Zach Adkins connected with freshman Shakeir Ryan on the go-ahead 51-yard touchdown pass to lead Northwestern State to a 23-17 season-opening victory over the Missouri State Bears, Thursday evening at Plaster Field. The Demons scored 13 unanswered points over the final 24 minutes, in a game that featured a pair of ties and four lead changes.

Northwestern State’s Adam Jones jarred the ball free on a Kierra Harris-to-Julian Burton completion and fell on a crucial fumble recovery at the Bears’ 13 yard line to set up a four-yard run by Adkins that tied the score 17-17.

The NSU defense held its ground on the ensuing MSU drive, before Adkins found a wide-open Ryan streaking down the sideline for what would prove to be the game-winning score with 14:36 left in the game.