On Thursday, the SLU Lions will travel up to Natchitoches for their first in-state conference matchup this season, against the Northwestern State Demons. This game was originally supposed to take place on Saturday afternoon, but the game was bumped up a couple of days in honor of Ronnie Caldwell, a junior safety, who passed away from injuries sustained from a shooting last week. Caldwell’s funeral will be taking place on Saturday, so to allow the players and coaching staff to attend, the game has been moved with Southland Conference and NCAA approval. This will be the first time the Demons take the field after Caldwell’s passing. NWST’s game against Nicholls State last week was cancelled and will not be made up.
NWST enters this matchup 0-5, and 0-1 in conference, with that loss coming from Lamar, who the Demons faced most recently, two weeks ago, by a score of 27-13. This is a team that has struggled to move the ball and generate offense, with both quarterbacks who have played this year combining for 794 yards and 3 touchdowns against 8 interceptions. Quaterius Hawkins leads the way, leading in attempts, yards, and QB rating, while Tyler Vander Waal isn’t far behind in yards or attempts, but has only completed 43.1 percent of passes against Hawkins’ 56.6. The two have also split interceptions, throwing four apiece.
Scooter Adams leads the Demons in rushing yards, with 157 on 33 carries. Leading NWST in carries, though, is Darius Boone Jr, with 42, for 131 yards. Kolbe Burrell and Kennieth Lacy are also featured heavily in the offense, as all four almost split carries exactly. Look for NWST to use this mix of running backs again this week. Adams has also caught two of the three receiving touchdowns this season for the Demons. The other touchdown was caught by Jaren Mitchell, who also leads the receiving core in yards with 151.
On defense for the Demons, linebackers Jaeden Ward and Jared Pedraza lead the team in tackles, with 42 each. This defense has registered four sacks, with defensive tackle Donovan Green having two. Green also has an interception, along with a forced fumble and recovery, and has been the leader of this defense overall.
For the Lions, Eli Sawyer exited last weeks game with an injury, and it’s unclear if he will be able to start on Thursday. If Sawyer is inactive, Zachary Clement will take control of the offense. Clement spent four years in Natchitoches before transferring to SLU this spring, so this is a defense he should be familiar with. No major updates have come out from SLU, so expect much of the same in terms of snap counts, target share, etc., from the Lions this week.
The Lions are coming off a 30-24 defeat at home from Lamar. Now 0-7, and the Demons sitting at 0-5, both teams are looking for their first win.
The game will kick off Thursday, October 19th, at 7 PM from Turpin Field in Natchitoches, Louisiana. The game will be broadcast on ESPN+, and, as always, the Southeastern Sports Radio Network.