Colonels dominate second half in 31-14 win over North Alabama

Published 10:19 am Monday, September 27, 2021

The Nicholls State University football team trailed 14-0 before halftime against North Alabama but responded in a big way, scoring 31 unanswered to take down the Lions, 31-14, on Saturday evening on Manning Field at John L. Guidry Stadium.

Playing for the first time at home this season, Nicholls (1-2) took control of the game by scoring two touchdowns in the third quarter while holding North Alabama (0-4) to only 14 total yards in the period. Leading 17-14 in the fourth, the defense put points on the board when Elinus Noel III had a strip/fumble and Kevin Johnson returned it 53 yards for a touchdown. Nicholls added a late touchdown pass from Lindsey Scott Jr. to Dai’Jean Dixon to make the final.

Johnson was one of six Colonels to record a sack as the unit tallied seven, which was the team’s most since racking up the same amount in a win over HBU in 2018. Perry Ganci led the way with two sacks, three tackles for loss, and seven total stops. Zack Bernard added 1.5 sacks while Tyreke Boyd paced the defense with eight tackles.

After setting a school record with 480 yards in the near-upset of Louisiana, Scott pieced together a similar showing, accounting for three total touchdowns with 172 yards passing and his second straight 100-yard rushing effort (142). Dixon was his top target, bringing in six receptions for 88 yards and a touchdown.

While Scott played a role in three of the four touchdowns, running back Julien Gums did not find the end zone but rushed for a season-high 139 yards on 19 carries. It marked the 10th career 100-yard game for Gums, who now stands alone in the record book. He and former teammate Dontrell Taylor were tied for first with nine.

Things started bleak for the Red and Gray as it failed to manufacture any points despite running a combined 30 offensive plays in their first three drives. A Scott interception stalled the opening possession before a missed field goal and an unsuccessful fourth-down conversion on the next two.

North Alabama was able to find the endzone on its first drive and then again in the second quarter with five minutes remaining. Both touchdowns were tossed by Blake Dever, who had 158 yards on 12 of 19 passing.

After misfiring on a 26-yarder in the first quarter, Gavin Lasseigne connected from the same distance before halftime to cut the deficit to 14-3.

Following the break, Nicholls allowed a first down on the opening play but not much else in the third. The Colonels trimmed the lead down to 14-10 after Scott and K.J. Franklin hooked up for a 19-yard score. The duo has connected for a touchdown in all three games this season.

A targeting call helped UNA into Colonel territory and then the offense elected to go for a fourth-and-five. Johnson gave Nicholls back the ball play after blitzing up the middle for a 10-yard sack. That momentum carried over onto the offense as Scott led a quick five-play touchdown drive, capping it with a dive into the endzone for a 10-yard TD run.

With Nicholls leading 17-14 with less than nine minutes remaining, Noel made the victory-clinching sack to knock the ball loose for the scoop-and-score. UNA tried to make it a one-possession game but also missed a short field goal attempt.

The final scoring drive for the Red and Gray was fueled by a 22-yard catch by Lee Negrotto. Two plays later, Dixon hauled in an acrobatic catch for his 30th career touchdown reception.

Defensively, James Tobin IV had a strong showing with four pass breakups. Jequaries Martin chipped in with a sack and Juan Monjarres added a half sack.

UP NEXT

Nicholls continues its three-game home schedule with its conference opener against HBU. Kickoff is scheduled for 3 p.m.