No. 24 Colonels roll to Senior Day 34-20 victory over McNeese
THIBODAUX, La. – The No. 24 Nicholls State University football team used an impressive first half to take control against rival McNeese and went on to double up the Cowboys in offensive yards, 519-236, cruising to a 34-20 victory on Senior Day Saturday evening on Manning Field in John L. Guidry Stadium.
With the win, Nicholls (7-4, 6-2 SLC) will head to Hammond Thursday with a chance to claim the Southland Conference championship for a second straight season. No. 23 Southeastern Louisiana won its fourth consecutive game, setting up the title matchup in the River Bell Classic. The winner will earn at least a share of the regular-season championship and the league’s automatic qualifier into the FCS playoffs.
Nicholls recognized its 22-member senior class before the McNeese game and the honorees shined in their Guidry finale. Quarterback Chase Fourcade threw for a career-high 374 yards and three first-half touchdowns, wide receiver Dion Ray recorded his third consecutive 100-yard game at home with 119 and a score on seven receptions, and tight end Jordan Talley added a touchdown catch in the second quarter.
Defensively, Sully Laiche led the way with four tackles for loss, two sacks, and a forced fumble. Classmate Khristian Mims added a sack and matched Laiche with seven tackles.
Nicholls led 27-7 at the break with a near-flawless 30 minutes of football. The Colonels racked up 280 yards of offense while the defense limited McNeese to 22 yards and a pair of first downs.
Following a 25-yard field goal by Gavin Lasseigne for the early 3-0 lead, Nicholls went up 10-0 on its next possession when Fourcade and Ray connected on a 55-yard touchdown. But with all of the momentum in the Colonels’ favor, the special teams allowed a kick return for a score for the second-straight week as Mason Pierce went 95 yards for the Cowboys’ lone touchdown of the half.
The Colonels had a chance to answer, but a pass on fourth-and-1 from the 7 to Dai’Jean Dixon was high and Nicholls turned the ball over on downs. However, the defense forced a three-and-out and it led to a four-play, 57-yard scoring drive capped on a 14-yard touchdown pass to Talley in the middle of the field.
Laiche helped end the next drive with a sack, and two plays later, Fourcade found Dai’Jean Dixon open for a 55-yard touchdown catch and a 24-7 advantage. Dixon, who missed the last five games with an injury, had a phenomenal return with a career-high 185 yards receiving on seven receptions.
Lasseigne added another field goal (26 yards) before the intermission.
In the third, McNeese had one of its best drives of the night ended on the Colonel 5-yard line. Facing a fourth-and-goal from the 12, Cody Orgeron’s pass to Cyron Sutton was stopped short of the goal line by seniors Khristian Mims and Laryon James. Both had solid performances for the defense as Mims finished with seven tackles and a sack, while James had eight stops and a fumble recovery.
For the rest of the third, McNeese was able to cut into the deficit on a 5-yard touchdown catch by Trevor Begue. Nicholls was held without a point in the period after Fourcade lost the ball on a fumble and had an interception on the next possession.
Leading 27-14 in the fourth, Nicholls expanded its lead after an 88-yard drive that chewed up 6:27 off the clock. Dixon had a 36-yard catch that put the Colonels across midfield, but freshman K.J. Franklin had the catch of the night when he pulled down a reception for 25 yards to the McNeese 2 on a fourth-and-nine conversion. Julien Gums (56 yards rushing) polished it off with his 15th rushing score of the year.
McNeese added a late touchdown but was unable to recover the onside kick.
Nicholls had a season-high five sacks in the win and limited McNeese to 52 yards on 34 carries. Elijah James and Brandon Fontenot had the other sacks for the Colonels. Also on defense, Darren Evans broke up three passes and Kevin Moore III matched James with a team-high eight tackles.
– The seniors improved their record at home to 18-4 and became the program’s all-time winningest class, surpassing the 28 victories by the 1988 class.
– Chase Fourcade surpassed 10,000 yards passing for his career, becoming just the fifth player in Southland history to reach the milestone.
– Laiche has 35.5 career sacks and is fourth all-time in the Southland, trailing Louisiana Tech’s Walter Johnson (38.0), and Sam Houston’s P.J. Hall (37.0) and Andre Finley (36.0).
– Dai’Jean Dixon moved up to fifth on the all-time receiving list with 1,908 yards for his career.
Tickets for Nicholls football are available by visiting geauxcolonels.com or calling the Nicholls Ticket Office at 985-448-4790.
Follow the Colonels all season long on Twitter (@Nicholls_FB) and Instagram (@Nicholls_FB).
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