Texas A&M survives against Nicholls, 24-14

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COLLEGE STATION, Texas – The Nicholls State University football team rallied back from an early 14-0 deficit against Texas A&M to even the score in the fourth quarter, but the Aggies did just enough to put the game away as the Colonels fell, 24-14, Saturday night in front of 100,276 fans at Kyle Field.

The Aggies (1-1) used two first-quarter touchdowns to grab the early advantage before the Colonel defense, led by 16 tackles from Allen Pittman, shut down Texas A&M for forty minutes. Lorran Fonseca connected on a pair of field goals in the second quarter for Nicholls to make it 14-6 at the break. In the fourth, Chase Fourcade dumped a pass in the flat to tight end Stephen LeBouef for a 5-yard touchdown to make it a two-point game with 12 minutes to go.

Nicholls elected to go for two and Fourcade floated a pass to the back of the end zone, connecting with a leaping Mason Roberts, tying the game at 14-all.

But on the ensuing possession, Texas A&M went 75 yards on 11 plays to regain the lead. After forcing a three-and-out, the Aggies added a field goal with 18 seconds remaining to make the final, denying Nicholls of an upset of an SEC program for the second straight year.

“I’m very proud of our players. I thought we had tremendous effort and fought all the way to the end,” said head coach Tim Rebowe, who led Nicholls to a hard-fought two-point loss at SEC member Georgia last season. “We gave them a run at the end, but we have to be able to get off the field on third down.”

Fourcade paced the offense with 264 yards passing on 13 of 25. His main target was wide receiver Damion Jeanpiere Jr., who caught deep ball after deep ball to eclipse his career high from last week with 174 yards on five receptions. Jeanpiere started the season with a three-catch, 145-yard performance in the win over McNeese.

Kyran Irvin led the rushing attack with 62 yards on 16 carries. Irvin was the feature back after starter Dontrell Taylor left the game with an injury after just three carries. His only blemish on the night was a fumble inside the TAMU 30 in the third quarter.

The Aggies scored on the opening drive when Christian Kirk hauled in a 27-yard pass from Kellen Mond. Texas A&M then closed out the quarter with a 17-yard touchdown run by Trayveon Williams.

It was all Colonels in the second as they got their first points just two minutes in on a 37-yarder by Fonseca. The drive was kept alive on a clutch catch by Roberts for 12 yards on a fourth-down try. After the teams traded punts, Nicholls ended the half with a 15-play drive, scoring on a 34-yard Fonseca field goal.

After Texas A&M missed a field goal to start the fourth, Jeanpiere caught a 54-yard bomb from Fourcade to fuel the game-tying drive. Two plays later, LeBouef slipped out to the right side and plowed his way into the end zone. On the conversion, Fourcade scrambled to his right before tossing a pass to Roberts, who leaped and came down in the back of the end zone to tie the game. The play was upheld after review.

The Aggies’ game-winning drive was led by Kendall Bussey, who sprinted free for a 41-yard gain. He then capped the drive with a 2-yard touchdown as Texas A&M held on for the home-opening victory.

The Colonel defense totaled four sacks on the night, getting one each from Darryl Adams Jr., Terrell Encalade and Kenny Dotson. Evan Veron, who had nine stops, and Sully Laiche combined for the final sack.

On offense, Jarrell Rogers chipped in with four receptions for 46 yards.

“I just think this team is special,” Rebowe said. “I told them before the game that I wanted to walk in that locker room – win, lose or draw – and have no regrets that we laid it all on the field. We definitely did that. We’re 1-1 and have a big game next week. We have to prepare for it coming back home. We have to pick ourselves up, bounce back and be ready to go.”

The next game will be Family Day on Sept. 16 against Prairie View A&M. Kickoff at John L. Guidry Stadium is slated for 6 p.m. For tickets, call 985-448-4790 or visit nichollstickets.com.

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