A team of destiny. In 1987, the Northeast Louisiana University Indians (now UL-Monroe Warhawks) brought a national championship to north Louisiana. NLU won the Division 1-AA (now FCS) title, beating Marshall 43-42, led by quarterback and Shreveport native Stan Humphries.
NLU was coached by Pat Collins. That year, Collins put together a staff that included Bob Lane, a former NLU quarterback himself, to coach the quarterbacks. Roger Carr, the former wide receiver from La. Tech and played with Bert Jones and the Baltimore Colts, coached the wide receivers. The Offensive Coordinator and Assistant Coach was Willie Ragan, a former coach at Monroe’s Neville High School.
Collins implemented a one-back set that allowed him to put all of his receivers on the field at one time. But, he would also run the I-formation and the wishbone at the goal line, just to keep the defense guessing and force them to account for everyone.
In 1987, NLU was led by quarterback Stan Humphries. Humphries, 6-2, 223, was a prep All-American from Southwood H.S. in Shreveport. He originally signed with LSU out of high school, but LSU had a pretty good quarterback in two-year starter, Jeff Wickersham. So, Humphries decided to transfer to NLU (1985-87).
During that championship season, Humphries was named the Southland Conference Offensive Player of the Year and 1st team 1-AA All-American. In his 2 years at NLU, he passed for 4,395 yards and 29 touchdowns. He holds the school record for 300-yard passing games with eight.
An interesting fact about the team was that the backup quarterback was Doug Pederson, who would go on to play in the NFL and later coach the Philadephia Eagles to a Super Bowl title.
NLU came charging out of the gate, winning their first four games. They outscored La. Tech and Texas State 88-14. They had two losses in the regular season: to Lamar 48-28 and UL-Lafayette 17-7.
But the Indians won four straight games to finish the regular season 9-2, including a win over a Southern Miss team led by a quarterback named Brett Favre. NLU was the only 1-AA team to have a win over a 1-A team with a winning record. Southern Miss was 6-5 that year.
Drawing the #3 seed, NLU (12-2) defeated North Texas 30-9 in the first round of the 1-AA playoffs. They held off Eastern Kentucky in the quarterfinal game 33-32. And, would get a close victory again in the semifinal game vs Northern Iowa.
That would set up a championship game matchup with Marshall (10-4). The game was played in Pocatello, Idaho at the ASISU Minidome, home to Idaho State University. The game was televised on ESPN.
The Championship Game
In front of a crowd of 11, 513, the Indians scored first on a 15-yard run by Henry Richard and would lead 21-13 at halftime. But at the start of the third quarter, Marshall would outscore NLU 29-7 to take a 42-28 lead.
So, in the fourth quarter, the NLU defense stepped up and held Marshall scoreless in the final period, while intercepting three passes. This allowed NLU to mount a comeback. Humphries would throw a touchdown pass to Kenneth Johnson and convert on a 2-point play.
Then with 7:19 left in the third quarter, Humphries would score the game-winning touchdown on a 3-yard run to secure the victory 43-42 and a national title for NLU.
Both teams combined for 1146 yards of total offense and each team gained 28 first downs.
Humphries was 26-43 for 436 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Stan Humphries was a 6th round draft pick of the Washington Redskins in 1988. He would go on to play nine seasons in the NFL. Humphries was a member of the Redskins team that won Super Bowl XXVI as a backup to starter Mark Rypien.
He was traded to the San Diego Chargers prior to the start of the 1992 season and played six seasons with the Chargers. While with the Chargers, Humphries passed for over 3000 yards in each of three seasons: 1992 (3,356 yards, 16 TDs), 1994 (3,209 yards, 17 TDs), and 1995 (3,381 yards, 17 TDs).
For his pro career, he passed for 17, 191 yards and 89 touchdowns, with 84 interceptions. In 2002, he was inducted into the San Diego Chargers Hall of Fame. And, he was also named to the Chargers 50th Anniversary team.
Humphries hosts a charity golf tournament every year that has raised over $1 million dollars for the Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego.
He is also a member of the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame, being inducted in 2007.
Coach of the Year
Pat Collins coached at NLU for 8 years and was the winningest coach in school history. He posted a record of 57-35.
He was selected National Coach of Year in 1987 by the Football News and CBS Sports and was named the LWSA’s Coach of the Year in 1983 and 1987.
The 1987 1-AA Champion NLU Indians. A team of destiny.
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