Southland Conference Game of the Week
The first three seasons of Brad Laird’s tenure as the head coach at his alma mater have produced record-setting offenses, turnover-happy defenses and arguably the most challenging set of circumstances faced by a Northwestern State football team. As Laird enters his fourth season at the helm of the Demon football program, he is ready to build on the promise shown in an abbreviated spring 2021 season.
In four seasons, Fred “Air” McNair has coached the Braves to four SWAC East Division titles and a pair of SWAC Championships. The two-time SWAC Coach of the Year winner brought the Braves to the Celebration Bowl in both 2018 and 2019. He is the original “Air McNair” and the older brother of the late Tennessee Titans quarterback and 2003 Co-Most Valuable Player, Steve “Air II” McNair.
Northwestern State Demons (0-1, 0-0 in Southland)
Northwestern State kicked off its first fall season since 2019 by traveling to North Texas in a matchup of former Southland Conference rivals. UNT’s final Southland football season came in 1994, which marked the most recent meeting between the teams. The Demons turned the ball over four times, allowing North Texas to pull away for a 44-14 victory at Apogee Stadium. Quarterback Kaleb Fletcher was 13-of-22 for 134 yards with one touchdown pass and an interception. Workhorse running back Scooter Adams carried the ball 12 times for 92 yards and a rushing touchdown. Wide receiver Kendrick Price Jr. had one reception, but it was a big one – Fletcher hit Kendrick Price on a slant route, and Price broke through a one-on-one tackle, turning it into a 65-yard touchdown.
Alcorn State Braves (0-1, 0-0 in SWAC)
It had been nearly two years since the last time Alcorn State played a football game before suiting up to face North Carolina Central in the MEAC/SWAC Challenge to open the 2021 campaign. North Carolina Central came away with a 23-14 victory – the game was nationally televised on ESPN, and no it wasn’t ESPN+ either. Braves QB Felix Harper was 17-of-27 for 154 yards and two touchdown passes without an interception. Running back Stadford Andersonn amassed 105 yards on just seven carries in the first half, including a long run of 68 yards in the opening frame. Anderson finished with 128 yards on just 11 carries. Wide receiver Juan Anthony Jr. had five receptions for 66 yards and a touchdown catch.
The Braves will bounce back from their upset loss in the opening week – and prove that they can still be a contender for the SWAC conference title. Northwestern State will not make it easy though.
Alcorn State 28 Northwestern State 24
Other games of interest
The Lions scored 22 straight points in the second half to pull away for a 49-28 victory over North Alabama in the season opener at Braly Stadium in Alabama. The contest was originally scheduled to be played in Hammond, LA but the effects of Hurricane Ida forced the game to be moved to Florence, Alabama. Louisiana Tech coughed up a huge lead to lose 35-34 at Mississippi State last week.
Louisiana Tech 38, Southeastern Louisiana 31
The Colonels notched touchdowns in its opening drive of each half against Memphis, but the Tigers scored 32 straight points in between as Nicholls fell in their 2021 opener 42-17 at the Liberty Bowl. The Ragin’ Cajuns trailed their season opener 14-6 at halftime but were worn down in the second half during coach Steve Sarkisian’s debut with the Longhorns.
Louisiana-Lafayette 45, Nicholls 24
Even though Colorado defeated the Bears 35-7 in the season opener, Northern Colorado head coach Ed McCaffrey was bullish on what he saw from his team. HBU recovered from a slow first quarter start to get within a score in the fourth quarter before falling to New Mexico 27-17 in Albuquerque.
Houston Baptist 37, Northern Colorado 34
Cody Orgeron threw for 367 yards and two touchdowns and ran for another 35 yards and a score, but the No. 1 team in Division II, West Florida, took advantage of critical McNeese penalties and scored touchdowns on six of 10 possessions to beat the Cowboys 42-36 in the 2021 season opener. LSU sure didn’t start the season the way they wanted after falling 38-27 to UCLA in the opener. This game is intriguing because LSU head coach Ed Orgeron is McNeese QB Cody Orgeron’s father.
LSU 48 McNeese 13
The PVAMU Panthers outgained Texas Southern 486-274 in their 40-17 season-opening win. Incarnate Word kicked off its first game of the 2021 season with a 44-41 overtime loss to Youngstown State in Youngstown. The Cardinal defense has a lot of work to do if they want to contend in the Southland.
Incarnate Word 41, Prairie View A&M 37
Rob Butler is a lifelong Texas A&M football fan – his family is full of A&M graduates. He graduated from Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas with two degrees – a BBA in Finance and an MBA. His hobbies include jogging and reading books pertaining to college football.