No. 17 Colonels close home slate with last-second victory
After Houston Baptist University tied the game with 23 seconds remaining, sophomore Chase Fourcade floated a pass down the sideline to freshman Dai’Jean Dixon for a 44-yard touchdown as time expired, lifting the No. 17 Nicholls State University football team to a 23-17 victory Saturday at Manning Field at John L. Guidry Stadium.
Starting at midfield, the Colonels ran two plays to set up the game-winning pass. With 5.3 seconds on the clock, Fourcade scrambled out of the pocket and escaped one tackler before firing the ball downfield to Dixon, who juggled the ball at the 20-yard line before hauling it in and sprinting into the end zone for the walk-off victory.
The thrilling win put a stamp on the Colonels’ undefeated season at home with a 5-0 record, marking just the third time in program history a team went unbeaten at Guidry Stadium. The victory was also the fifth straight for the Red and Gray, improving its record to 7-2 overall and 6-1 in Southland Conference play.
Sophomore Dontrell Taylor racked up his second 100-yard game of the season, finishing with 103 yards on 24 carries. Taylor scored the first touchdown of the day for Nicholls, diving in on a 3-yard rush for a 15-14 lead to start the fourth quarter.
The next two points came courtesy of the defense, which tallied five sacks.
After Nicholls failed to get a two-point conversion on Taylor’s touchdown, Marcel Andry, one of 16 seniors playing in their final home game, sacked Houston Baptist’s Bailey Zappe in the end zone for a 17-14 lead.
Houston Baptist’s Alec Chadwick misfired on a 51-yard field goal that would have tied the game, but the Colonels could not extend the lead as Lorran Fonseca missed a 46-yarder with 1:19 remaining. Fonseca connected on three field goals earlier in the game for Nicholls, including a career-long 50-yarder.
Nicholls looked to have put the game away when Ahmani Martin recorded the defense’s second interception of the quarter, but linebacker Hezekiah White was flagged for roughing the passer and was ejected for targeting. Zappe left the game with an injury, but backup quarterback Jack Swensen scrambled for 16 yards, setting up a 50-yard field goal by Chadwick to tie the game.
The Colonels and Huskies were destined for a second-straight overtime matchup, as last year’s went into double OT.
However, Mason Roberts returned a squib kick 24 yards to midfield before Fourcade dumped a pass to Kyran Irvin for eight yards.
A timeout and an incompletion paved the way for the final play of the night.
It was the lone catch for Dixon, who was coming off his first career 100-yard effort last week at the University of Incarnate Word.
Fourcade finished 20 of 40 for 254 yards with an interception.
Damion Jeanpiere Jr. was his top target, recording 60 yards on six grabs.
Sully Laiche joined Andry with two sacks, and Devin Simoneaux added another. Andry tied White for the team lead in tackles with six. Evan Veron recorded the Colonels’ other interception late in the fourth quarter, and Aquindas Steib was credited with a forced fumble.
Houston Baptist held a 14-6 lead at the half, scoring on a 1-yard run by B.J. Kelly for a 7-3 advantage. The Huskies’ second touchdown came on a 9-yard catch by Ethan Fry, who had 111 yards receiving on seven receptions – all but one coming in the first half. Zappe finished 9 of 20 for 125 yards and added 80 yards rushing.
Central Catholic alum Stefano Guarisco caught a pass for 14 yards, while fellow Central Catholic alum Garret LeBlanc also saw playing time. This season, Guarisco has eight carries for 17 yards, four receptions for 37 yards and six kickoff returns for 105 yards.
Nicholls will continue its push for a Southland Conference championship and a playoff berth with the final two games on the road, starting Saturday at Stephen F. Austin. Kickoff is scheduled for 3 p.m.