After a three hour and 19-minute weather delay, the Sam Houston State Bearkats fell victim to the Nicholls Colonels 27-7 on the road in Thibodaux, La.
This loss snapped an 11-game win streak for SHSU against the Colonels and also marked the first time the Bearkats were held to single-digit points by a Southland Conference foe since October 24, 2009 when they lost to Stephen F. Austin 42-3.
NSU senior Joel Dullary returned the opening kickoff 37 yards to give the Colonels great field position at their own 46 yard line, but a fourth down and nine play was disrupted by Tristin McCollum to turn the ball over to the Kats. SHSU’s first drive stalled when junior quarterback Mike Dare was sacked deep in his own territory.
Colonels junior quarterback Chase Fourcade propelled the next drive by finding sophomore receiver Dai’Jean Dixon for a 31-yard completion to get into SHSU territory. That eventually set up a field goal as NSU struck first to take a 3-0 lead with 6:17 left in the first quarter.
Dare got in a groove on the ensuing possession, going 70 yards on 10 plays before connecting with senior receiver Davion Davis for a 19-yard touchdown to give the Kats a 7-3 lead with 1:41 remaining in the opening quarter.
“That safety was hesitant to go over Davion,” Dare said. “I got my one-on-one matchup and put a little air under it because [Davis] can jump.”
With 12:17 left in the second quarter, senior Derick Roberson made a huge play on special teams, blocking a 42-yard field goal attempt by NSU. SHSU was faced with a pivotal third down and 10 after a sack by senior lineman and former Last Chance U star Ronald Ollie. After a time out by head coach K.C. Keeler, Dare connected with Davis for a 19-yard completion to move the chains. The drive ended with a missed 44-yard field goal attempt by senior kicker Tre Honshtein.
Fourcade and the Colonels faced fourth down and one on the next drive and converted a quarterback sneak to keep it alive. Back-to-back completions to senior receiver Damion Jeanpierre Jr. for 21 yards and 12 yards, respectively, capped off the touchdown drive to put NSU on top 10-7 with 3:20 left in the first half.
“[Fourcade] is really good,” Keeler said. “He plays with momentum. He’s poised, patient, a three-year starter. I though early on we did a great job containing him, but they hit us on a couple big plays.”
The Bearkats forced a punt with 40 seconds left on the clock, but junior kicker Winston Jones booted it 47 yards deep into SHSU territory, forcing the Kats to take a knee down 10-7 heading into halftime.
Dare and Davis were in sync in the first half, connecting five times for 72 yards and a touchdown. As a team, SHSU compiled 139 yards as Dare went 13-for-16. The Kats ground game never really got going as they picked up only 24 yards on 15 carries.
The second half did not start the way the Bearkats were hoping as Dare threw an interception on the first play from scrimmage, giving NSU the ball at the SHSU 36 yard line. Both teams exchanged three-and-outs before senior kicker Lorran Fonseca drilled a 22-yard field goal to extend the Colonels’ lead to 13-7.
Freshman quarterback Eric Schmid entered the game for the Kats on the next drive and immediately unleashed a 14-yard quarterback keeper. The drive stalled, however, as SHSU was unable to pick up an additional first down.
The Colonels drive looked promising until SHSU’s redshirt freshman defensive end Brailyn Franklin forced a fumble that he recovered on the Kats own 11 yard line.
Dare re-entered the game and completed three consecutive passes along with a 17-yard run by sophomore back Kyran Jackson to move the ball near midfield. A nine-yard rush by Dare moved the Kats into NSU territory, and a 24-yard completion to senior receiver Nathan Stewart set up a first down and goal. NSU senior defensive back Ahmani Martin came up clutch with an interception at the one yard line to regain possession for the Colonels.
SHSU senior defensive lineman Spencer Williams was ejected for targeting early in the fourth quarter after a hit on Fourcade in the backfield. The Colonels were eventually forced to punt for the second time, pinning the Kats inside their own ten yard line.
With just over 10 minutes left in the game, Dare gave way to Schmid at quarterback after an injury. The Kats were forced to punt for the fourth time after Ollie picked up his second sack of the night on second down. NSU capitalized on the opportunity when junior running back Dontrell Taylor punched it in on the ground from six yards out to put Nicholls up by two scores 20-7 with 4:04 on the game clock.
Despite redshirt freshman Ty Brock entering the game, NSU’s defense continued to swarm, forcing a turnover on downs on the SHSU one yard line. It took just one play for junior running back Kendall Bussey to tack on another touchdown as the Colonels led 27-7 and put the nail in the coffin with 2:55 left to play.
Up next, SHSU returns home to Bowers Stadium to take on the University of Central Arkansas Bears Saturday at 3 p.m. The game will be televised live on ESPN3.