Nicholls rallies for 40-35 win over McNeese
THIBODAUX – What began as a slow-moving contest turned into a shoot-out Saturday at Nicholls’ Guidry Stadium as the Colonels rallied to beat McNeese 40-35 in Southland Conference action.
The loss dropped the Cowboys to 1-6 overall and 0-3 in league play while Nicholls improved to 2-6 and 2-1 in the conference.
McNeese’s Deonta McMahon scored a career-high four touchdowns in the game, including three in the third quarter where the Cowboys scored 22 points to take a 22-14 halftime lead. He accumulated 249 all-purpose yards (115 rushing, 77 receiving and 57 kick return).
Quarterback Knox Kadum completed 14 of 28 passes for 180 yards and two touchdowns but had two crucial third quarter interceptions, one that was returned 30 yards for a touchdown that pulled the Colonels to within 29-28 with 10:42 to play in the third quarter.
Defensively, the Cowboys won the turnover battle with two interceptions and a fumble recovery while also sacking the quarterback twice. But an 89-yard catch and run score from Nicholls’ quarterback Kohen Granier to Terry Matthews gave Nicholls a 34-29 lead at the 6;52 mark of the third quarter.
Granier completed 19 of 37 passes for 339 yards, two TDs and two interceptions.
McNeese regained the lead early in the fourth quarter when McMahon scored his third rushing TD of the game on a 9-yard run through the left side as the Cowboys led 35-34 following the failed 2-point conversion try.
The Colonels responded on their next possession with a touchdown run by Julien Gums of four years, completing a 7-play, 56-yard drive that stayed on the ground the entire time. Nicholls led 40-35 after a failed 2-point rush attempt.
McNeese got the ball back and was driving with less than four minutes to play. Facing a 3rd-and-19 at the Nicholls 44, the Cowboys would be called for a delay of game but a Nicholls defensive lineman didn’t stop play and hit Kadum from behind, drawing a personal foul and giving McNeese a first down at the 34. Kadum appeared to injure his shoulder and came out of the game while backup Ryan Roberts replaced him.
The Cowboys had a 4th-and-1 at the 25 but was unable to get the one yard needed to extend the drive. The Colonels were able to run out the clock after converting on two third downs to get the win.
Nicholls led 14-0 before McNeese scored 29 straight points in the second and third quarters.
The Cowboys got on the board on a 20-yard McMahon run which was followed by a Kyle Klink 2-point conversion rush to make it a 14-8 game.
McNeese went ahead 15-14 five minutes later on a 3-yard McMahon run then a 28-yard reception by McMahon from Kadum gave McNeese a 22-14 lead with 1:50 to play in the first half.
After going three-and-out to start the second half, Nicholls muffed the ensuing punt and the Cowboys recovered at the Nicholls 29. A couple plays later Kadum placed a perfectly thrown ball to Jalen Johnson for a 25-yard score and a 29-14 lead early in the third quarter.
Nicholls would respond by scoring 20 straight points to retake the lead as the teams traded scores until the Colonels were able to hold off the Cowboys.
• McNeese’s 22 second quarter points are the most scored by the Cowboys in a single quarter this season.
• The Cowboys 29-straight points scored are the most scored on the year.
• RB Deonta McMahon’s four touchdowns scored are the most in a game in his career.
• McMahon’s 3 rushing is a career-high. It’s the first time since 2014 (Dylan Long vs. Northwestern State) that a Cowboy player rushed for 3 TDs in a game.
• With 115 rushing yards, McMahon has clipped 100 four times this season and 7 in his career.
• McMahon has 16 career rushing TDs, needing four more to break into the Top 15 in school history.
• QB Knox Kadum had his first 2-TD passing game of his career.
• TE Kyle Klink caught a career-high 4 passes.
• OL Calvin Barkat started his 23rd consecutive game (all at McNeese) while OL Cole LeClair started his 21st straight game (7 at McNeese, 14 at Valdosta State).
• LB Kordell Williams recorded 9 tackles in the game, increasing his career total to 293 and moving him into 15th on the school’s all-time list.
• Nicholls scored on its opening drive and became the fifth team this season to score the opening points.
• Nicholls has won three of the last four meetings.
• McNeese leads the all-time series 31-16.
• Next up, the Cowboys will host Southeastern for Homecoming on Oct. 29. SLU won at Jacksonville State 31-14 on Saturday.
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