Information provided by Nicholls State Athletics
ATHENS, Ga. – Nobody believed that the Nicholls State University football team belonged on the same field as the No. 9 Georgia Bulldogs, but after Saturday's game at Sanford Stadium, the Colonels made believers out of 92, 746 spectators, a nationally televised TV audience and most importantly, themselves.
Powered by a remarkable effort by the defense, the Colonels (0-1) led in the third quarter, 14-13, over the nationally-ranked SEC power Bulldogs. Even after falling behind 26-14 in the fourth, Nicholls fought back to score 10 unanswered points but came up just short, 26-24, of pulling off one of the biggest upsets in college football history.
Making the first start of his career, freshman Chase Fourcade dialed up two touchdown passes – his first to Jarrell Rogers for 20 yards which gave Nicholls a 14-13 lead in the third, and his last went to C.J. Bates for six yards to pull the Colonels within two with 3:42 to go in the game.
Needing just one stop, the Colonel defense forced two third downs in the final drive. But New Orleans product Michael Chigbu moved the chains with a 9-yard grab on the first and All-America running back Nick Chubb rushed for seven yards on a 3rd-and-3, which allowed Georgia to run out the clock and put the Colonels' mammoth upset bid to rest.
Led by 99 yards from Fourcade on 9-of-19 pasisng, Nicholls finished with 236 yards on offense, but it was the play of the defense that highlighted the day. After struggling in rush defense the past few seasons, the Colonels stifled reigning SEC Player of the Week Chubb to just 80 yards on 20 carries, including 17 yards in the opening half.
Chubb scored a 6-yard touchdown on the opening drive as Georgia marched down the field to take a 7-0 lead. The Colonels defense then forced a three-and-out and on the next drive, Georgia's 52-yard yard field goal was wide.
Early in the second, the Bulldogs put together their best drive of the day, starting from their own 5 and took the ball all the way to the Colonels' 5. But two big stops, including a 3rd-and-2 run which was stuffed by Marcel Andry and Hezekiah White, forced Georgia to tack on a field goal for a 10-0 lead.
Late in the second, the defense came through once again as Kenny Dotson forced a fumble on a reception and Ahmani Martin pounced on the ball at the UGA 30. Fourcade then scrambled for 18 yards on a 3rd-and-long and Dontrell Taylor scored the first touchdown of the season for the Red and Gray on a 4-yard run.
In the third quarter, a 55-yard punt return by Isaiah McKenzie set up another field goal for Georgia. On the return, punter Tyler St. Germain got just enough of McKenzie's leg to trip him up to prevent a would-be touchdown.
Fourcade got the offense rolling on the next possession, hitting Rogers for a 17-yard catch and Damion Jeanpiere for a 10-yarder to move the ball across midfield. Rogers then caught a 15-yard pass and capped the drive on a 20-yarder as he dove inside the pylon for a touchdown. David McKey added an extra point to give Nicholls a 14-13 lead with 6:48 to go in the third.
The lead was short lived however as Georgia struck twice with two big plays, one on offense and one of defense. A 66-yard pass from Jacob Eason to McKenzie put Georgia back on top, and a sack-fumble on Colonel quarterback Devin Powell led to a 24-yard return for a score by the Georgia defense.
Early in the fourth, the Colonel defense delivered once again as Jeff Hall intercepted a tipped pass inside the 10 and returned it 91 yards down to the 7. McKey then made it a 26-17 game with a 26-yard field goal with 7:50 to go.
Later in the quarter, the special teams got in on the action as Georgia muffed a punt, which was recovered by Darryl Adams at the UGA 9. On the second play, Fourcade floated a perfect pass to C.J. Bates in the corner of the end zone for a 6-yard touchdown. McKey's extra point put the deficit at 26-24, but Georgia picked up the two crucial first downs to seal the win.
B.T. Sanders headed the defense with eight tackles. As a unit, the team finished with seven tackles for loss and Dotson recorded the lone sack.
Offensively, Fourcade had two early interceptions and Powell completed two passes for 12 yards. C.J. Okpalodi rushed 21 times for 55 yards, and Taylor had 14 totes for 39 yards and a score. Rogers led the receivers with three receptions for 52 yards, all coming on the lead-taking drive.