No. 19 Colonels to face top-seed North Dakota State in second round

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No. 19/19 Nicholls Colonels (9-4) at No. 1/1 North Dakota State (12-0)
Fargo, North Dakota (Fargodome)
Saturday, Dec. 7 at 2:34 p.m. CT
Nicholls Game Notes (PDF) | North Dakota State Game Notes (PDF)
TV: ESPN3 (Link)
Audio: KLEB Tunein | KLEB 102.7 FM/1600 AM | 105.9 FM KBZE
Live Stats: Link
Tickets: Order online or call 985-448-4790

FIRST FIVE
• The No. 19 Nicholls State University football team will be making its second consecutive appearance in the second round of the FCS playoffs as the Colonels head to Fargo to take on No.1 North Dakota State. The top-seeded Bison had a bye last weekend, while the Colonels knocked off North Dakota in the opening round to advance in the postseason. The contest against the Bison is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. central and will air on ESPN3.

• Nicholls continued to be one of the hottest teams in the FCS by winning its fifth straight game, taking down No. 24 North Dakota, 24-6, in the opening round of the FCS playoffs. The Colonels went to the ground game against the Fighting Hawks, piling up 316 yards rushing while the defense limited UND to just a pair of field goals. Sophomore Julien Gums needed just 16 carries to rack up 172 yards, and Chase Fourcade and Dontrell Taylor each found the end zone on the ground. Fourcade was 14-of-16 passing and had a 45-yard touchdown pass to Dai’Jean Dixon. Of the 16 teams remaining, the five-game streak is the fourth longest behind North Dakota St. (33), JMU (11), and Monmouth (9).

• North Dakota State has been the premier program of the FCS over the last decade and this season hasn’t been any different. Winners of seven of the last eight national championships including the last two, the Bison have won 33 consecutive games dating back to 2017. NDSU went 4-0 against teams that made the playoffs this year, with its closest game coming in a 23-16 win over No. 7 seed South Dakota State.

• Nicholls and North Dakota State will be meeting for the third time, and first since 2005. The teams played a home-and-home in consecutive years, 2004 and ’05, with the Bison winning both matchups. In 2004, NDSU came to Thibodaux and picked up a 25-14 victory and the following year after Hurricane Katrina, Nicholls came up short against the No. 11th-ranked Bison, 26-13, in Fargo before going on to win the Southland championship.

• The Colonels re-wrote the record books once again by winning back-to-back playoff games for the first time in school history. Before head coach Tim Rebowe’s arrival, Nicholls had just three playoff appearances and one victory. The Colonels matched the appearances in the last three years alone, and gave the program postseason wins No. 2 and 3. The team’s first playoff appearance was a win at Appalachian State in 1986, but were eliminated in the next round by Georgia Southern. The next two appearances were at Montana in 1996, when Rebowe was an assistant, and then a loss to Furman in 2005 following the team’s first Southland title. Under Rebowe, Nicholls claimed an at-large berth in ’17 and lost a heartbreaker to South Dakota after fumbling at the goal line in the final minute. The Colonels won their second playoff game last year, 49-30, over San Diego and went on to fall to national runner up Eastern Washington in the second round.

BY THE NUMBERS

36.5 – Senior defensive lineman Sully Laiche continues to climb the Southland all-time sacks list and currently sits at third with 36.5 sacks. Laiche missed the first two games and has since started in 10, recording at least a sack in all but two. Laiche is the FCS active leader and also ranks second in the nation in TFLs per game and is eighth in sacks per game.

110 – The 2019 roster consists of 116 players, and 110 are Louisiana natives. When Tim Rebowe was hired after the 2014 season, he wanted to put an emphasis on recruiting locally. Not only are the student-athletes from the Pelican State, but the majority are from a 50-mile radius which includes New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and the River Parishes. The Colonels have had the most Louisianans in Division I football by a wide margin over the past few seasons.

159.3 – Junior wideout Dai’Jean Dixon has been on a tear over his last four games, averaging an astonishing 159.3 yards receiving in 14 quarters of play. Dixon had 140 yards in the first half against UCA before suffering an injury, and since his return, has had at least 100 yards in all three games. Dixon has totaled 637 yards receiving on 29 receptions (22.0 ypc) with five touchdowns.

210 – With his rushing touchdown in the second quarter, senior quarterback Chase Fourcade upped his career scoring total to 210 points, which ties two others for the program record. All of Fourcade’s points are the result of 35 rushing touchdowns – which is also a program record.

1,155 – Sophomore running back Julien Gums became just the fourth Colonel to rush for over 1,000 yards in a single season and set a new program record with 1,155 yards and counting. A native of New Orleans, Gums surpassed Tuskani Figaro’s mark of 1,103 that was set in 2013. With his fifth 100-yard game of the year, Gums also tied teammate Dontrell Taylor for the most in a single-season, which Taylor accomplished in 2018.

SCOUTING THE BISON
• North Dakota State is coming off another undefeated regular season which pushed its winning streak to 33 games. The Bison have won back-to-back national titles and seven of the last eight.

• The Bison rank first in the nation in scoring defense, second in total defense and total offense, and fourth in scoring offense. The most points they’ve allowed this season was 22 in a win at Delaware.

• NDSU is led on offense by Walter Payton Award finalist Trey Lance. A redshirt freshman quarterback, Lance ranks No. 1 in the FCS in efficiency at 187.5 with 23 touchdown passes and no interceptions. Along with over 2,100 yards passing, he has rushed for 741 yards and 10 scores.

• NDSU had 11 players earn all-league honors, eight on first team, and two garner superlatives awards. Lance earned offensive MVP while Derrek Tuszka was named defensive POY.

• North Dakota State has won 25 consecutive games in the Fargodome. The streak started in 2017 and is the longest of any Division I program.

• The Bison are led by first-year head coach Matt Entz. A long-time assistant, Entz was the defensive coordinator for NDSU the previous five seasons.

A WIN OVER NORTH DAKOTA STATE WOULD…
… advance Nicholls to the quarterfinals for the first time since the field was expanded to 24 teams.
… give the Colonels 10 wins, tying the single-season record of the 1986 team.
… extend the Colonels’ winning streak to six games.
… be the first win over a No. 1 team. Last matchup was in 2016 in a 38-21 loss to Sam Houston.
… give the Colonels a 4-0 record vs. the Top 25 this season – (34-14 vs. No. 10 UCA; 28-27 vs. No. 21 Southeastern; 24-6 vs. No. 24 North Dakota).
… secure head coach Tim Rebowe’s first win over a top 5 opponent. The Colonels are 0-3 under Rebowe (Sam Houston in ’16 and ’17; Eastern Washington in ’18).
… be the 32nd victory of the 2019 Senior Class. They became the winningest in team history with the victory over McNeese, surpassing the 28 wins by 1988 Class.
… give the Southland Conference its 48th playoff victory by a team currently in the league. Teams have a combined 46-52 record (.469).

LAST OUTING
Nov. 30, 2019
No. 19 Nicholls 24, No. 24 North Dakota 6

THIBODAUX, La. – Behind a dominating performance in the ground game, on both sides of the ball, the No. 19 Nicholls State University football team advanced to the second round of the FCS playoffs with a 24-6 victory over No. 24 North Dakota Saturday evening on Manning Field at John L. Guidry Stadium. (RECAP)

TO BE THE BEST…
The matchup with the No. 1 Bison will be the second top-ranked opponent for the Colonels under head coach Tim Rebowe, and fourth top 5 game. Nicholls is 0-3 in playing the premier programs, including two losses against Sam Houston State. The Colonels hosted the No. 1 Bearkats in 2016 and were handed a 38-21 loss. The next season, Nicholls had a tough going in Huntsville with a 66-17 loss to the third-ranked Kats. The last meeting was in the 2018 finale as the Colonels lost to No. 3 Eastern Washington on the road in the FCS playoffs, 42-21. Although the Colonels ended up losing by three scores to the Eagles, Nicholls led 14-3 heading into the break before a field goal was blocked and returned for a touchdown. They trailed 20-14 heading into the fourth before EWU scored the next three touchdowns to pull away.

LAICHE FINALIST FOR BUCK BUCHANAN AWARD
Senior defensive lineman Sully Laiche was recognized as one of the top players in the FCS, being named a finalist for the Buck Buchanan Award. Laiche was on the Preseason Watch List for the honor, which is given to the nation’s best defensive player, and made the final 26 last week. Laiche has been nearly unblockable in his four years at Nicholls, racking up an astounding 36.5 sacks and 61 tackles for loss. But heading into his final campaign, he missed fall camp with a back injury and sat out the first two games before making his debut in Week 4 at Stephen F. Austin. After playing limited snaps at SFA, the Gramercy native has totaled 11 sacks in his 10 starts.

BEAT VALLEY
Nicholls has played 13 games against teams that are current members of the Missouri Valley Football Conference, with the last being a 38-31 home loss to South Dakota in the 2017 FCS playoffs. The Red and Gray have had a little success against what most say is the toughest conference in the FCS, posting a 3-10 overall record. Nicholls has wins over Illinois State (1-2), Southern Illinois (1-1) and Youngstown State (1-0). The rest of the losses have come against North Dakota State (0-2), Western Illinois (0-2), and one each against South Dakota State and Northern Iowa.

TICKETS
Tickets to the game in Fargo can be purchase online by clicking here.

STAYING SOCIAL
Follow the Colonels all season long on Twitter (@Nicholls_FB) and Instagram (@Nicholls_FB).

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