Colonels, Lions vault into second round of FCS playoffs
See you next Saturday🏈😎
— FCS Football (@NCAA_FCS) December 1, 2019
Two different games, two different type of games and two different results led to the same key outcome. Football fans in south Louisiana were thrilled.
Nicholls and Southeastern Louisiana, who played an epic contest just over a week ago, each advanced to the second round of the FCS playoffs Saturday with big wins at home.
At Thibodaux, the Colonels dominated the line-of-scrimmage and finally pulled away late to defeat North Dakota 24-6.
Nicholls gashed North Dakota for 306 yards rushing and 481 yards total.
De La Salle’s Julien Gums was brilliant with 16 carries for 172 yards while Rummel’s Chase Fourcade shined in his final home game, completing 14-of-16 passes for 165 yards and a 45-yard touchdown pass to Karr’s Dai’Jean Dixon in the third quarter. Dontrell Taylor added 17 rushes for 95 yards and the final touchdown of the game in the fourth quarter.
The Colonels (9-4) have now won five straight games. They held the Fighting Hawks (7-5) to just 44 yards rushing.
Nicholls advances to face a tall task, traveling to face No. 1 seed and defending national champion North Dakota State next Saturday at 2:30 p.m.
The long-range forecast for Fargo next Saturday includes partly cloudy skies and a high of 34 degrees. That is actually a relief to what it could be, based on this time of the year.
Of course, the Bison play indoors at Fargodome so the conditions will be ideal.
North Dakota State (12-0) has simply dominated the FCS ranks, winning seven of the last eight national championships, including a 38-24 victory over Eastern Washington in the title game last season. Eastern Washington eliminated Nicholls 42-21 at home on its red turf in the second round.
North Dakota State has won 15 national championships, along with three others that were unofficial. It is easily the best program on the FCS level. The Bison have won 33 straight games, dating back to 2017. The last loss was at South Dakota State (33-21) on Nov. 4, 2017.
The experience of playing in the FCS playoffs for a third straight year has clearly benefited the Colonels. The experience of playing far away from home a year ago will certainly help this time around as well.
In Hammond, Southeastern Louisiana staged a furious comeback to overcome Villanova 45-44 in a wild, exhilarating contest at Strawberry Stadium.
Chason Virgil hit CJ Turner with an 8-yard touchdown pass with 1:45 to play and fittingly, Bryce Broussard delivered the deciding extra point to provide the margin of victory. It was a missed extra point by Broussard which enabled Nicholls to overcome Southeastern 28-27 in the final game of the regular season. Memories are short and that is good and good for Broussard!
Villanova (9-4) controlled play for the longest time, jumping out to a 31-14 lead at halftime, but SLU scored 17 unanswered points in the third quarter and the game was tied 31-31 heading to the fourth quarter.
The Wildcats took the lead twice in the final frame, only to see the Lions answer both times.
Talk about the breaks evening out!
It was a missed extra point, along with a costly fumble that handed Southeastern the loss to Nicholls. It was a missed extra point after Villanova’s final score which opened the door for the Lions to win this time around.
Turner of East St. John had 11 catches for 173 yards and the game-winning score while Javon Conner of Landry-Walker had nine catches for 103 yards and a score. Branson Schwebel finished with six catches for 119 yards.
Virgil passed for 475 yards and two touchdowns while Cole Kelley added a pair of touchdown runs as Southeastern blistered the Wildcat defense for 509 yards passing and 603 total yards. Villanova amassed 501 total yards.
Southeastern (8-4) heads north to play at No. 6 Montana (9-3) next Saturday at 3 p.m. at Missoula at Washington-Grizzly Stadium.
The Grizzlies lost their final game of the regular season 48-14 to rival Montana State in the 119th Brawl of the Wild.
While Nicholls will play indoors, Southeastern Louisiana will play outdoors. The long range forecast for Missoula for next Saturday is possible rain and snow showers and a high of 39 degrees with a 40 percent chance of precipitation.
Weather notwithstanding, Nicholls and Southeastern both weathered storms over the last two weeks and the result is that both are still standing among the final 16 teams in the country. Whether or not they are victorious, the weather forecast for both programs moving forward is for bright, sunny skies.
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Born and raised in the New Orleans area, CCSE CEO Ken Trahan has been a sports media fixture in the community for nearly four decades. Ken started NewOrleans.com/Sports with Bill Hammack and Don Jones in 2008. In 2011, the site became SportsNOLA.com. On August 1, 2017, Ken helped launch CrescentCitySports.com. Having accumulated national awards/recognition (National Sports Media Association, National Football…