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November 22, 2017
Shortly after a tough loss to in-state rival Southeastern Louisiana University last Thursday, the Nicholls State University football team discovered they earned a bid to participate in the FCS playoffs with the chance of furthering their season with a story book ending.
Although the Colonels took an early 17-7 lead over Southeastern, the Lions relied on their strong rushing game to steal two touchdowns and ultimately capture both a 21-17 win and the River Bell trophy for the second consecutive year.
The loss left Nicholls with an 8-3 overall record and a 7-2 Southland Conference mark and eliminated them from being a Southland Conference regular season championship contender. The defeat also left the Colonels with and even slimmer chance of earning a spot in the post-season playoffs.
The Colonel offense totaled 323 yards with 94 passing yards from sophomore quarterback Chase Fourcade and 229 yards on the ground. While the Lions trailed with 290 total offensive yards, 267 yards contributed to their dangerous rushing attack, which crippled the Colonels later in the game.
Defensively, the Red and Grey put up a solid front and limited Southeastern to only 95 yards in the first half. On the night, the Colonels totaled 11 tackles with junior defensive back Ahmani Martin leading the charge with numerous big stops as well as a team-high nine tackles in the contest.
The Colonels were prevented from driving down the field in the fourth quarter after the Lions picked off Fourcade twice. This did not stop the team from fighting, however. After a loose ball was initially signaled to be recovered by the Colonels, the officials called it back and gave the Lions possession.
With only a minute and a half remaining, the second interception interrupted another Colonel drive, but they still tried to penetrate the Lion end zone with only 33 seconds left on the clock as the team found themselves at their own 25 yard line.
In a last-ditch effort to claim both victory and trophy similar to the year before, Fourcade launched a huge pass into the end zone, but was unsuccessful in connecting with a receiver as an SLU player got hold of the ball.
Despite the loss, the Nicholls community immediately took to social media to express their dedication and support of the Colonels who had pushed their way through one of the most hard-fought seasons the program has even seen.
Just as the Colonels kept a spark of hope alive throughout the game at Southeastern, they kept their hopes of earning a spot in the playoffs alive even after the loss.
Shortly after the game, Nicholls wide receivers coach, Sean Murphy as well as defensive line coach, Anthony Camp, shared positive and hopeful tweets about the team that were liked and shared numerous times on Twitter.
Murphy tweeted, “[We] didn’t get the result we wanted but the players never gave up! Proud of them!”
In no time, Twitter feeds were teeming with positive energy and the message that the Colonels and their fans had not given up hope on the possibility of a playoff berth.
When it was announced on ESPNU last Sunday morning that the Colonels were named as an FCS playoff team, then social media really exploded. Multiple social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook revealed that many of the team’s loyal fans had immediately re-arranged their Thanksgiving travel plans to make it back to Thibodaux when it was revealed that the Colonels would not only be playing, but would be hosting a playoff game for the first time in program history.
In response to the Colonels receiving their bid to the playoffs, senior Nicole Dupin who is a native of Houston, TX and a member of the Nicholls State University soccer team tweeted, “[I] changed my Thanksgiving plans because geaux Colonels! [I] can’t wait for Saturday!”
In a WWL-TV interview between sports photographer Adam Ney and head coach Tim Rebowe that was tweeted following the ESPN announcement, Rebowe said, “I know this: when that first kick-off happens, you’re going to see a team that is hungry, that is going to be fighting until the end, and that is going to keep punching and keep fighting all the way through. We’re going to put a good product on the field.”
The Football College Subdivision playoffs is a 24-team tournament with 10 automatic qualifiers, who are the winners of each respective conference. Another fourteen of the teams receive at large bids, one of which was received by the Colonels to not only participate in the tournament but to host the first round at John L. Guidry Stadium.
This will mark the fourth all-time playoff appearance for Colonels and the first time in program history that Nicholls has hosted a playoff game. Nicholls is one of three SLC teams to play in the tournament, joined by the league champion, Central Arkansas and the runner-up, Sam Houston State.
Nicholls finished its regular season campaign third in the Southland.
Manning Field at John L. Guidry Stadium will host a sea of Red and Grey faithful as well as Coyote fans all the way from South Dakota this Saturday, Nov. 25 at 3 p.m.
A member of the Missouri Valley Football Conference, the University of South Dakota finished their regular season 4-4 in league play and will be coming off a 3-game losing streak as they enter the post-season.
The Yotes are ranked No. 18 in the final FCS Coaches Poll of the regular season and the Colonels sit at No. 22. Nicholls will be South Dakota’s seventh top-25 foe of the season, and they are currently 3-3 against top-25 opponents so far.
This will mark the first time the USD Coyotes have been selected to play in the FCS playoffs and it will be the first post-season appearance for the team since 2006. The program made the transition from playing at the NCAA Division II level to Division I in the 2011-12 academic year.
After an impressive 6-0 start to their season, the Coyotes climbed as high as No. four on the Top-25 Poll. Of the eight first-round matchups that will take place this weekend, five involve two top-25 teams going head-to-head, including the Colonel vs. Coyote matchup.
Other first-round matchups include:
FCS PLAYOFF SCHEDULE First-round games November 25 at Stony Brook, New York, 2 p.m. (ET) (ESPN3)Lehigh (5-6) at Stony Brook (9-2) November 25 at Ogden, Utah, 4 p.m. (ET) (ESPN3)Western Ill. (8-3) at Weber St. (9-2) November 25 at Cedar Falls, Iowa, 5 p.m. (ET) (ESPN3)Monmouth (9-2) at UNI (7-4) November 25 at Durham, New Hampshire, 2 p.m. (ET) (ESPN3)Central Conn. St. (8-3) at New Hampshire (7-4) November 25 at Kennesaw, Georgia, 2 p.m. (ET) (ESPN3)Samford (8-3) at Kennesaw St. (10-1) November 25 at Thibodaux, Louisiana, 4 p.m. (ET) (ESPN3)South Dakota (7-4) at Nicholls (8-3)November 25 at Elon, North Carolina, 1 p.m. (ET) (ESPN3)Furman (7-4) at Elon (8-3) November 25 at Flagstaff, Arizona, 8 p.m. (ET) (ESPN3)San Diego (9-2) at Northern Ariz. (7-4)