The first score came via a 7-play, 43-yard running series set up by Nicholls' special team play. Additional defensive adjustments at halftime got the Dukes back in the game. They came up short, losing 14-7.
The normally reliable Kevin Rombach was 7-of-19 for 63 yards with an interception and a fumble coming during one of his seven sacks. He lost the ball two other times but DU maintained possession.
Junior linebacker Willie Milhouse had two interceptions that helped keep the Dukes in the game. Listed as the long snapper on special teams, the Walforf, Md. native also ran 42 yards to DU's 45 on the kickoff after Nicholls' second score. McCoy's next two rushes put the ball on the host's 24. The drive stopped when Dixon fumbled. Rombach returned for the next series.
Milhouse also recorded three tackles, two solo. Junior Tyler Scruggs had a team-best six tackles, all solo. Junior transfer Devin Duggan recovered A.J. Williams' fumble for the Dukes' third turnover. NSU also had three TOs.
- Note: The team numbers are lower than normal. NSU ran just 48 plays.
Williams, who is one of this week's Northeast Conference (NEC) offensive players of the week, suffered a back injury in the first half. Likely he would have stayed on the sideline, but the team needed him and he delivered.
Akeem Moore was not so fortunate. He was injured on the third play of the game and taken to a local hospital with internal injuries.
All of the players who were injured during last week's 24-19 win over Bucknell, except for starting tight end Brian Layhue, were able to play today. And starter senior running back Cleo Williams saw his first action of the season.
The official rushing numbers for the game are Nichols State 208, Duquesne 188. In college ball, sacks are not counted in the passing yardage -- they're deducted from the rushing total. Duquesne had one sack, NSU nine. Taking out that negative yardage, DU's (-58) run yardage was 246, Nicholls State (-4) 212.
Duquesne easily won the passing battle, nine completions for 153 yards, deducting sacks yields a net of 98. Nicholls State gained 10 yards on one pass; the net would be six.
The Dukes also won the total yardage comparison (341/218), total plays (80/48), first downs (22/8) including those from penalties (5/2), and time of possession (34:08/25.52). Not so on special teams.
Both of the Nicholls State touchdowns were the result of special teams play, one on each side of the line.
The snap for freshman Charlie Leventry's first punt was high. NSU's defense ran a bit harder. Leventry rushed the kick which went just four yards past the line of scrimmage. That set the Colonels at DU's 43. Trey Hopson's three-yard score came on the seventh play of the series.
The second came after Duquesne's defense held NSU on the series following Williams' score. Nicholls, set in punt formation, didn't send the ball to kicker Patrick Dolan. Instead it was snapped it to up-back Earvin Moore who took it 63 yards for the game-winning touchdown.
Leventry punted four more times for an average of 39.6 ypk, with three downed inside the 20.
Duquesne's freshman placekicker Eric Duale averaged 58 yards on a pair of kickoffs and made the Dukes' only extra point attempt from the 15 instead of the 10 because of a procedure penalty -- an eligible lineman failed to report to the refs.
At the end of the third quarter, Duquesne had the ball in the red zone and would have scored if the open receiver (not sure of name) had held on to the ball. Instead, Duale was sent in for a 34-yard field goal that was blocked.
There were a total of 18 penalties for 233 yards; Duquesne 8 for 133.
Nicholls State was without a couple starters, quarterback LaQuinton Caston and fullback Corey Robinson. Jacob Witt at QB and Hopson at FB combined for 90 net rushing yards. Witt was 5-of-8 for 48 yards in last week's 72-0 loss at Air Force. Saturday's numbers: 1-of-6 for 10 yards, with two interceptions and a sack.
Yashue Wills had a game-high 10 tackles, five solo. Zac Reddix stopped nine Dukes, also with five solo.
Nichols State, from the full scholarship Southland Conference, was expected to win. Their Sagarin rating was 53.36 to Duquesne's 38.75. The game was their home opener after losing 2009's first contest by 72 points. The game festivities included the introduction of Nicholls' Hall of Fame Class of 2009. There were 5,383 fans in Guidry Stadium, more than half of the 10K+ capacity. And it was a muggy (87F) day with rain finally coming down when the Dukes were trying to rebound from the Colonels' second score.
Next week, Duquesne heads to Monmouth (0-2), just west of the Jersey shore, for an NEC television game starting at 12:00 noon on Saturday, September 19, 2009.
- Nicholls State is in the Southland Conference. Three of the teams are nationally ranked: Central Arkansas at no. 13, McNeese State (16) and Texas State (19).
- Nicholls State will be coming to Pittsburgh for the Dukes' men's basketball yeam's season and home opener on November 13, 2009. Coach Ron Everhart's first head coaching job was at Southland's McNeese State.
- GameTracker, an excellent live stats program by CBS College Sports, stopped early in the third quarter, but did resume by the time Williams scored. Few minutes later, it crashed again and for good (bad).
- Thibodaux, La. is 65 miles west of New Orleans. Oh, for a Cafe du Monde beignet and some chicory coffee.