All three of the local Northwest Louisiana took the show on the road and came up short. Louisiana Tech headed to Dallas to face SMU. Northwestern State Demons headed down I-49 to face state team Louisiana Ragin Cajuns. Grambling flew across the country to Harrison, New Jersey to take on Hampton University Pirates in the Brick City Classic.
SMU 38, Louisiana Tech 14
The newly crowned ACC member has been in the news all week, but it didn’t seem to phase the SMU Mustangs.
The Mustangs rushing offense accumulated 214 yards with LJ Johnson, Jr. rushing for a touchdown. The SMU defense broke through the offensive line and completed 6 sacks.
Louisiana Tech (1-1) quarterback Hank Bachmeier was 21 for 33 throwing 241 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Top targets for Bachmeier were shared between Koby Duru and Kyle Maxwell who each caught for 55 yards. Duru reached the end zone once. SMU defense covered up top target Smoke Harris who caught 7 for 47 yards. Keith Willis, Jr. crashed the end zone once. Cecil Singleton topped the Bulldog defense with 10 tackles.
SMU took a little while in the first quarter before scoring as Preston Stone connected with Jordan Hudson on a 67-yard touchdown reception. The Mustang defense put points on the board as Kori Roberson snagged an interception and returned it for a 16-yard touchdown. SMU was up 14-0 at the end of the first quarter.
Collin Roger popped the 34-yard field goal early in the second quarter to push the lead to 17-0. Stone and the Mustangs reached the end zone after an 11-play 98-yard drive that ended with Harris Matthews scoring on a 9-yard reception. With 2 seconds left in the half, Stone dealt a crushing blow to the Bulldogs heading into halftime on a 25-yard pass to RJ Maryland. The Mustangs held a 31-0 lead at halftime.
Louisiana Tech was down but not out. They were not going to allow a shutout. Bachmeier launched a 53-yard touchdown reception to Duru to give the Bulldogs their first score. Tech had cut the lead to 31-7 at the end of three quarters.
SMU late in the fourth quarter started in the Bulldog territory. The Tech defense forced a 13-play drive for only 46 yards. Unfortunately, LJ Johnson reached the end zone for the Mustangs and built the lead to 38-7. Louisiana Tech still had some grit left as they scored in the final 30 seconds on a 2-yard run but not enough to over the Mustang win.
Hampton 33, Grambling 31
The Grambling Tigers comeback came up a little short in Brick City Classic in Harrison, New Jersey on Saturday afternoon.
Hampton’s rushing offense piled on 295 yards. Quarterback Christopher Zellous led the Pirates' rushing attack with 15 carries for 125 yards and two touchdowns. Darran Butts also had 14 carries for 103 yards and a touchdown. TK Paisant and Evan King each caught a touchdown.
Grambling quarterback Myles Crawley threw 25 for 38 for 311 yards and 2 touchdowns. Lyndon Rash was the top receiving target with 8 receptions for 90 yards and a touchdown. Joshua Quiett also caught a touchdown for the Tigers. Chance Williams and Floyd Chalk each reached the end zone once. Javon Carter, Lewis Matthews, and Kevin Thomas each had 8 tackles. Cedric Anderson and Javan Singletary each snagged an interception.
Grambling (0-1) took the first score of the season with a 9-yard touchdown pass from Myles to Quiett. The Tigers failed on the two-point conversion. Hampton answered with on the next drive when Darren Butts bolted to the end zone on a 40-yard run. Hampton had a slight 7-6 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The Tigers reached field goal range in the second after an 11-play, 40-yard drive. Tanner Rinker booted the 31-yard field goal to regain the lead for Grambling. Little under two minutes later, Zellous flung a 41-yard touchdown pass to TK Paisant for the Pirates to recapture the lead at 14-9. Hampton added another touchdown in the first half with another touchdown pass from Zellous but this time to Evan King on a 16-yard pass. Hampton led at halftime 21-9.
Grambling closed the gap to 21-17 with a 1-yard crash into the end zone by Floyd Chalk. Myles to Quiett converted the two-point conversion pass.
Zellous escaped on a quarterback keeper for a 22-yard TD run to push the lead back to 11 points in the fourth quarter. Time was running out for the Tigers. Grambling moved back to within three points at 28-25 as Landyn Rash caught a 36-yard touchdown pass from Myles at the beginning of the fourth quarter. Grambling the game within reach until 3:03 remaining when Zellous took a second quarterback keeper on an 11-yard touchdown run to push the lead to 35-25. The G-Men tried one last gasp as they scored with 57 seconds remaining 3-yard touchdown run from Chance Willaims to close the gap to 35-31. Grambling goes for the onside kick but Hampton recovers and runs the clock out on G-Men.
Louisiana 38, NSU 13
Northwestern State (0-1) stayed in state and headed to Lafayette to open the 2023 season against Lafayette. The Demons had a time overcoming the Ragin Cajuns with 429 yards of total offense. The Cajun’s defense broke through Northwestern State’s offensive line to sack Tyler Vander Waal five times. NSU also struggled on the third down conversion going 2 for 19.
Vander Waal’s debut for the Demons had a 12 for 28 performance throwing 110 yards for one touchdown. Scooter Adams was the top receiver with 48 yards and a touchdown. Adams was also the top rusher with 8 carries for 33 yards. The Demon defense saw Jared Pedraza and Donovan Green share top tackles with 5. Green also had two tackles for a loss, a fumble recovery, and a sack. Kevin Davis also collected a sack. Cadillac Rhone and Cam Hardy also forced fumbles. Trevion Sneed grabbed an interception for the Demons.
Louisiana quarterback Ben Wooldridge passed 14 for 32 for 223 yards three touchdowns and one interception. Wooldridge also added a rushing touchdown. Dre’Lyn Washington was the top rusher for the Ragin Cajuns with 8 carries for 88 yards and a touchdown. Peter LeBlanc was the top receiver with 58 yards and a touchdown. Robert Williams and Tavion Smith each caught a TD. Jordan Lawson grabbed 6 tackles for Louisiana along with 2.5 tackles for loss and picked up 2 sacks. K.C. Ossai also caused havoc for Northwester with 6 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, and a sack. Tyree Skipper and Kendre’ Gant each had 6 tackles. Gant added a fumble recovery for the defense. Antoine Baylis recorded a sack.
Louisiana started early scoring in the first five minutes with a breakaway run for 62 yards by Dre’lyn Washington on the first Cajun possession. Northwestern caught a break later in the first quarter as Jacob Bernard muffed a 25-yard punt to put the Demons on the Louisiana 14. The Demons gained 6 yards and had to settle for a 37-yard field goal and cut the gap to 7-3 which Louisiana maintained until the end of the first quarter.
Early in the second quarter NSU started their first drive on their own 7. With a three and out, a 30-yard put gave UL the ball on the NSU 41. Ben Wooldridge escaped the NSU defense and took the quarterback keeper 24 yards for a Cajun touchdown. The Louisiana defense held the Demons on their next drive and once again got the ball in Demon territory. The big plays continued for the Ragin Cajuns as Wooldridge connected with Robert Williams on a 32-yard touchdown pass to push the lead to 21-3. With a little over five minutes remaining in the first half, NSU caught a break or an interception by Trevion Sneed at the Cajun 41. NSU took the risk on a 4th and 6 at UL 37 and converted with Vander Waal finding an opening and getting the first down. Northwestern would reach the Louisiana 24 and had to settle for a 41-yard field goal from Brett Money. The Demons headed into halftime down 21-6.
The big play of the Ragin Cajun bit the Demons once more as Wooldridge launched a 50-yard rocket to Peter LeBlanc for a touchdown to push the lead to 28-6. Louisiana threatened again to add to the score in the final minutes of the third quarter. Northwestern ended the third quarter sacking Wooldridge on the NSU 16
The first play of the fourth quarter started with Louisiana’s Kenneth Almendares kicking a 33-yard field goal to push the lead to 31-6. Louisiana wasn’t done with NSU. They took their time on a 10-play, 68-yard drive which ended with a 21-yard touchdown pass from Wooldridge to Tavion Smith. NSU added one more score when Scooter Adams caught a 47-yard touchdown pass from Vander Waal.
Preview Week 3
Next week will see of our local teams clash as Northwestern State and Louisiana Tech will face each other at 6 p.m. at Joe Aillet Stadium next Saturday night. Grambling State will head to Baton Rouge not to face Southern, but Death Valley against LSU Tigers at 6:30 on Saturday night.