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Colonels reclaim River Bell in 45-42 win at No. 15 Southeastern

Nicholls State players hoist the River Bell Trophy after defeating Southeastern.
Nicholls State players hoist the River Bell Trophy after defeating Southeastern.(Josh Auzenne/WAFB-TV (custom credit) | WAFB)
Published: Nov. 19, 2021 at 10:17 AM CST|Updated: Nov. 19, 2021 at 2:10 PM CST
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HAMMOND, La. (WVUE) - Behind a career night from freshman running back, Collin Guggenheim, the Nicholls State University football team won its third River Bell Classic out of the last four with a thrilling 45-42 victory against No. 15/12 Southeastern Thursday night at Strawberry Stadium.

Guggenheim rushed for 266 yards and three touchdowns on 29 carries for his fifth consecutive 100-yard game. His final touchdown gave Nicholls a 45-28 lead early in the fourth, capping a stretch of 24 consecutive points for the Colonels.

But Lion quarterback Cole Kelley answered with a pair of short touchdown runs and after Nicholls was forced to punt with less than a minute remaining, drove SLU (8-3, 6-2 SLC) within field goal range. With five seconds on the clock, Mateo Rengifo’s 44-yarder was wide left and the Colonels reclaimed the River Bell.

Kohen Granier saw most of the snaps at quarterback for Nicholls (6-5, 5-3 SLC), throwing for 182 yards and a touchdown while rushing for two TDs. Nicholls kept pace with the highly-touted Lion offense in the early going, scoring touchdowns on all three of Granier’s first-half drives. But the Lions went into the break with a 28-21 advantage.The Colonels received the ball to start the third quarter and tied it up on Granier’s first rushing touchdown.

K.J. Franklin had a clutch catch-and-run for 44 yards to help set up the scoring drive. Franklin finished with a career-high 116 yards on five receptions.

A five-yard tackle for loss by Perry Ganci on the next drive led to an SLU punt, and Nicholls then took the lead on a 43-yard field goal by Gavin Lasseigne.

Special teams came up with a turnover on the ensuing kickoff when Tyler Morton jarred the ball loose on the return, with Jacob Parkerrecovering on the Lion 17. Four plays later, Granier scored from a yard out for a 38-28 Colonel lead.

The defense then got in on the action with a stop on fourth down. Kelley rushed for a long third-down conversion but on a 4th-and-4 pass at midfield, Jarius Monroe stopped Austin Mitchell short of the marker. The turnover made way for another Guggenheim touchdown as he scored from 16 yards out on the first play of the fourth quarter.

Trailing 45-28, Kelley cut into the deficit with his second rushing TD of the night. Then after the teams traded punts, he made it a 45-42 game on a 1-yard touchdown run.

With 3:07 remaining, Nicholls picked up two first downs on Guggenheim runs and SLU burned the rest of their timeouts. But two false start penalties pushed the Colonels back and they would eventually have to punt with 39 seconds to go. SLU quickly moved to the Colonel 27 before a pass fell incomplete on third down, forcing the Lions to try for the 44-yard game-tying field goal.

On defense, Hayden Shaheen led the Colonels with eight tackles, while Monroe had six and added a breakup on third down. Ganci had 2.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks, and Juan Monjarres and Elinus Noel III each had a sack on Kelley.

Although the Colonels held SLU scoreless on six on its drive, Kelley still had a statistical outburst with 385 yards passing and six total touchdowns - three passing and three rushing. Kelley ran for one in the first half and threw all three of his TD passes before the break.

Granier’s only touchdown went to Franklin for 7 yards, which tied the game at 7-7. The other first-half TDs by the Colonels were on a 45-yard rush by Guggenheim, then Al’Dontre Davis had a 39-yard catch down to the 2 to set up another Guggenheim touchdown. Davis also had a career night with 93 yards on seven receptions.

NOTABLES- Guggenheim finished the season with 930 yards with most of hit coming in the last five games. His 103.3 yards per career is a new single-season program record. - Lindsey Scott Jr. threw for 70 yards and rushed for another 24. He finished 10 yards shy of rushing for 1,000 on the season, leading the team with 990 yards. - Nicholls was without two of its offensive stars, wide receiver Dai’Jean Dixon and center Evan Roussel. Despite missing the finale, Dixon finished the season with 1,002 yards receiving. He also fell two games short of Cooper Kupp’s FCS record of registering a catch in 52 consecutive games.- Two-time All-American guard P.J. Burkhalter made his 57th career start. - With the win over Southeastern, Nicholls and SLU are tied at 16-16 in the all-time series.

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