The weather was chilly inside John L. Guidry Stadium on Saturday in Thibodaux.
The Nicholls offense, however, was red hot.
Putting away several weeks of inconsistent play with the football in their hands, the Colonels broke loose for one of their best performances of the season in a 48-27 Southland Conference win over Houston Baptist.
The passing game was crisp with quarterback Chase Fourcade completing 17 of his 23 attempts for 294 and two touchdowns. The running game was crushing as Julien Gums continued his record-setting hot streak with three scores and 104 yards while Fourcade chipped in another two touchdowns and 71 yards.
But most importantly, Nichols added another notch in the win column on Saturday, improving its resume for either an at-large bid into the FCS Playoffs or an outright Southland Conference Championship and the automatic qualifier that goes with it.
"A good team win," coach Tim Rebowe said. "A lot of corrections, a lot of stuff we have to do, but we did what we had to do (to win). I hate to sound like the broken record, but we'll get back to morrow and get ready for the next one."
It took a while for Nicholls (6-4 overall, 5-2 in the SLC) to establish its lead. Houston Baptist trailed by only a touchdown by as late as six minutes to play in the third quarter.
But that’s when Fourcade took over, throwing for one touchdown and rushing for two more. His second and final rushing score of the day was also the 34th of his career, setting the school record.
However, Fourcade also lost one of his records when Gums punched in his 14th score of the season, surpassing his quarterback’s single-season mark set in 2018. Gums found the end zone seven times over the past three games.
The final score may not have even been as close as it was had it not been for an unfortunate mistake late in the game when, punting it out of his own end zone early in the fourth quarter, Nicholls punter Winston Jones launched a ball into the backside of his own blower. HBU recovered at the 2-yard line and scored on the next play.
"Just positive plays," Fourcade said. "Trying not to turn the ball over. Getting positive plays on first down. If that has to be by my legs then do it. But I think receivers did a great job getting open. We did a great job of executing the whole second half."
Former Central Lafourche receiver David Robinson reeled in his first touchdown of his collegiate career when he made a spectacular catch in the back of the end zone on a 38-yard bomb from Fourcade.
It was a total Trojans affair when former Central Lafourche kicker Gavin Lasseigne sent in the extra point.
SACK MASTER SULLY
All-American Sully Laiche moved to No. 4 all time among Southland players with sack No. 33.5 during his four-year career.
Laiche needs just five more to become the conference’s all-time leader. He provided Nicholls with two sacks on Saturday.
"Coach did a good job of getting me off the field when I was tired and getting some rest," Laiche said. "I'm definitely pursuing that goal, but taking it one game at a time."
Freshman DB Jordan Jackson continues to show himself to be a major player in the future of the Nicholls secondary as he reeled in his first career interception.
His nab put Nicholls inside the red zone, which they were quickly able to take advantage of for a touchdown a few plays later.
NO FLY ZONE
The Nicholls defense stepped up against one of the top passing offenses in the country and kept them well below their season averages.
The Huskie brought to Thibodaux the No. 2 pass offense in the FCS at 345.4 yard per game through the air. They left Thibodaux only racking up 246 yards and one touchdown, though.
Quarterback Bailey Zappe completed 26 of his 41 passes and threw an interception.
Wide receiver Dion Ray continues to make his presence known in the passing game as he totaled his second 100-yard game in the past three outings.
Ray exploded in the first half with catches of 20, 36 and 51 yards before the end of the first quarter. He finished the day with seven receptions for 145 yards. Two weeks ago he caught six balls for 128 yards against Abilene Christian.
BETTER THAN .500
With Saturday's win Nicholls secures its third straight year of being .500 or better, the first time the Colonels have done so since 1986-88.