No. 19 Nicholls grounds No. 24 North Dakota in 24-6 FCS playoff victory
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.
With the win, Nicholls improved to 9-4 on the season and will take on top-ranked North Dakota State next weekend in the FCS playoffs. The Bison, which are 2-0 all-time against the Colonels, carry a 33-game winning streak into the matchup.
Sophomore Julien Gums headed the attack on offense, rushing for 172 yards on just 16 carries. Although he did not find the end zone for the first time in six games, Gums etched his name into the record books by setting a new single-season rushing mark with 1,155 yards. The New Orleans native surpassed Tuskani Figaro’s total of 1,103 set in 2013.
Gums was not the only Colonel to have success on the ground as Nicholls piled up 316 yards rushing – its second-highest mark of the season. Senior Dontrell Taylor fell just shy of reaching 100 yards with 95 and had the game-sealing touchdown late in the fourth quarter. Quarterback Chase Fourcade also scored a rushing touchdown in the second quarter following a strip-sack by Sully Laiche at the North Dakota 1-yard line. The turnover led to a 10-0 advantage for the Colonels.
UND did not find the end zone in the loss, scoring twice on Brady Leach field goals. His first was right before halftime and his second trimmed the deficit to 10-6 in the third.
But Nicholls quickly responded with its second touchdown of the night when Fourcade hit Dai’Jean Dixon for a 45-yard score. Dixon, who missed six games with an injury, finished with 122 yards on eight grabs for his fourth straight 100-yard outing.
In the fourth, the Colonel defense kept UND out of the end zone when Kevin Moore III was the beneficiary of a tipped ball as he intercepted a Nate Ketteringham pass at the 8. After Nicholls forced the Fighting Hawks to punt, the Red and Gray rushed seven times on their final scoring drive and Taylor capped it from 2 yards out to make the final.
UND rushed for just 44 yards on 14 carries in the loss, while Ketteringham was busy with 47 passing attempts. The senior tallied 269 yards in the air and had the lone interception.
Freshman Gavin Lasseigne had another solid outing in the kicking game, connecting on a 27-yard field goal to end the Colonels’ first drive before going 3-for-3 in extra points.
Fourcade completed 14 of 16 passes for 165 yards. He added 46 yards on the ground, which included his 12th rushing TD of the year.
The Colonels make the return trip to North Dakota to take on the three-time defending champion NDSU Bison. Kickoff in the Fargo Dome on Dec. 7 is scheduled for 2:30 p.m.
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