Nicholls defeats Sam Houston for the 1st time in 13 years
Following a three hour and 19 minute lightning delay, the No. 18 Nicholls State University football team picked up a 27-7 victory against No. 11 Sam Houston State Saturday night in the Colonels’ home opener at Manning Field at John L. Guidry Stadium.
Nicholls (2-2, 1-1 SLC) trailed 7-3 after the first quarter but went on to shut down the Bearkats (1-2, 0-1 SLC) the rest of the way.
Offensively, the Colonels grinded it out with their rushing attack, totaling 248 yards on 54 carries.
Sam Houston, which had won the last 11 meetings against Nicholls dating back to 2005, couldn’t get its ground game going, rushing for 53 yards on 30 totes.
Nicholls quarterback Chase Fourcade completed 15 of 23 passes for 197 and a touchdown. His touchdown toss came in the second quarter to Damion Jeanpiere Jr., who moved into fifth place in all-time receiving yards. The high school teammates connected on a 12-yard slant right before halftime that put Nicholls ahead 10-7.
In the second half, Lorran Fonseca added a field goal for a 13-7 advantage.
Before the end of the quarter, the Bearkats pieced together a 10-play drive that went for 86 yards, but Ahmani Martin made the play of the game with a timely interception. Through three games, Nicholls had not recorded a pick before Darren Evans secured one earlier in the quarter.
Then on 2nd-and-goal from the 3, Bearkat quarterback Mike Dare threw a pass on an out route near the goal line, and Martin dove in front of the receiver and snagged the pick at the 1.
Fourcade then led Nicholls on a touchdown drive, helped by his 24-yard scamper down the sideline. The drive ended on a Dontrell Taylor 6-yard touchdown run for a 20-7 advantage. Taylor (68 yards rushing), Kyran Irvin (73 yards) and Kendall Bussey (46 yards) each had at least 13 carries. Fourcade added 60 yards on the ground to give Nicholls a 4.6 average in the win.
The game’s final touchdown was by Bussey on a 2-yard rush. It was set up via a fourth-down try from Sam Houston at their own 2.
Evan Veron, who matched his career best with two sacks, earned his second to force a 4th-and-16 from the Bearkat 2.
With only 2:55 remaining in the contest, the Kats threw a ball down the middle with hopes of extending the possession, but Martin broke it up to force the turnover-on-downs. Bussey scored his first touchdown in Thibodaux on the next play, making the final 27-7.
Veron and Kenny Dotson led the Colonels with two sacks each. Laryon James finished with a career-high 11 tackles, while Ronald Ollie added two tackles for loss with a sack.
Dai’Jean Dixon led the receivers with 62 yards on three catches, and Arron McKenney caught his first three career passes, going for 51 yards. McKenney had a highlight catch for 22 yards in the third quarter, but the drive stalled inside the 10 after a fumble by Bussey at the Bearkat 11 — one of the few Colonel mistakes.
The specialists had one, too, with a blocked field goal, but Fonseca was good from 35 and 22 yards.
Joel Dullary set the night’s tone with a 37-yard kick return to start the game.
Winston Jones only punted twice, but both were downed inside the 10.
Dare finished 18 of 24 for 214 yards and had a touchdown pass to Davion Davis. Nathan Stewart led all players with 113 yards on eight receptions.
Nicholls junior Stefano Guarisco and redshirt junior Garret LeBlanc, both Central Catholic alums, each played in the contest.
Nicholls will play at home again Sept. 29 for Family Day. Kickoff against Lamar is scheduled for 2:30 p.m., and the game will air on Eleven Sports.