By Kemmler Chapple
Special to College Sports Journal
Editor’s note: This story is courtesy of www.LionSports.net
HAMMOND, LA. — Nicholls State senior kicker Francisco Condado knocked in the game-winning 40-yard field goal as time expired as the Colonels earned the River Bell for the first time in five years with a 27-24 victory over Southeastern Louisiana in the 2015 season finale for both teams Thursday night in Strawberry Stadium.
The Lions (4-7, 3-6 Southland) had a 17-3 lead at halftime, but Nicholls (3-8, 3-6 Southland) scored on its first three drives of the second half to take a 24-17 lead on a two-yard touchdown run by senior running back Michael Henry on the first play of the fourth quarter.
The Colonels would maintain that lead until Southeastern’s final drive. Junior quarterback D’Shaie Landor took over with the Lion offense at its own 44-yard line with no timeouts and 2:23 left in the game.
The Lafayette native went 6-for-9 on the final drive, allowing SLU to march 56 yards on 10 plays in 1:24. Junior wide receiver Brandon Acker hauled in a quick slant from four yards out to cap the drive and tie the score at 24-24 with 59 seconds remaining.
But Nicholls senior quarterback Landry Klann and the Colonels weren’t to be denied. Klann found junior wide receiver C.J. Bates on passes of 23 and 15 yards to move NSU down to the SLU 23-yard line with three seconds left.
Condado’s game-winner split the uprights to give Nicholls its first win over the Lions since 2010.
It was a disappointing way to send out the 28 members of the Southeastern senior class, which played a large part in the Lions winning Southland Conference championships in 2013 and 2014.
Some of the greatest players in school history – running back Xavier Roberson, defensive back Harlan Miller, wide receiver Jeff Smiley, among others – all saw their collegiate careers end on Thursday night.
Landor finished 19-for-38 for 186 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. Acker was the recipient of both touchdown throws, finishing with a team-high seven catches for 88 yards. Freshman running back Julius Maracalin finished with a season-high 121 yards on 21 carries to lead SLU.
Klann was 6-for-15 for 88 yards and a touchdown, as Nicholls did most of its damage on the ground. Senior running backs Tobias Lofton (17 carries, 147 yards, 1 TD) and Henry (22-81-1 TD) led the Colonels rushing attack.
On the defensive side, SLU was led by senior linebacker Herbert Harris, who finished with a career-high 16 tackles and three tackles for loss.
Senior defensive back Micah Eugene added 13 stops, while Miller recorded his team-high fourth interception of the season. The Kentwood, Louisiana native finished his time in the green and gold fourth on the school’s career list with 11 interceptions.
Southeastern dominated the opening half. The Lions took the lead with a five-play, 52-yard drive on its second possession of the game. Running as the Lions’ wildcat quarterback, Eugene capped the drive by scampering in from 17 yards out to give SLU a 7-0 lead with 9:31 left in the opening quarter.
Both defenses stiffened over the next few minutes until SLU added to its lead with a 12-play, 49-yard drive that was capped by a 35-yard field goal by freshman Jonathan Tatum to take a 10-0 lead with 14:01 left in the opening half.
Nicholls did not have a first down on its first three drives and Miller ended its fourth drive with an interception.
However, the Colonels answered Tatum’s field goal with three points of their own, as Condado capped a 10-play, 47-yard drive with a 45-yard field goal.
Southeastern answered quickly with its second five-play, 52-yard scoring drive of the opening half. Acker caught a quick slant from Landor, broke a tackle and raced in from 28 yards out to give the Lions a 17-3 lead with 1:01 left in the half.
After forcing a Nicholls three-and-out, the Lions had a chance to add to their lead going into the break. However, senior Byron Johnson was unable to hold on to a pass in the end zone from Landor. Tatum’s 44-yard field goal attempt then fell short.
Nicholls came out on fire in the second half, as Lofton broke loose for a 62-yard touchdown run to cut the lead to 17-10 with 13:14 left in the third quarter.
After forcing a SLU three-and-out, the Colonels marched 61 yards on eight plays to tie the game at 17 with 9:06 left in the third quarter. Henry’s score early in the fourth quarter was the finish of a 10-play, 91-yard march that marked three straight touchdown drives for NSU.
Southeastern will be back in action when spring practice opens in early March. The 2016 season opens on Sept. 3, 2016 at Oklahoma State.
NSU – 0 3 14 10 – 27 (2-9, 3-6 SLC)
SLU – 7 10 0 7 – 24 (4-7, 3-6 SLC)
SLU – Eugene 17 run (Tatum kick), 9:31
SLU – Tatum 35 FG, 14:01
NSU – Condado 45 FG, 2:44
SLU – Acker 28 pass from Landor (Tatum kick) 1:01
NSU – Lofton 62 run (Condado kick), 13:14
NSU – Klann 6 run (Condado kick), 9:06
NSU – Henry 2 run (Condado kick), 14:51
SLU – Acker 4 pass from Landor (Tatum kick), 0:59
NSU – Condado 40 FG, 0:00
FIRST DOWNS 21 17
RUSHES-YARDS (NET) 55-273 37-178
PASSING YDS (NET) 88 186
Passes Att-Comp-Int 15-6-1 38-19-1
TOTAL OFFENSE PLAYS-YARDS. 70-361 75-364
Fumble Returns-Yards 0-0 0-0
Kickoff Returns-Yards 2-38 5-107
Punt Returns-Yards 0-0 0-0
Interception Returns-Yards 1-29 1-9
Punts (Number-Avg) 6-36.0 6-45.0
Fumbles-Lost 0-0 1-0
Penalties-Yards 5-50 10-85
Possession Time. 29:47 30:13
Third-Down Conversions 6-of-14 5-of-17
Fourth-Down Conversions 0-of-0 3-of-4
Red Zone Scores-Chances 2-2 3-3
RUSHING: NSU – Lofton 17-147, Henry 22-81, Klann 16-45. Totals 55-273. SLU – Maracalin 21-121, Eugene 8-35, Landor 6-16, Bethea 1-8, French 1-(-2). Totals 37-178.
PASSING: NSU – Klann 6-15-1-88-0. Totals 6-15-1-88-0. SLU – Landor 19-38-1-186-2. Totals 19-38-1-186-2.
RECEIVING: NSU – Bates 2-38, Singleton 1-15, Watson 1-14, LeBouef 1-13, Henderson 1-8. Totals 6-88. SLU – Acker 7-88, Bethea 2-21, Ramirez 2-20, Smith 2-18, French 2-8, Kepley 1-14, Maracalin 1-12, Johnson 1-6, J. Bennett 1-(-1). Totals 19-186.
A – 5,491.