Nicholls dominates Central Arkansas 34-14 in SLC contest
Playing for the first time at home this season, the No. 15/16 Nicholls State University football team defeated No. 10/11 Central Arkansas, 34-14, Saturday evening on Manning Field at John L. Guidry Stadium.
With the win, Nicholls (3-2, 2-0 SLC) snapped an eight-game losing streak in the series against Central Arkansas (3-2, 1-1 SLC) in the first meeting between the two schools since 2016. The victory also gave the Colonels their 12th win in their last 13 games at Guidry Stadium.
It was a record day for senior quarterback Chase Fourcade, who picked apart the Bear defense for 327 yards and a touchdown on 24 of 29 passing. Already the program leader in total offense, Fourcade, who added 48 yards rushing and another score, eclipsed the 10,000-yard mark to become just the seventh player in Southland Conference history to reach the milestone.
Julien Gums rushed for 51 yards and tacked on to his team lead in rushing touchdowns with two scores. After Fourcade scored the game’s first touchdown, Gums scored twice in the second quarter from 8 and 36 yards out for a 20-0 lead at the break.
The Colonel defense limited UCA to 98 yards in the first half and had two key turnovers in the opening 30 minutes.
After Fourcade fumbled at the goal line on a 98-yard drive, Nicholls got the ball back three plays later on a forced fumble by Khristian Mims.
After Gums’ seventh rushing touchdown gave Nicholls a 20-0 advantage, Darren Evans ended UCA’s best drive in the half with an interception at the 1-yard line.
Although he did not account for any points in the first half, Dai’Jean Dixon hauled in a career-high 140 yards receiving on five receptions before the intermission for Nicholls. The junior from New Orleans surpassed the 100-catch mark for his career and moved two yards shy of sixth place on the program’s all-time receiving list with 1,723 yards.
UCA scored on the opening drive of the third quarter on a Lujuan Winningham 4-yard touchdown grab from Breylin Smith to make it 20-7. But the Colonel defense held the dynamic duo in check for the most part, limiting Winningham to only two receptions for 21 yards. He entered the game averaging 132.5 yards receiving, and Smith ended his day over 100 yards shy of his passing average.
Midway through the third, Fourcade found an open Darrion Cook for a 30-yard catch, and on the next play, he hit tight end Jordan Talley on a screen. With blockers ahead of him, Talley went 26 yards into the end zone for his third career touchdown and a 27-7 lead.
UCA gambled on its next possession, going for a fourth-and-1 at midfield. Smith completed a pass in the flat to Sam Carmargo, who was immediately met by Mims and tackled for a loss of two yards. Mims led the Colonels with nine tackles and added two for loss.
With the short field, the Colonels chewed 4:30 off the clock on nine plays and ended the drive with an 8-yard touchdown run by Kendall Bussey, stretching the lead to 34-7.
Later in the fourth, UCA went for it again deep in Colonel territory before Brandon Fontenot stopped the drive with a sack.
But the Bears scored on their final possession on a 44-yard pass from Smith to Kylan Robinson with six seconds remaining.
With the 2018 seniors on hand to receive their championship rings, the defense looked like last year’s edition with nine tackles for loss and four sacks against UCA. Sully Laiche had a sack for the second-straight game and totaled three tackles for loss, while Allen Pittman had two stops behind the line, including one sack. Laryon James also had a sack for the Red and Gray.
Central Catholic alums Stefano Guarisco and Garret LeBlanc each played in Saturday’s contest. Guarisco started at wide receiver and had one rush for minus-1 yards.
The Colonels will take on rival Northwestern State in Thibodaux Saturday, with the N-S-U Trophy up for grabs. Kickoff at John L. Guidry Stadium is scheduled for 3 p.m. The game will be televised on Cox Sports TV and will be available on ESPN+ outside of CST’s territory.