SAN ANTONIO, Texas – After a hot start which saw the Nicholls State University football team grab a 21-7 advantage against No. 18 UIW, the Colonels were unable to get anything going in the second half as the Cardinals scored 31 unanswered to defeat Nicholls, 38-21, Saturday afternoon at Benson Stadium.
With the loss, the Colonels fell to 2-4 overall (2-2 vs. FCS) and 1-2 in the Southland Conference. The setback also snapped a five-game winning streak in the series against UIW (5-1, 3-0 SLC).
The teams were nearly even in total yards with UIW having a slight 469-445 advantage, but the Colonel offense totaled four turnovers in defeat. Nicholls had the ball for more than 35 minutes as UIW used big plays to fuel its offense, scoring on 51- and 49-yard touchdown passes and had a 67-yard pass set up another TD.
Receiver Dai’Jean Dixon turned in his 13th career 100-yard game, finishing with 120 yards on nine receptions and scored on a 25-yard pass that gave Nicholls a 14-0 lead early in the second quarter. The Colonels scored on their opening possession on a 6-yard run by Lindsey Scott Jr.
Following Dixon’s TD catch, Cameron Ward needed only three plays to answer for UIW, tossing a 51-yard touchdown pass to Taylor Grimes. Nicholls had trouble slowing down the duo all game as Grimes racked up 182 yards receiving and a school record four catches.
Nicholls chewed up most of the clock in the second quarter, going back up 21-7 after a 16-play drive that lasted 8:33. The Colonels picked up a fourth-and-short inside the 10 to keep it alive before Collin Guggenheim plowed through the defense from a yard out for his first touchdown run of the season.
Once again, Ward connected with Trevor Begue for a 67-yard strike and capped the short drive with a 10-yard pass to Grimes.
With 3:26 until halftime, Nicholls drove the length of the field and ended up facing a fourth-and-goal from the 1 with 13 seconds remaining. The Colonels ran a trick play but came up empty as K.J. Franklin received the ball on a reverse and his pass was intercepted in the end zone.
In the third, the defenses took over as each team punted twice to start the second half. The Colonels used a sack from Ty’Ree Evans to push UIW back to midfield before Grimes got behind the defense once again, scoring on a 49-yard strike from Ward to even the score. Evans led Nicholls with eight tackles.
Kohen Granier subbed in at quarterback for the Colonels and led them to the UIW 33. But on his first pass of the fourth, it was intercepted by Rashon Davis for the second turnover of the game.
UIW then took the lead for the first time on a 10-play, 71-yard drive. They faced only one third down on the possession and Grimes capped it on a 2-yard touchdown catch.
The Colonels went three-and-out on their next drive and the Cardinals followed with a 40-yard field goal for a 31-21 lead midway through the fourth. Nicholls then turned it over on third down on Scott’s lone interception of the game.
Nicholls forced a punt but another turnover ended the next drive as Scott was sacked and lost the football. With only 2:20 to go, UIW ran the ball and ended up scoring on a 26-yard run by Kevin Brown to make the final.
Scott saw his 100-yard rushing game streak end at four with 90 yards and completed 19 of 29 passes for 214 yards. Marquese Albert had 17 carries for 70 yards and despite a second straight week without running back Julien Gums, the team managed to rush for over 200 yards. Guggenheim chipped in with 42 yards on 10 carries.
Ward finished 25 of 36 for 388 yards and had the four TD passes to Grimes. He was sacked twice, including once by Jordan Jackson.
Nicholls heads back to Texas for a rematch against HBU on Saturday, Oct. 23. The Colonels defeated the Huskies in their league opener, 48-17. Kickoff in Houston is scheduled for 6 p.m.