NATCHITOCHES, La. (NSU) – In their first season at Northwestern State, Travon Jones and Zach Patterson made an impact on Southland Conference coaches.
Patterson was named the Southland Conference’s Newcomer of the Year and Jones earned All-Southland Conference first-team recognition in the league’s post-season honors, which were announced Wednesday morning.
Patterson, a sophomore from East Mississippi Community College, scored 83 passes in his first season at Northwestern State – the second most catches in a single season in the program’s history. His 7.5 catches per game accelerated Southland and is the fifth best in FCS going into the playoffs.
Patterson surpassed the Demons with 710 receiving yards and finished second on the team with five touchdowns caught en route to earning a place in the other team’s offense.
Jones was Northwestern State’s lone first-team pick, earning a tight end/back spot after appearing as a factor in the Demon’s passing game while also being a proficient and willing blocker in the bottom half of NSU’s running game.
As a freshman who transferred from Chattanooga, Jones was the Demons’ fifth leading receiver with 20 catches for 265 yards and one touchdown. His 13.3 yards per catch average was the team’s best among receivers with at least 15 catches.
Three Demons offensive players and three Demons defenders earned All-Southland Conference second-team honors.
Quarterback Zachary Clement picked up the first Southland award of his career with 2,498 yards and 19 touchdowns, ranking in the NSU top 10 in a single season in attempts (410, 2), tackles (222, 4), touchdowns (4. ) and yards (5th).
In his eight starts, Clement averaged 312 yards per game. He tallied four touchdowns twice (compared to Lamar at Texas A&M-Commerce) and added 303 rushing yards and two touchdowns.
A Lafayette Christian product, Clement was ranked second in the Southland Conference in passing yards per game (227.1), touchdown passing (19), responsible points (128) and game responsible points (11.6).
Wide receiver Javon Antonio won second team honors after returning from the red jersey season in 2021 as he and Patterson were two of the second team’s three receivers. Antonio finished second on the Demons with 64 catches and 684 yards, leading NSU with six touchdown catches.
His 5.8 receptions per game ranked second in Southland behind Patterson and 25th nationally.
Antonio, an East St. product John High School and Hinds Community College, he made two NSU top 10 lists, finishing eighth in single-season touchdown catches and 10th in career touchdowns with 10.
Antonio’s arrival marks his second, second conference-wide team selection, honored in the Spring 2021 season.
On defense, the Demons also earned a trio of honors.
Jomard Valsin Jr. he capped his Northwestern State career with his second honor in the entire conference.
Named defensive guard for the second team, Valsin finished fourth on the team with 51 tackles and was fourth in tackles for the loss (5.0), switching between defensive and defending.
Valsin added a pair of blocked kicks as he finished 11th nationally and led the Southland Conference.
Port Arthur Memorial product Valsin was previously an All-Southland Conference first team selection for the 2021 Spring season.
Like Valsin, the Demon defensive back pair earned their second career honors in the entire conference.
Safety P.J. Herrington topped the stats in his final season at Northwestern State by finishing third on the team with 63 tackles, adding 3.5 tackles per loss, three pass breaks, sack, quarterback rush, forced fumble, and fumble recovery.
Herrington, a native of Natchez, Mississippi, returned from his season lone 38-yard touchdown interception on November 5 at Texas A&M-Commerce. It was the Demons’ first interception touchdown in nearly three years, as was Shemar Bartholomew’s 2019 Sam Houston score.
Selected in the spring of 2021 by the conference-wide third team, Herrington also earned conference-wide second-team honors as a punt returner averaging 11.5 yards per return on 13 attempts. Herrington had three punt returns of at least 19 yards, capped with a 31-yard run against Lamar on September 24.
Cornerback William Hooper, another senior, was runner-up in the conference and 24th nationally in passing defenders at 1.2 per game.
Hooper, a native of Montgomery, Alabama, started all 11 games as the Demons struggled with injuries in the corner. He added 29 tackles (20 solo) and blocked an extra point against Grambling – a game where the Demons blocked three extra points as a team.
Hooper’s 13 passed passes nearly matched his career going into his senior season as he ended his Demon tenure with 29 passes saved.
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