NATCHITOCHES - Northwestern State junior quarterback Paul Harris, who has been the Demons’ starter since the last four games of his true freshman season in 2009, has been suspended indefinitely because of conduct detrimental to the team, Northwestern coach Bradley Dale Peveto said Friday.
Harris, a former Tara High standout, did not return to the Demons’ season-opening game Thursday night after the second series of the 24-23 victory over Delta State.
His conduct on the sideline led Peveto to bench him for the remainder of the half. Further issues during halftime prompted Peveto to direct Harris to leave the locker room and sideline. Harris watched the rest of the game with his parents in the stands.
Junior college transfer Brad Henderson, who was already scheduled to play, took over at quarterback. Henderson completed a school-record 13 consecutive passes while sparking Northwestern from a 17-0 halftime deficit at Turpin Stadium.
Peveto informed the team of the disciplinary action Friday afternoon, and said neither he nor anyone else with the squad will discuss the situation further.
“It’s a family matter, and we’re keeping this within our family,” he said. “I’m very proud of how our team rallied around Brad Henderson and how he led our offense in a winning performance. We’re proud to have come from behind to beat a very, very talented Delta State team and we’re excited anticipating our game next Saturday at LSU.”
Henderson led the Demons to scores on four of their first five series after halftime, finishing 13 of 14 for 210 yards, including a 32-yard touchdown to senior tight end Justin Aldredge.
The comeback victory was the second-largest winning rally by the Demons in their Division I history, dating back to 1977. Northwestern won its 2005 season opener at Louisiana-Monroe 27-23, overcoming a 23-0 halftime deficit.
Henderson (5-foot-11, 210 pounds) was an honorable mention junior college All-American last year at East Mississippi Community College, throwing for 2,763 yards and 26 touchdowns while completing 59.8 percent of his passes.
Redshirt freshman Don Canyon will move into the backup role, with true freshman Grant Chiasson (6-0, 190, Thibodaux-E.D. White) as the third-team quarterback, offensive coordinator Todd Cooley said.
Harris threw for 29 yards and was 4-for-6 in his nine plays on the Demons’ first two possessions, as the Demons netted 17 yards, punting twice.
Harris ranks 10th in school history with 3,628 career total offensive yards and is also 10th in career passing yardage (2,828 yards). He was a second-team preseason All-Southland Conference selection. He has started 14 games, including nine last season.