest among SFA’s 11-game schedule that will not be televised. Rob Meyers will have the call of the game on the radio at Q107.7 FM as fans can listen online at Q1077.com. Live stats will be available through NSUDemons.com with in-game Twitter updates available @SFA_Football.
HISTORY OF THE CHIEF
Since 1961, SFA and Northwestern State have staged an annual challenge for Chief Caddo, the largest traveling trophy in all of college sports. Standing seven feet, six inches tall and weighing over 320 pounds, the statue was decided upon by both schools paying tribute to the legendary chief whose tribes were responsible for settling the locations that are currently known as Nacogdoches and Natchitoches. In the 49 Chief games, the Demons hold a 29-19-1 (.602) edge in the series but the Lumberjacks currently are in possession of the Chief following their 27-24 win at Homer Bryce Stadium in 2014 as the Chief has resided in his hometown of Nacogdoches five of the last six seasons.
SCOUTING THE DEMONS
2015: 3-7 overall, 3-5 Southland Conference, 2-2 at home
Last Three Games: L at Sam Houston State (59-21), W vs. Abilene Christian (39-22), W at Nicholls (37-21)
Head Coach: Jay Thomas (Southern Miss, 1988). Third season at NSU (15-19, 441); Ninth season overall (42-54, .438)
Key Offensive Players:
• #13 Stephen Rivers (Sr., QB): 88-of-136 (64.7%) for 1,092 yds., 8 TDs, 5 INTs
• #25 De’Mard Llorens (Jr., RB): 160 rushes for 779 yds. (4.9 avg.), 11 TDs
• #4 Daniel Taylor (Sr., RB): 96 rushes for 439 yds. (4.6 avg.), 4 TDs; 16 catches for 165 yds. (10.3 avg.), 1 TD
• #7 Ed Eagan (Sr., WR): 50 catches for 670 yds. (13.4 avg.), 4 TDs; 32 kick returns for 760 yds. (23.8 avg.), 1 TD
• #15 Shakeir Ryan (Jr., WR): 24 catches for 280 yds. (11.7 avg.), 3 TDs
Key Defensive Players:
• #59 Jacob Merriman (Sr., LB): 89 tackles (45 solo), 3.5 TFL, 1.5 sacks, 1 PBU, 1 FF, 1 FR
• #6 Chase Collins (Sr., S): 55 tackles (33 solo), 1.5 TFL, 1 INT, 1 PBU, 1 FF, 1 FR
• #26 Darius Poullard (Jr., S): 54 tackles (32 solo), 3.0 TFL, 3.0 sacks, 1 INT, 2 FF, 2 FR
• #92 Leroy Armstrong (Sr., DE): 41 tackles (23 solo), 5.0 TFL, 1 FF, 1 FR
• #3 Adam Jones (Jr., S): 41 tackles (29 solo), 2 PBU, 2 FR
Synopsis: Northwestern State enters the final weekend of the regular season at 3-7 on the year and 3-5 in Southland Conference play, coming off a 59-21 loss at Sam Houston State on Saturday. The Demons and Lumberjacks’ seasons have nearly mirrored each other as the two got off to rocky starts before notching some wins in the second half of the season. NSU began the year 0-5 and has won three of its last five games, including victories against Abilene Christian, Nicholls and Lamar. Northwestern State enters the weekend averaging 27.4 points and 389.6 yards of total offense per game, running a balanced offensive attack that averages 197.8 yards on the ground and 191.8 yards through the air. Senior WR Ed Eagan has again highlighted the Demons’ offensive attack, averaging 148.7 yards of all-purpose yards per game (67.0 receiving and 81.7 return). Defensively, Northwestern State is allowing 41.8 points and 503.9 yards per game, giving up 289.5 rushing yards and 214.4 passing yards. Senior LB Jacob Merriman leads the Demons with 89 tackles on the year with LB Darius Poullard leading the team with three sacks. NSU also boasts one of the top kickers in the league as senior Chris Moore has hit 12 of his 14 field goal attempts, including a long of 52.
Saturday marks the 72nd meeting between the border rivals as Northwestern State owns a 43-25-3 (.627) record in the all-time series. SFA won the last meeting between the two, defeating the Demons 27-24 on a last second kick at Homer Bryce Stadium in 2014, as the Lumberjacks have won five of the last six meetings between the two. SFA is 12-17-1 (.417) all-time in Natchitoches, earning its last win at Turpin Stadium in 2011 in a 33-0 victory. Head coach Clint Conque is very familiar with Northwestern State, posting a 5-3 (.625) record against the Demons during his career.
LUMBERJACKS ROAR PAST HUSKIES, 55-20, ON SENIOR DAY
Playing its final home game of the 2015 season, SFA secured its seventh-straight winning season at home with a 55-20 victory over SLC newcomer Houston Baptist. Leading 20-10 at halftime, the Lumberjacks recorded 28 third quarter points to break the game open, cruising to the 35-point victory. QB Zach Conque threw for 270 yards and three touchdowns while rushing for 53 yards and a pair of scores as three different rushers ran for 80 yards or more in the win. SFA posted a season-high 671 yards of offense and ran a balanced and efficient attack, rushing for 343 and passing for 328 as 11 different Lumberjack receivers caught at least one pass on the afternoon. Defensively, the ‘Jacks held HBU to just 323 total yards, including 138 in the second half, registering eight tackles for loss and a pair of sacks.
CONQUE NAMED SLC OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Senior QB Zach Conque earned Southland Conference Offensive Player of the Week honors after guiding the Lumberjacks to the 55-20 win over Houston Baptist Saturday. Playing just two and a half quarters, Conque accumulated 323 yards of total offense and five touchdowns in the win, throwing for 270 yards and three scores while rushing for 53 yards and two touchdowns. On the year, Conque has thrown for 1,765 yards and 15 touchdowns while rushing for 506 yards and 10 scores.
One of the goals of head coach Clint Conque’s offensive game plan has been balance in both the rushing and passing games. Through 10 games this season, SFA is averaging 216.4 rushing yards and 224.5 passing yards per game with a number of players contributing on both sides. On the ground, three different players have rushed for over 500 yards, comprised of Loren Easly (728), Joshawa West (566) and Zach Conque (506). When it comes to the receiving corps, seven different players have over 200 receiving yards on the season, including Aaron Piper(379), Robert Sylvester (364), De’Quann Ruffin (332), Justice Liggins (276), Aaron Thomas (210),Joshawa West (204) and Judah Jones (202). 16 different players have caught at least one pass for SFA on the season, giving Conque multiple options in leading the passing attack.
After a slow start to the 2015 season, Stephen F. Austin’s defensive line has started to take shape in the second half of the year. Sophomore DE John Franklin notched another sack against Houston Baptist Saturday and continues to lead the ‘Jacks with five on the year, one better than junior DE Kedrick Harrison’s four sacks. Of the 18 sacks registered by the Lumberjack defensive unit thus far in 2015, 16.5 have been recorded by players who will return to the lineup next season, causing a great of excitement for head coach Clint Conqueand defensive coordinator Matt Williamson.
DEFENSE STRIKES AGAIN
SFA’s defensive once again put an exclamation point on a convincing victory as the Lumberjack defense recorded its third touchdown of the season against Houston Baptist. Freshman CB Trevon Smith returned a Max Staver interception 32-yards to the endzone midway through the fourth quarter for his first collegiate touchdown and providing the last SFA points in the win over the Huskies. Smith is the second underclassmen to record a pick-six in as many home games, joining S Marlon Walls’ 13-yard interception return for a touchdown against Incarnate Word.
CONQUE MOVES UP RECORD BOOK
Junior QB Zach Conque had another solid performance in the win over Houston Baptist Saturday, en route to earning SLC Offensive Player of the Week honors. He continues to emerge as one of the top dual-threat quarterbacks in the country as he is one of just seven quarterbacks at the Division I level (FBS and FCS) that has both passed and rushed for at least 20 touchdowns since the start of the 2014 season, joined by Cal Poly’s Chris Brown, Chattanooga’s Jacob Huesmann, Houston’s Greg Ward Jr., Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott, Montana State’s Dakota Prukop and North Carolina’s Marquise Williams . With his efforts over the weekend, Conque is now tied for fifth all-time in career rushing touchdowns (23) while sitting sixth in career completions (417), seventh in career total offense (5,630), eighth in career passing yards (4,498) and ninth in career passing touchdowns (30).
CONQUE AGAINST THE HOMELAND
SFA head coach Clint Conque, a native of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, has enjoyed some success against Louisiana schools since coming to the Lone Star state. In his first two seasons at SFA, Conque is 6-1 against schools from the Bayou State and is 3-0 in games in his home state. SFA is 2-0 against both Nicholls and Southeastern Louisiana since the start of the 2014 season, is 1-0 against Northwestern State and has posted a 1-1 mark against McNeese State. For his coaching career, Conque has posted a 25-13 (.658) mark against Louisiana schools.
SFA STRIVING TO MAINTAIN STREAKS
SFA has established itself as one of the nation’s top offensive and passing teams in the country over the past several seasons as the Lumberjacks lead the nation with a pair of impressive extended streaks. Entering the 2015 season, SFA has averaged at least 30 points per game for seven-straight years, tops among FCS programs, ahead of Eastern Washington (six) and Montana State (five). SFA has also made it’s mark as one of the nation’s top passing teams as the Lumberjacks have averaged 337.1 passing yards per game since the start of 2008, which is also tops in the FCS ahead of Eastern Washington (318.0), Fordham (288.0) and Idaho State (280.8). Through 10 games in 2015, the Lumberjacks are averaging 29.9 points and 224.5 passing yards per game, meaning SFA needs to score 31 points or more against Northwestern State to keep the point streak alive.
LUMBERJACKS ON NOVEMBER 21
Saturday’s game is the 11th time SFA will have suited up on November 21st, posting a 2-8 record on the date previously. The last four times the ‘Jacks have played on November 21st it has been against Northwestern State, including a 19-10 victory over the Demons in 2009. SFA has also played Sam Houston State four times and A&M-Commerce three times on November 21st.