HAMMOND, La. (AP)Collin Guggenheim rushed for 266 yards, scored three touchdowns and barreled for critical first downs in the final three minutes as Nicholls upset Southeastern Louisiana 45-42 on Thursday night.
The victory in the intense rivalry game dashed Southeastern Louisiana’s Southland Conference title hopes, dampened their playoff chances, gave Nicholls the River Bell Classic trophy and knotted the series at 16 wins apiece.
Guggenheim, a freshman, carried 29 times and averaged 9.2 yards per carry. Konen Granier threw for 182 yards and a touchdown.
Reigning Walter Peyton Award winner Cole Kelley threw for 385 yards with three touchdowns for the Lions (8-3, 6-2) and scored untouched from the 1-yard line as Southeastern Louisiana rallied from a 17-point deficit to pull within 45-42.
After Kelley’s rushing TD with 3:17 remaining, the Lions stacked the line of scrimmage with nine defenders but Guggenheim still plowed through for first-down runs of 9 and 11 yards as Nicholls drained all but 32 seconds off the clock.
Kelley hit Austin Mitchell with a 34-yard pass down the sideline to the 31 with 25 seconds left, but the Colonels defense stiffened and a 44-yard field goal attempt sailed wide, allowing Nicholls (6-5, 5-3) to kneel for the final five seconds to secure a fifth-straight winning season.
The teams traded touchdown for touchdown early but the game hinged on a lone turnover – a SELA fumble on a kickoff return – that allowed Nicholls to score 17 points in the third quarter.
The Lions now must wait to see if they earn an at-large bid into the FCS playoffs.
Kelley has passed for a nation-leading 4,382 yards
More AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25.
Sign up for the AP’s college football newsletter: https://apnews.com/cfbtop25