THIBODAUX — The Nicholls State University football team put together one of its best offensive showings, guided by sophomore quarterback Landry Klann, but Central Arkansas outscored Nicholls 21-6 in the second half and came up with a late game-winning goal line stand to secure a 37-31 victory at John L. Guidry Stadium.
“It was a very difficult loss, but I saw a lot of positives,” Nicholls coach Charlie Stubbs said in a university release. “We fought back and had some tremendous plays on special forces, on offense and on defense. We had a lot of inexperienced guys out there today, but I thought they executed our game plan very well.”
With Nicholls (1-5, 0-2 Southland Conference) trailing by six with 4:31 remaining in the game, the Colonels forced a three-and-out. But Central Arkansas (3-3, 2-1 SLC) elected to go for a fourth-and-1 at its own 33.
Nathan Dick, who finished with 306 yards and three touchdowns passing for UCA, was stuffed on a sneak by linebacker Jordan Piper, giving the ball back to Nicholls.
On fourth-and-goal at the 7 on the ensuing possession and with 1:43 on the clock, Klann — playing in his first game this season — found tight end Nick Scelfo open on the right side. Scelfo made a diving reach for the end zone, but a pair of UCA defenders knocked him out of bounds at the 1 to deny the game-tying touchdown.
Klann threw for a career-high 237 yards on 19-of-26 with one touchdown and rushed for 35 yards. He scored on a 1-yard sneak in the second quarter.
Running back Marcus Washington led the ground attack, accumulating a career-best 101 yards on 15 carries with two touchdowns.
Washington got the scoring started in the first quarter on a 1-yard score following a forced fumble by Siegan Verganal that gave the Colonels the ball at the 16.
UCA made it 7-3 on a field goal at the 7:04 mark.
In the second quarter, the teams exploded for 30 combined points as Nicholls led 24-16 at the break.
After Klann scored to cap off a 10-play, 77-yard drive, UCA answered with a rushing TD from Dick.
The teams traded touchdowns again as Washington scored for Nicholls on a 15-yard run, while Anthony Blackmon outran the Colonel defense on a 49-yard toss to make it 21-16 Nicholls.
Bobby Felder, who finished with 11 tackles, blocked the PAT. Andrew Dolan added a 39-yard field goal for Nicholls to make it 24-16 at the half.
In the third quarter, UCA evened the game at 24, recovering a fumble in the end zone.
Nicholls’ Kenyad Blair gave the Colonels the lead, scoring on a 47-yard pass from Klann with 4:34 on the clock.
Blair led the receivers with a career-high 80 yards on four receptions.
Just before the end of the third, UCA took a gamble of fourth down at the Nicholls 20 by going for it, and Dezmin Lewis caught a jump ball in the corner of the end zone to make it 31-all.
In the fourth, the Bears grabbed their first lead of the game on a 9-play, 76-yard drive on Dick’s third touchdown pass.
The Colonel special teams came through again with a blocked PAT, keeping the score at 36-31.
Later in the fourth, Felder outleaped Croom in the end zone for his third interception of the season to stop a UCA scoring threat.
Scelfo had 45 yards receiving for the Colonels.
Piper led all defenders with 12 tackles. Vergenal added eight tackles and a forced fumble and Ryan Bruno had seven tackles.
Nicholls returns to action at 2 p.m. Saturday at Sam Houston State.