Demon football fans held their breath in anticipation as the final quarter of the first home game came to a close and brought a 35-28 win against the Lamar University Cardinals.
The 2021 class heated the field with the traditional freshman Inferno run, joining spirit groups at the tunnel for Demon football players to run through as they made their field entrance.
“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” freshman Alexis Deshotel said. “My first football game and [the Inferno] run on the field was amazing.”
Fellow freshman and Inferno runner Elizabeth Coleman loved the idea behind the Inferno and school spirit at Northwestern State University.
“I think it’s awesome how they fully submerge the class of 2021 [as] part of the school,” she said.
The energy in Turpin Stadium was high as students and football fans alike gathered to cheer on the team. The Cardinals were welcomed into Demonland with anthems by the Spirit of Northwestern echoing throughout the stadium and an explosive student section intensified by the Inferno.
“There’s nothing like it; [We have] a great venue and great game day atmosphere,” Head Coach Jay Thomas said.
“Being able to play in front of our home crowd and being able to get that juice flowing and that energy going is [a great feeling],” Bluiett said.
“We let [a win] slip through our fingers [last year] and we don’t want to let that happen again,” Lazare said. “As long as we continue to have our mind and our heart in the right place, everything will be fine.”
Though the Demons began with a rough opening with three false starts in a row, they found their rhythm scoring the first touchdown of the game with 7:46 left in the first quarter.
The Cardinals matched the tempo of the Demons, scoring a touchdown and tying the score, but running back Jared West scored again to pull the Demons ahead 14-7.
The first Turpin halftime performance of the year included a combination of the Spirit of Northwestern and a group of middle and high school students called “Young Performers” who got a taste of the college band experience by practicing and performing with the band. The show once again highlighted the weekend’s activities, celebrating the Investiture of the President by spelling out Maggio.
Energy in the stadium remained high as the second half picked up, despite the tapering crowd.
The Demons had an unfortunate start with a fumble and recovery by the Cardinals, eventually landing Lamar another touchdown drive, but fought back with yet another touchdown by West.
Bluiett seemingly called the win earlier in the week on Sept. 12, sure of his teammates and their abilities.
“We’re confident we’re going to win at home because you have to protect your house,” he said.
And protect their house they did as the Demons fought their way into the fourth quarter with a quarterback run play by Almond, pushing the score to 35-21.
Lamar also scored early in the fourth quarter, but with an interception by cornerback Isaac Warren, the Demon win was secured.
Fans and spirit groups jumped to their feet as the clock ran out, and players rushed to the student section to celebrate by chanting the alma mater with pride.
The Demons will take on the Southeastern Lions at home again in Turpin Stadium Sept. 30 at 6:30 p.m.