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Nicholls survives wild finish, clinches share of Southland

HAMMOND, La. -- Chase Fourcade threw a 57-yard touchdown pass to Dai'Jean Dixon with 1:30 left and Nicholls survived a wild finish Thursday night to beat Southeastern Louisiana 28-27, clinching a share of the Southland Conference title and a bid to the FCS playoffs.

Nicholls (8-4, 7-2) got a break when Bryce Broussard missed a PAT attempt after SE Louisiana (7-4, 6-3) took a 27-21 lead with 2:21 left in the game.

The Lions' Dominic Lamm intercepted Fourcade's pass with a leaping one-handed grab that set up Southeastern Louisiana at the Nicholls 29 with 3:07 left. Three plays later, Chason Virgil completed a 17-yard TD pass to Austin Mitchell that gave the Lions the lead.

After Nicholls answered with a three-play, 75-yard drive that took only 45 seconds, Alec Bland tried a squib quick that bounced off a Lions player and was recovered in a scrum by the Lions at the SLU 44.

With the benefit of roughing the passer and pass interference penalties, the Lions drove 55 yards to the Nicholls 2. On a second-and-goal Cole Kelley fumbled and Nicholls' Sully Laiche recovered with 21 seconds left. Nicholls ran the clock out on four plays to secure the win.

Fourcade finished with 288 yards passing, three touchdowns and an interception. Dixon caught nine passes for 190 yards and three touchdowns, and Julien Gums ran 18 times for 133 yards and a score.

Virgil passed for 321 yards, a touchdown and an interception for the Lions.

Nicholls holds the head-to-head tiebreaker over Central Arkansas (8-3, 6-2) for the FCS playoffs automatic bid. The Bears can still clinch a share of the Southland title with a win over Incarnate Word on Friday.

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