No. 17 Nicholls closes home slate with thrilling win over HBU
THIBODAUX, La. – After HBU tied the game with 23 seconds remaining, sophomore Chase Fourcade floated a pass down the sideline to freshman Dai’Jean Dixon for a 44-yard touchdown as time expired, lifting the No. 17 Nicholls State University football team to a 23-17 victory Saturday at Manning Field at John L. Guidry Stadium.
Starting at midfield, the Colonels ran two plays to set up the game-winning pass. With 5.3 seconds on the clock, Fourcade scrambled out of the pocket and escaped one tackler before firing the ball downfield to Dixon, who juggled the ball at the 20 before hauling it in and sprinting into the end zone for the walk-off victory.
“I am so proud of this team. I told them in the locker room that good teams find a way to win, and that’s exactly what we did,” said Nicholls head coach Tim Rebowe. “The defense played lights out in the second half and held them (HBU) to a field goal right there at the end of the game. We overcame so many things in the game, from penalties to touchdowns called back, to turnovers. I mean stuff we have to fix and clean up, but I thought our guys fought and stayed in there. The way they came back and won it at the end, I am just very, very proud of them.”
The thrilling win put a stamp on the Colonels’ undefeated season at home with a 5-0 record, marking just the third time in program history a team went unbeaten at Guidry Stadium. The victory was also the fifth straight for the Red and Gray, improving their record to 7-2 overall and 6-1 in the Southland.
Sophomore Dontrell Taylor racked up his second 100-yard game of the season, finishing with 103 yards on 24 carries. Taylor scored the first touchdown of the day for Nicholls, diving in on a 3-yard rush for a 15-14 lead to start the fourth quarter.
The next two points came courtesy of the defense, which tallied five sacks in the win. After Nicholls failed to get a two-point conversion on Taylor’s touchdown, Marcel Andry, one of 16 seniors playing in their final home game, sacked HBU’s Bailey Zappe in the end zone for a 17-14 lead.
HBU’s Alec Chadwick misfired on a 51-yard field goal that would have tied the game, but the Colonels could not extend the lead as Lorran Fonseca missed a 46-yarder with 1:19 to go. Fonseca connected on three field goals earlier in the game for Nicholls, including a career-long 50-yarder.
Nicholls looked to have put the game away when Ahmani Martin recorded the defense’s second interception of the quarter, but linebacker Hezekiah White was flagged for roughing the passer and was ejected for targeting. Zappe left the game with an injury, but backup quarterback Jack Swensen scrambled for 16 yards, setting up a 50-yard field goal by Chadwick to tie the game.
The Colonels and Huskies were destined for a second-straight overtime matchup, as last year’s went into double OT, before Mason Roberts returned a squib kick 24 yards to midfield. Fourcade dumped a pass to Kyran Irvin for eight yards, called a timeout, and an incompletion paved the way for the final play of the night.
It was the lone catch for Dixon, who was coming off his first career 100-yard effort last week at UIW. Fourcade finished 20 of 40 for 254 yards and an interception. Damion Jeanpiere, Jr. was his top target, recording 60 yards on six grabs.
Sully Laiche joined Andry with two sacks, and Devin Simoneaux added another. Andry tied White for the team lead in tackles with six. Evan Veron recorded the Colonels’ other interception late in the fourth quarter and Aquindas Steib was credited with a forced fumble.
HBU held a 14-6 lead at the half, scoring on a 1-yard run by B.J. Kelly for a 7-3 advantage. The Huskies’ second touchdown came on a 9-yard catch by Ethan Fry, who had 111 yards receiving on seven receptions – all but one coming in the first half. Zappe finished 9 of 20 for 125 yards and added 80 yards rushing.
Nicholls will continue its push for a Southland Conference championship and a playoff berth with the final two games on the road, starting Saturday, Nov. 11 at Stephen F. Austin. Kickoff is scheduled for 3 p.m.
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