Nicholls' Dontrell Taylor scores the final touchdown of Saturday's 24-6 victory against North Dakota in the first round of the FCS Playoffs. Nicholls will travel this Saturday to take on top-ranked North Dakota State. (Submitted Photo/Jared Shanklin, Nicholls Athletics)
Nicholls defeats North Dakota, 24-6
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 Football Championship Subdivision 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 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.
On Saturday, Nicholls sophomore Julien Gums led the offensive attack, rushing for 172 yards on just 16 carries. Although he did not score 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.
North Dakota 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 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 North Dakota 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-yard line.
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 two yards out to make the final.
North Dakota rushed for just 44 yards on 14 carries, while Ketteringham was busy with 47 passing attempts. The senior tallied 269 yards in the air and had the lone interception.
Moore, Darren Evans, and Jarius Monroe all totaled seven tackles, and Evans had a career-high five pass breakups. Laiche ended up with three tackles, two for loss, and a forced fumble on his sack.
Freshman Gavin Lasseigne connected 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 rushing, which included his 12th rushing touchdown of the year.
Central Catholic High alum and Nicholls senior Garret LeBlanc received playing time and served as a team captain for Saturday’s game.
The Colonels make the return trip to North Dakota to take on the three-time defending champion North Dakota State Bison. Kickoff in the Fargo Dome Saturday is scheduled for 2:30 p.m.
Additional reporting by The Houma Courier.