Saturday night’s fireworks in Thibodaux weren’t reserved for the conclusion of the Nicholls State University football game against the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks.
The 16th-ranked Colonels generated a lot of fireworks on the field during the game, rolling up 536 yards of total offense in a 47-14 rout of Stephen F. Austin on Manning Field at John L. Guidry Stadium in Thibodaux.
With the win, Nicholls will have an opportunity to win at least a share of the Southland Conference title when it hosts the Southeastern Louisiana Lions at 6 p.m. Thursday.
Nicholls (7-3 overall, 6-2 in the SLC) wasted little time lighting up the scoreboard, marching down the field on the opening possession of the game.
Chase Fourcade connected with Dai’Jean Dixon on an 11-yard touchdown pass to give the Colonels a 7-0 less than two minutes into the game.
“The last couple of weeks were able to get off to quick starts,” Nicholls coach Tim Rebowe said. “Since coming off the bye week, we put a big emphasis on starting fast and putting some points on the board. When you do that, it puts us in the right mindset that we can move the ball.”
Fourcade and Dixon (five catches, 98 yards, two scores) hooked up again later in the quarter – this time from 38 yards out – for a 14-0 lead.
“We know the fast tempo can get the defense out of their game plan,” Dixon said. “We just practice it, and we were able to convert it into points.”
Stephen F. Austin (2-7, 2-6 in the SLC) started to get some offensive rhythm late in the first quarter and drove to the Colonels’ 37. But the Nicholls defense stepped up and took the ball back when Sully Laiche forced a fumble after sacking Jake Blumrick and jumping on the ball for the recovery.
“(Stephen F. Austin) thought they could be more physical than us, but we proved them wrong early,” Laiche said. “We practiced causing turnovers all week, and that is exactly what we did. We were moving people around in different situations, and that helped free me up.”
Nicholls continued to add to its lead in the second quarter, as Fourcade (13-of-19, 261 yards, four touchdowns) threw a 38-yard touchdown pass to Gabe Fuselier and Lorran Fonseca drilled a 22-yard field goal on the final play of the first half for a commanding 24-0 lead.
Fourcade said the Colonels’ offense was clicking on all cylinders, especially in the first half.
“The biggest thing was just coming out and making plays for this offense,” he said. “We were being efficient out there. We were gaining five and six yards a runs and hitting on the play-action passes. We were just going out and doing our jobs.”
After being limited to 101 yards in the first half, Stephen F. Austin got its offense on track to start the third quarter. The Lumberjacks marched down the field and capped off the drive with Blumrick’s 2-yard touchdown pass to Tamrick Pace’s cutting the Colonels’ lead to 24-7.
Nicholls quickly answered, marching 72 yards on six plays capping off the drive with Dontrell Taylor’s 2-yard touchdown run for a 31-7 lead. Taylor led the Colonels with 13 carries for 77 yards and a score.
The Lumberjacks were trying to answer on the ensuing possession when the Colonels defense came up with a big play. Evan Veron thwarted Stephen F. Austin’s momentum when he intercepted Blumrick on the sidelines.
“Honestly, I don’t know if he saw because he threw it right to me,” Veron said. “I just went to my drop and made a play.”
The Colonels capitalized on Veron’s interception and turned it into another touchdown. Twelve plays after the turnover, Julien Gums capped off the 76-yard drive by plowing into the end zone from 4 yards out to make the score 37-7.
After Stephen F. Austin made it 37-14 on Foster Sawyer’s 2-yard pass to Terian Goree, the Colonels closed out the game scoring two more times. Fourcade and Kendall Bussey hooked up on a 48-yard touchdown pass, and Fonseca closed out the scoring with a 26-yard field goal to make it a 47-14 game.
For the first time in school history, Nicholls is on a three-game winning streak over Stephen F. Austin … With four touchdowns, Fourcade broke Doug Hudson’s 32-year-old school record with 67 touchdowns responsible for in his career. He has 50 touchdown passes and 17 rushing scores … Fourcade also tied a career a career high with four touchdown passes. He set the mark two weeks earlier in a 48-21 win over Incarnate Word … Nicholls finished with nine tackles for loss and were led by Laiche (2.5) and Ronald Ollie (two) … Nicholls is outscoring opponents an average of 43.0 to 17.2 in its four home games … Nicholls inducted the 2018 Hall of Fame Class prior to Saturday’s game. The five-member class includes Terry Magee (football, 1972-75), Michael Mulligan (baseball, 1975-77), Jay Thomas (football coach, 2004-09), Alex L. Parra (men's soccer, 1981-84) and Anthony Tuggle (football, 1982-84).