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 due to conduct detrimental to the team, NSU head coach Bradley Dale Peveto said Friday.
Harris did not return to the Demons' season opening game Thursday night after the second series of the contest. His conduct on the sideline led Peveto to bench him for the remainder of the half. Further behavior issues during halftime prompted Peveto to direct Harris to put on his street clothes and leave NSU's locker room and sideline. Harris watched the rest of the game with his parents in the stands, cheering for the Demons.
Junior college transfer Brad Henderson, who was already slated to play every third series unless Harris and the Demons' offense were particularly effective, took over as the first-team quarterback. In his first Division I action, Henderson completed a school record 13 consecutive passes while sparking Northwestern back from a 17-0 halftime deficit to a 24-23 win over Delta State at NSU's Turpin Stadium.
Peveto informed the team of the disciplinary action early Friday afternoon, and said neither he or 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 passing for 210 yards including a 32-yard touchdown to senior tight end Justin Aldredge. Henderson added a net of 11 yards rushing, gaining 37 but losing 26 on four sacks.
The comeback victory was the second-largest winning rally by the Demons in their Division I history, dating back to 1977. NSU won its 2005 season opener at Louisiana-Monroe 27-23, overcoming a 23-0 halftime deficit.
Henderson (5-11, 210) was an honorable mention junior college All-America quarterback last year at East Mississippi Community College, throwing for 2,763 yards and 26 touchdowns while completing 59.8 percent of his 388 pass attempts, averaging 276 yards passing per game. He is a Starkville, Miss., native who played for Starkville High School.
Redshirt freshman Don Canyon (6-2, 240, Dallas-Lincoln) will move into the backup role at quarterback for NSU, with true freshman Grant Chiasson (6-0, 190, Thibodaux-E.D. White) as the third-team quarterback, said offensive coordinator Todd Cooley.
Harris threw for 29 yards on 4 of 6 aim in his participation on nine plays on NSU's first two possessions Thursday night as the Demons netted 17 yards, punting twice.
Harris, a Baton Rouge-Tara product, 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 this summer. He has started 14 games, nine last season when his 1,821 passing yards were the seventh best season total in school history.
Ironically, Henderson broke a consecutive completions record Harris set last November when he hit 11 straight passes in a win at Southeastern Louisiana.
The Demons did not practice Friday and are not returning to workouts until Monday afternoon. They visit LSU next Saturday night at 7 in Tiger Stadium.