Stephen F. Austin 25, NW Louisiana 20
NATCHITOCHES, La. (AP) _ Dameian Vallery’s 66-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter helped Stephen F. Austin clinch a 25-20 win over Northwestern State Thursday night in a Southland Conference match.
Stephen F. Austin, ranked fifth in Division I-AA, ended its regular season at 9-1 overall and 4-1 in the SLC _ second to unbeaten and No. 1 ranked McNeese State. No. 21 Northwestern ends its season at 6-5 and 2-3.
Vallery ran for 169 yards on 19 carries and Leonard Harris had a game-high 181 yards on 28 carries, including a 3-yard touchdown run.
The Demons’ Clarence Matthews, the league’s leading rusher, had 172 yards on 22 carries, including a 69-yard touchdown that opened the scoring four minutes into the game.
The Lumberjacks answered with the first of two touchdown passes by quarterback James Ritchey.
Chris Jefferson’s 4-yard scoring catch capped a 9-play, 74-yard drive and got SFA within 7-6 before the conversion kick was blocked with 7:39 left in the quarter.
SFA moved ahead 12-7 on Harris’ 3-yard touchdown with 13:11 before halftime.
Midway through the third quarter, Ritchey threw a 79-yard touchdown strike to Kevin Goodwin and stretched SFA’s lead to 19-7.
But Northwestern came back. William Williber scored from 5 yards out but the Demons missed the conversion kick to end the drive at 19-13 with 3:42 left.
Vallery’s 66-yard touchdown came with 27 seconds left in the third quarter.
The Demons again answered, with Brad Laird throwing a 15-yard touchdown pass to Pat Palmer with 12:16 to go for a 25-20 score.
Northwestern got a chance to win the game after Joe Cummings, who blocked SFA’s first conversion kick, blocked the Lumberjacks’ 33-yard field goal attempt with 6:38 left. But Laird lost a fumble at the Demons’ 46 while scrambling with 2:41 remaining. SFA’s Adam Rosso recovered and the Lumberjacks got two first downs to run out the clock, giving them their best regular season record in school history.